Words "S.AI.L"ing to peace in Port Flanders Language Valley

Ypres 11 November 1999Armistice Day in the Flemish city of Ypres, which commemorates the end of World War One and its millions of soldiers killed at the dawn of a haunting century. "Words will become peace", a highly symbolic inscription, is written on the walls of the new S.AI.L. Port Flanders Language Valley centre, which is opening its doors on this very day of all days. The 25 ha high-tech business park is presenting itself as the first Western European centre of excellence in Speech, Artificial Intelligence and Language (S.AI.L.) technology for a wide variety of applications in different domains.

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S.AI.L. Port Flanders Language Valley was established in 1997 by Jo Lernout and Pol Hauspie, the two founders of Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products. S.AI.L. Port Flanders Language Valley aims to serve as the unique breeding ground for the development and commercialisation of products and services based on the technical concepts of Speech, Artificial Intelligence and Language. S.AI.L. Trust, known as the former FLV Foundation, constitutes a not for profit organisation set up with the special aim to achieve the vision of further growth in advanced applications of S.AI.L. technology.

As a result, S.AI.L. Trust vzw will be investing in 10 S.AI.L Ports all over the world. To date, it has taken the first steps towards the internationalisation of its concept with the foundation of S.AI.L. Port Asia Pacific in Singapore and S.AI.L. Port Northern Europe in Norway. The newly inaugurated S.AI.L. Port Flanders Language Valley already counts 15 high tech companies with many more to come. S.AI.L.-enabled interfaces assist in solving important business items, such as cost control, productivity enhancement, improved customer service and competitive advantage, according to Paul Behets, CEO of S.AI.L. Trust.

Through its future leading worldwide network of centres of excellence, S.AI.L. Trust hopes to enhance business creation, technological breakthroughs and employment. The success of the S.AI.L. Ports will be based on 4 pillars: brain supply (education), ideas and technology, money supply, incubation services and telecommunications facilities. The goal of every S.AI.L. Port is to provide an entrepreneurial environment for application development, innovation and technology transfer, and commercialisation. The ultimate goal is to maximise the success rate of new and rapidly expanding S.AI.L. companies.

Based of the success of the S.AI.L. Port Flanders Language Valley, S.AI.L. Trust will replicate and localise the Flemish initiative. S.AI.L. Port Flanders Language Valley functions as a model for the new S.AI.L. Ports in Singapore and Norway. At present, there is an agreement with the local partners and governments for the foundation of the S.AI.L. Port Asia Pacific in Singapore and the S.AI.L. Port Northern Europe in Voss, Norway, signed November 10. In Norway, S.AI.L. Trust co-operates with SIVA, the Industrial Development Corporation of Norway, which has negotiated on behalf of the Norwegian government.

SIVA will contribute to the S.AI.L. Port Northern Europe via its access to the local business community in Norway and in the Northern Europe Region, and its expertise in business incubation and development. Thanks to the close relations of SIVA with the Norwegian and Nordic Authorities, the S.AI.L. Port can rely on strong openings towards Authorities in the neighbouring countries, such as the Baltic Region. The S.AI.L. Port Middle East is now under negotiation. Contacts are established in Hungary and the U.S. East Coast. Furthermore, there are plans on the U.S. West Coast and in Japan, South America and Africa.

You can find more news with regard to the pioneering entrepreneurial spirit of Jo Lernout and Pol Hauspie, always seeking to close alliances between related high-tech businesses, in the VMW article New L&H Investment Company plays Tech Farming chess with VoiceCommander 99 transaction, which appeared in the February 1999 issue.


Leslie Versweyveld

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