HUGO Van Heuverswyn
Dr. Hugo Van Heuverswyn is one of the pioneers in turning modern biotechnology into industrial applications in Belgium. He obtained a chemistry degree at the University of Ghent in 1971 and a PhD degree (1978) under the guidance of Prof. Walter Fiers whose group was the first ever to unravel the primary structure of a complete viral DNA genome. In 1979 he established, together with Dr. Carlos Morel, the first DNA sequencing laboratory in Brazil, at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro. Soon after his return to Belgium in 1981 he was invited to set up Biogent, a subsidiary of Biogen NV (one of the first tier biotech companies), to pursue the molecular cloning of TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor) and other cytokines, a new class of biomolecules which at that time had just started to be discovered but was soon to revolutionize the field of immunology.
In 1984, when venture capital was still non-existing in Belgium, Hugo initiated the creation INNOGENETICS NV, the first independent healthcare-related biotech company in Belgium and the first biotech company to be listed on the newly created EASDAQ pan-European stock market in 1996. He served as CEO of Innogenetics till 2000 at which time Innognetics had grown to over 700 employees, had filed for a large number of patents and put more than 50 highly innovative diagnostic products on the market. In 2001 he founded BioMARIC, a globally active, privately-owned Belgian biotechnology company, predominantly focusing on detection and prevention of blood-, food- and vector-borne infectious diseases, which has become one of the major providers of innovative biomaterials to the IVD industry in the MLI countries.
Hugo was Chairman of the Flemish Institute of Biotechnology (VIB) from its inception in 1995 till 2013 and in 2003 he co-founded (together with Rudy Dekeyser) Flanders Bio, the association of Flemish biotech companies, where he has been serving as a board member from the start until today. In 2012 he co-founded Flanders Vaccine, a non - for - profit organization comprising a diversity of stakeholders active in the field of infection and immunity, which is aiming to foster national and international collaborations in the field of vaccination and immunotherapy in order to stimulate the translation of basic research into clinical applications. In 2017 he initiated the creation of an international research consortium aiming to validate the pig as a model for translational medicine in the field of infection and immunity.