Press release: Grisja Lobbestael takes over the torch from Dirk Torfs as CEO of Flanders Make

From 1 March, Grisja Lobbestael will strengthen research centre Flanders Make as CEO. He succeeds Dirk Torfs, who has successfully built the organisation since its inception in 2014 and is now stepping down due to health reasons. Grisja Lobbestael has extensive experience in the industry, having held several positions of responsibility at Sioen, a Belgian multinational specialising in technical textiles, since 2005.

Flanders Make was founded in 2014 as a strategic research centre for the manufacturing industry and, under the leadership of Dirk Torfs, grew into a unique community of more than 800 researchers working together from various sites across Flanders on research and innovation with and for the manufacturing industry and other industries with manufacturing challenges.

Dirk Torfs passes on the torch

"Through a unique collaboration model with companies, academic partners and government, we have built a strong innovation ecosystem for the transition to Industry 4.0, with the support of the Chairman and members of the Board of Directors and with all Flanders Make employees. I look hopefully to the further growth trajectory under the leadership of the new CEO. Only with continued focus on research and innovation can our industry achieve prosperity and a sustainable future for future generations," said outgoing CEO Dirk Torfs.

"I would like to thank Dirk Torfs for the rapid and impressive development of Flanders Make and for his important contribution to making our companies "Industrie 4.0 proof". I greatly appreciate that in the circumstances he chooses to pass the torch as CEO and yet will continue to engage part-time in strategic projects and stakeholder management as special assignment holder to the new CEO. Grisja Lobbestael combines years of industrial experience in an international context with a great passion for innovation, with which he can further strengthen the Flanders Make innovation ecosystem. I am looking forward to the continuation of the excellent cooperation between the Board of Directors and the Flanders Make management under his leadership," explains Urbain Vandeurzen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Flanders Make.

Passion for innovation

Grisja Lobbestael graduated as an Industrial Engineer and Master of Science Engineering in 1995. He later went on to complete the Advanced Management Programme and Master Class in Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Vlerick Management School.

He held positions of responsibility at engineering, sales and CEO level, both in the metal processing, electronics and plastics industries, at Packo, Barco and Sioen respectively, all Flemish companies with an international presence and relevance. In the process, he developed a thorough understanding of the technical, commercial and management challenges of our manufacturing industry.

"My passion lies in the visionary, strategic and cross-sectoral development of an organisation in order to sustainably improve society. From this passion and building on the excellent trajectory and experience of my predecessor Dirk Torfs, I continue to work on the success of Flanders Make with great enthusiasm," says Grisja Lobbestael.

Linda Corstjens, PR & Communication Manager

Linda Corstjens has more than 20 years of experience in communication & PR in research, B2B and B2C environments. In 2010 she started at Flanders' Drive as PR & Communication Manager and then continued as PR & Communication Manager of Flanders Make in 2014 at the birth of Flanders Make.

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