In 1995 Flemish companies, research and educational institutes with an activity in the space industry founded VRI (Vlaamse RuimtevaartIndustrie/Flemish Space Industry) as their representative grouping.
The goals of the organization are threefold: to enhance the collaboration between its members, to represent them with national and international public authorities and to make the industry known to the public at large.
Today VRI has 35 members who are developing a common strategy within the organization. The members have chosen niche strategy within the industry. Some members have instruments for space research and small satellites as their core business. Other have developed control systems for on board applications whereas an other group develops new technologies for telecommunication and navigation. A growing group of members is offering services based on space data.
At European level VRI supports the collaboration between its members and space institutions and foreign companies. VRI is also a member of SME4SPACE, the officially recognized organization of SMEs in the European space sector.
Bringing the Flemish space sector closer to the public and inform the public about the importance of space in society and its importance as an industrial sector is an other aim of VRI. VRI organizes Flemish Space Days at regular intervals allowing the VRI members to inform the public about their state-of-the-art activities.
Koen Puimege, CEO of Antwerp Space, is the president of VRI. Kris Vanderhauwaert is the managing director.
Some keynote figures of the sector in Flanders: since 2002 the space sector in Flanders has seen a considerable growth, both in turn over and in work force. The sector employs directly approximately 1,200 people with an overall turnover of 350 million € (2018). 1/3 of this turnover stems from ESA, the European Space Agency whereas the remaining 2/3 is coming from other sources, mainly the worldwide commercial space market. Although the importance of ESA has decreased relatively over the past years (at the start of VRI almost 100 % of the turnover came directly from ESA) ESA remains an extremely important partner for our industry. A regular consultation with the Belgian federal authority that represents Belgium at ESA remains therefor crucial for the members of VRI.