5x Innovation in Leuven

We no longer have to tell you that Leuven is an innovative city. But where can you experience that? Local Nick sorted it out for us.

Visiting Leuven, it is easy to focus on the historical. The past is visibly immortalized in stone and bronze on the streets, and enshrined in the many art galleries and museums. Yet the city is certainly more than preservation. It is a hub of innovation and ambition with its sights set on the future. We’ll help you to take note of what innovation looks like, on the streets, in an arcade, on the dancefloor, architecture, and more!

Inventions and the many offspring of KU Leuven

KU Leuven | Research

For four years now, Reuters has ranked KU Leuven ‘the most innovative university.’ KU Leuven’s continued preeminence on the list is attributed to the high number of patents filed by researchers and the originality of research, frequently cited by other scholars. Their patent portfolio includes more than 584 families of patents!

Though many local and international businesses are concrete testaments to these discoveries and enterprises, 12 inventions are commemorated on displays throughout the city. In cooperation with Leuven Mindgate, Visit Leuven erected interactive panels which detail various inventions with their origins here. So if you want to learn about new varieties of apples, 3D printed artificial eyes, and anti-HIV medicine, then take a stroll around the city and look out for stories of successful innovation on the street on the city’s red panels in public spaces! Find them all here!

Leuven MindGate and their visionary seminars

Leuven Mindgate

Founded in 2016, Leuven Mindgate unites 29 institutions, and seeks to help “leading knowledge institutions, companies, and the city of Leuven join forces.” Among a variety of projects, Leuven Mindgate hosts ‘Visionary Seminars’ aimed at educating and connecting academics and entrepreneurs.

In mid-June one such seminar will cover the topic of competitiveness in an increasingly fast paced and digital market, called “Be a Cheetah in a World of Gazelles.” Another event titled “Transformation of the City” is being held to host speakers to share on topics relating to the possibilities technology opens up in how cities function, and what changes we can expect. Gathering experts from diverse fields and nations, the event includes discussions and contributions from the mayors of Leuven, Mechelen, Brussels and even Sipoo Finland! To learn more about Leuven MindGate activities look online here.

Arcave: games of the future


After home entertainment systems and personal computers, the world thought that video game arcades had seen their last. However something both new and old has arrived in Leuven, Arcave, a virtual reality arcade!

Close to center, Arcave has a large windowed storefront through which onlookers can often be found peering at players adorned with headsets swinging at virtual foes. Rather than pinball machines or a coin-fed Pac-Man console, Arcave has spaces where customers don goggles that immerse them in 3D worlds replete with aliens, zombies, and other fantastic enemies. With a lounge and four play zones, individuals and larger parties are able to rent out Arcave for themselves or for events with friends.
Virtual reality has only emerged in the last few years, and is the locus of experimentation with art, entertainment, and game design. Arcave is at the forefront of this newborn industry, with a future yet open and undecided. Consider a 5 minute introduction or a session yourself by reserving a time slot here!

STUK: venue for the avant-garde

Artefact Festival

Looking for cutting edge artistic work? STUK, centrally located on Naamsestraat is a self described “arts center for the future.” For decades Stuk has been a venue for dance, visual arts, film, and music often experimenting with the results of where these arts intersect. 

Over the years Stuk has hosted countless exhibitions with works from experimental artists. Coming up, Stuk is coordinating trips to the Brussels Planetarium from Leuven to an audio-visual performance by a Limburg based synth group and animator Jaak De Digitale. Animations synchronized with music will portray a cosmonaut in a project titled EON, find out more here.

M-Museum Leuven: the old housed within the new

M-Museum Leuven

M-Museum Leuven is a popular destination for locals and visitors due to its diverse exhibitions, activities, location, and design. It offers multiple spaces for displays of its permanent and temporary collections, workshops for activities, a cafe, and rooftop with a view.

Designed by Belgian architect Stephane Beel, the museum is aesthetically striking. Identifiable by its bright white modern walls and minimalist geometric aesthetic, the building exudes the purity of modern design. M strides from its past to the future, retaining some physical remnants of the structures it replaced, such as a facade and some floors. Natural light is welcomed through large windows, giving the building an open feeling. For those who want a taste of building, take a tour and keep an eye on the architecture, then stop on the rooftop terrace to look down on the central courtyard, beyond, a fine view of Saint Peters' Church, the town hall, the university library, and the historic city within which this contemporary structure lies. For more information about M-Museum, its past, and future exhibitions, look here.