Ghent University & FTI bring a technological spectacle to the Winter Circus

(28-02-2024) In a six-day technology festival, from 16 to 21 March Flanders Technology & Innovation (FTI) celebrates our city and region as a hotbed for technological creativity and innovative ideas, with of course various UGent'ers on the programme.

The Summit

On Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 March, the Winter Circus will be the stage for the Summit, a two-day conference that immerses innovators, entrepreneurs and other tech enthusiasts in the worlds of health, preventive lifestyle, sports technology, biotech and food tech.

You can meet the following UGent'ers there:

  • Kristof De Mey speaks about the future of wearables.
  • Sanne Stegen talks about healthy aging, Marthe De Boevre, together with Lies Lahousse, explains their ambitious 20-year project 'the Health Monitor', and also talks about food safety.
  • Ruth Van der Looven explains how UZ Gent uses virtual and augmented reality for child rehabilitation.
  • Marleen Temmerman makes a plea for women's health care as a priority.
  • Catherine Van Der Straeten, Liesbeth Van Hauwermeiren and Pascal Verdonck will debate innovation in preventive medicine.
  • The Conbots, exoskeletons co-developed at Ghent University, are demonstrated during a talk by Fransesco Nori (head of Robotics Google Deepmind).
  • Roos Vandenbroucke and Patrick Santens talk about our microbiome and the gut-brain axis.
  • Wim Soetaert talks about The ProteInn Club, a platform for fermentation-based proteins.
  • Frederik Coppens, together with UA colleague Steven Latré, talks to you about data, AI & ethics in biotechnology
  • Wim Van Criekinge will give a keynote about turning academic expertise into innovative business concepts
  • Rudi Beyaert and Filomeen Haerynck speak (together with KU Leuven colleagues Frederic Rousseau & Michel Delforge) about rare diseases.
  • Leander Meuris will perform in a deep dive on innovative technologies for biomarker research, Xavier Staelens in one on new treatments and therapies, and Sofie Goormachtig in one on sustainable feed and nutrition,
  • Philip Blondeel shares his vision on therapeutic innovation.
  • Margriet Drouillon, Jana Asselman, Annelies Declercq and Olivier De Clerck highlight the different ways in which the sea influences our prosperity and well-being.
  • Last but not least, there will be keynotes from Ghent University alumni Peter Hinssen (On Radical Innovation, Leadership and the Impact of All Things Digital on Society & Business) and Evi Van Acker (Olympic Medallist Dishes Out Food for Thought).
Staff members and students of Ghent University can participate in the Summit at a reduced rate by choosing an academic ticket and using their Ghent University email address for registration. More information on the FTI Ghent website.

The Talks

For three evenings, the Winter Circus will host a series of inspiring lectures for the curious. Innovators, scientists, entrepreneurs and/or opinion leaders talk about how you can become a better version of yourself.

On Wednesday, March 20, the emphasis is on sports and breathing. Then, in addition to the renowned American science journalist James Nestor, the Flemish superman Karel Sabbe and entrepreneur Hélène Guillaume, you can also listen to UGent alumnus and OnTracx CEO Senne Bonnaerens about technology to prevent running injuries.

The other evenings focus on sleep, food and biotech.

The Restaurant

You can literally taste the future in the Winter Circus from March 16 to 21. In the Restaurant, Olly Ceulenaere (Audience) and biologist Maxime Willems (Proef) make an educated guess as to what the recipes in Our Cookbook could look like in 2050. You will taste croquettes with dulse seaweed, cultivated by Ghent University in a collaboration between the teams of Olivier De Clerck (Faculty of Sciences), Margriet Drouillon (BLUEGent), Frank Devlieghere and Annelies Declercq (all Faculty of Bioscience Engineering).

FTI Ghent @ Inspire Health & Care

FTI Ghent also injects a portion of technology at Inspire health&care, the meeting platform for care and welfare in Flanders Expo. On March 19, Ghent University students Sigrid Sterckx and Kirsten Colpaert will participate in a panel discussion on data, AI and ethics in healthcare. Free access after registration.

The Expo

During the Expo you will discover the entire winter circus and be immersed in a unique mix of history, technology, art and wonder. In a collaboration with mixed media artist Vincent Braeckman, Margriet Drouillon's team lets you experience the sea with all your senses and takes you to various aspects of Ghent University research in the field of marine sciences.


  • FTI Ghent takes place from 16 to 21 March at the Winter Circus in Ghent.
  • The full program and tickets can be found on the website.