Ghent is a true student city. The city has 250,000 inhabitants and is home to as many as ten institutions of higher education, including two world-renowned universities. If one adds the major research centres and the variety of knowledge clusters, it comes as no surprise that Ghent is the Belgian Capital of Knowledge. Furthermore, the different key sectors constitute a considerable added value for any conference. This is reflected in the rankings of ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association): after Brussels, Ghent has been the most important conference city of Belgium for years!

1. Ghent is at the top with two renowned universities

Ghent University or UGent for short, offers 200 different training programmes and is the city’s largest educational institution. The university also has a solid reputation abroad: According to the Shanghai ranking, UGent is among the top 100 international universities, and the faculty of veterinary medicine has been considered the best in the world for years. 

But Ghent is home to two fully-fledged faculties of another university: the Catholic University of Leuven or KU Leuven. Being the largest and oldest university of Flanders, KU Leuven is also listed in the top 100 of the Shanghai ranking. 

2. A large variety of internationally renowned educational institutions

AUGent (Associatie Universiteit Gent) not only takes the university of the same name under its wings, but also the university colleges Artevelde Hogeschool, Howest and HoGent. The Technology campus just outside the ring road houses the faculty of engineering of KU Leuven and the training programmes of Odisee university college. Vlerick Business School, the oldest business and management school of Europe, also has connections with both universities and is established in the heart of Ghent.

Ghent is also a major artistic hub. KASK & Conservatorium (the Royal Academy for Fine Arts and part of HoGent) and LUCA School of Arts (which shares its campuses with the faculty of architecture of KU Leuven) often cooperate with the smaller HISK (Higher Institute of Fine Arts). IOA (International Opera Academy) with its prestigious and international training programmes, and Orpheus Institute, the leading European centre for artistic musical research, complete the list of institutes of artistic higher education present in Ghent. 

However large and diverse these institutes may be, they all have one thing in common: connections far beyond our national borders. Each of these institutes have gained international fame and recognition, be it on account of their research, their achievements or their alumni. 

3. Home base for the main Flemish research centres

Its central location, easy accessibility and multi-faceted knowledge concentration make Ghent the perfect base for various Flemish research centres.

The VIB (Flanders Institute for Biotechnology) is connected to the five Flemish universities, but has its headquarters in the Technology Park of Zwijnaarde, Ghent. The VIB employs scientists from 70 different countries and therefore has gained international renown. In Ghent, the institute cooperates with the University Hospital and the CRIG (Cancer Research Institute Ghent), that is connected to the hospital. Moreover, the VIB features a department that organises scientific conferences. It is therefore the ideal partner for your conference, as you can benefit from their expert knowledge, both as to content and as to organisation. 

The same technology park also houses VITO (Flemish Institute for Technological Research) and SIM Flanders (Strategic Initiative Materials). 

And there is also ILVO, the Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, which consists of four units and six living labs. ILVO is involved in multidisciplinary and independent research into sustainable agriculture solutions for the future. The connection with UGent is obvious.

The Ghent division of the Agentschap Onroerend Erfgoed (Flemish agency for immovable heritage) can be found next to Sint-Pieters railway station. And finally, the “Digital technology and transformation” cluster is housed on the top floor of the municipal library De Krook. This cluster consists of imec Gent and BHIC (BlueHealth Innovation Center). 

4. Where knowledge is passed on and applied

The Ghent knowledge centre may be interconnected and internationally renowned for their research, what’s even more important is what happens with all that knowledge.

TTOs (Technology Transfer Offices) are responsible for the transfer of knowledge and technology from universities and associated university colleges to private and public partners. AUGent, for instance, has its own TechTransfer, which constitutes the link between the academic and the industrial world and has given rise to the creation of numerous spin-offs over the years.

In addition, the city’s progressive business climate and policy makes Ghent the ideal breeding ground for start-ups and scale-ups. Entrepreneurs from all sectors are given numerous opportunities here.

5. Ghent, the key to success

Ghent doesn’t want to be fairly good at everything, it wants to excel in key sectors worldwide. Thanks to the city’s policy, among other things, the focus is mainly on the key industries that were already mentioned: (bio)technology, education, medical and pharmaceutical developments, agriculture and the food industry, IT and smart city, art and culture. In addition, green and circular economy are high on the agenda, even in the international North Sea Port. 

Is your conference linked to one of these key industries? Then the place to be is Ghent!


6. Where you never have to look far

Ghent has several easily accessible knowledge clusters on its territory. You can find them all below. 

Just to the north of this map is the Ghent cluster for industry, transport and circular economy in North Sea Port. And a little to the west, in Ostend, is the cluster for blue economy, in which Ugent and ILVO are represented.

Your conference simply belongs in Ghent!


We hope we don’t have to convince you that Ghent is a true knowledge centre. With two universities, dozens of institutes for higher education, various research centres, areas of cross-fertilisation and several knowledge clusters, Ghent is perfectly placed to bear the title of “Belgian Capital of Knowledge”. There’s a reason why Ghent is Belgium’s second-largest conference city (after Brussels)! 


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