Sonja joined the Research and Development department of the VUB in 1994 to create awareness within the university to collaborate more with industry and to develop a technology transfer office.
Sonja Haesen finished her PhD in Biology- Genetics in March 1994 at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). She joined the Research and Development department of the VUB the same year to create awareness within the university to collaborate more with industry and to develop a technology transfer office. She became member of ASTP, LES and TII and followed different training programs on knowledge and technology transfer. She is member of TTO Flanders and KTO BRU, the regional networks of Technology Transfer.
The Vrije Universiteit Brussel originated from the ULB (Université Libre de Bruxelles) in 1969 and has 8 faculties and an Academic Hospital on 3 campuses in the Brussels and Flanders Region. With 16.000 students (54% women) -among them more than 3000 international students with 128 nationalities-, 2250 researchers and a yearly research budget of ca. €110 Million, the VUB ranks on place 47th in the Reuters top 100 of Europe's Most Innovative Universities (2018).
Today the VUB TechTransfer office, with Sonja Haesen as director, is an independent department within the Vice-rectorate for Innovation & Industry Relations. It consists of 30 people: 12 technology transfer professionals, the Foundation team (philanthropic fundraising), the Crosstalks team (networking) and support staff.
VUB TechTransfer handles around 40 invention disclosures per year, the patent portfolio consists of 142 active patent families and 15 spin-off companies were created in the last 5 years. Activities of the office include the management of the Industrial Research Fund, support to researchers in acquiring EU funding and regional project funding for strategic and applied research, legal- IP- and licensing -negotiating in collaborations with industry, entrepreneurship education, creation of and board membership in spin-off companies and development of incubators and research parks. The VUB Foundation handles the financing of free-thinking research from companies and individuals and the Crosstalks network develops long term visions through dynamic knowledge exchanges with different stakeholders.
The VUB TechTransfer office closed her first Start-up fund BI3 (Brussels Imagination, Incubation and Innovation) in 2019, with a multiple of 3.2. Today, the VUB is one of the first line strategic partners in the Qbic I and II Fund: with in aggregate close to €100 Million under management, Qbic is one of the largest inter-university spin-off funds in Europe.