Press release – Brussels, 22 April 2021  

Two international companies with investment projects in Flanders took home a trophy during the Foreign Investment Trophy. With this ceremony, Flanders Investment & Trade, the government agency for international business in Flanders, underlines for the ninth-consecutive year the importance of foreign investments for Flanders’ resilience, (knowledge) economy, employment and prosperity.  

This year’s ceremony involved a very restricted circle of participants. Flanders’ Minister-President Jan Jambon, among others, was present on 22 April 2021 in Lier. Those who registered on could follow the ceremony online.  

Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) presented two trophies:  

  1. the 2021 Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy;  
  2. the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Trophy.  

Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy: Kuehne+Nagel (Switzerland) 

Kuehne+Nagel wins the 2021 Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy. Flanders’ Minister-President Jan Jambon announced the company’s victory in the presence of Tobias Jerschke, Managing Director Kuehne+Nagel Belux.  

In 2020, Kuehne+Nagel opened a logistics center for pharmaceutical and medical products at Brucargo, the freight area of Brussels Airport, in Machelen (Flanders). Moreover, in the same year, the Swiss logistics player started the construction of a EUR 75-million European distribution center in Tessenderlo, creating 150 additional jobs in 2021 and another 350 in the following years. “With these projects, Kuehne+Nagel not only confirms Flanders’ traditional strengths, but also the innovative clout of the logistics sector in our region,” comments the Minister-President.  

“What’s more, the projects of Kuehne+Nagel represent future-proof investments in changing times,” adds Claire Tillekaerts, CEO of FIT. “For example, the company’s logistics center in Machelen is equipped with different temperature zones to handle new, increasingly temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical and medical products.” 

Kuehne+Nagel emerged victorious after two rounds of voting by a professional jury and the public online. The Swiss firm won over two other nominated investment projects: that of French engineering company ECA GROUP and that of Belgian-Dutch logistics services provider Bleckmann and British fitness apparel & accessories brand Gymshark.  

Discover more about the winning projects of Kuehne+Nagel 


Lifetime Achievement Trophy: Atlas Copco (Sweden)  

Swedish industrial group Atlas Copco receives the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Trophy. This was announced by Flanders’ Minister-President Jan Jambon in the presence of Alex Bongaerts, VP Holding Benelux, France & UK/Ireland at Atlas Copco Airpower.  

Atlas Copco first settled in Belgium in 1955 with the opening of a sales and service company in Brussels that soon after moved to Overijse, Flanders. The first major acquisition in the region followed a year later when the Swedish group acquired Arpic Antwerp. Over the decades, Atlas Copco became more and more locally embedded. In the 1960s, for example, it moved its compressor production activities from Sweden to Flanders.  

What’s more, in the 1990s, Atlas Copco also set up rental activities in Flanders – which over the years grew into a division within the Compressor Technique business area, headquartered in Boom since 2017. Also in the 1990s, Atlas Copco opened a global distribution center in Hoeselt. This site was expanded in 2018 and, since 2021, also distributes the group’s vacuum portfolio, in addition to the products of the Industrial Technique and Power Technique business areas. The logistics for Atlas Copco Airpower’s compressors, on the other hand, are managed from Wilrijk.  

Nowadays, Atlas Copco employs around 3,400 people in Flanders and almost 60% of the total group revenue is generated by two business areas headquartered in Flanders. Moreover, thanks to various local strengths – including a strategic location and government support for innovation and R&D – Atlas Copco can carry out intensive R&D in Flanders and apply for patents for an average of 30 new inventions per year.  

“The Lifetime Achievement Trophy is a token of appreciation for the strong ties between Atlas Copco and Flanders as well as for their long, successful track record in our region,” comments Flanders’ Minister-President Jan Jambon. “This international player has been investing in Flanders for over six decades. Moreover, during a visit to Atlas Copco in July last year, I was able to see with my own eyes that they are a role model for digitalization, sustainability and competence development. With our ‘Nordics strategy’, we seek to attract exactly this type of company from Scandinavia to Flanders.”  

“The fact that Atlas Copco is a loyal investor is also demonstrated by recent projects,” adds Claire Tillekaerts, CEO of FIT. “Even in times of COVID-19, the company’s investment rhythm in Flanders remained up to par. Atlas Copco, for example, decided to invest EUR 15 million in each of the next 3 years at their smart factory in Wilrijk, along with EUR 10 million to reskill and upskill their employees. Investing in people and corporate social responsibility is clearly key – and, as such, the Swedish group has set an example for international entrepreneurship in Flanders’ manufacturing industry.”  

Learn more about Atlas Copco’s track record in Flanders


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