While other major European capitals play to Brexit fears in a bid to steal the UK's leading fintech hub status, Belgium is taking a different approach by seeking to build a mutually supportive bridge between startups across both jurisdictions.
A delegation led by Belgian finance minister Johan van Overtveldt has crossed the channel to initiate talks with UK fintech agency Innovate Finance on the establishment of a collaboration between the two communities and to announce the launch of a new Brussels-based hub to support financial technology startups.
B-Hive is the successor of Eggsplore, founded by Jurgen Ingels and with Wim De Waele as CEO, a fintech platform in which a number of major banks, insurers and market infrastructure players started working together on common innovation challenges with the local startup ecosystem. Unlike Eggsplore, B-Hive has secured the explicit backing of the Belgian government via a federal investment fund and attracted new backers from the financial sector.
Van Overtveldt explains: “The new platform is the result of a recommendation made by a high-level expert group on the future of finance in Belgium, which I put in place in 2015, and led by Johan Thijs, CEO of KBC Bank and Insurance Group.”
He says that country wants to build close ties with London, to scout technology companies that want to establish additional offices on the continent and to promote the UK capital as an attractive destination for growth companies from Belgium.
“Brexit will not get in the way of fintech advancing in the UK and Europe," says Lawrence Wintermeyer, CEO of Innovate Finance. “Many continental fintechs continue to see London as an attractive destination and we are keen to support future collaborations for our members on the continent with B-Hive."