Public Street Furniture in Brussels

Sunday, 24 March – The city of Brussels is melting pot of cultures and people from all over the world. The city is an appealing mix of historic flair, modern architecture and street art. As a typical scenario of big cities of the world, in Brussels you experience the coming together of residents and tourists for a wide range of activities like leisure, sports, meet-ups, demonstrations or simply a game of chess. This makes it important that the city is equipped with the right infrastructure to enable its citizens to enjoy a quality standard of living.

Getting in touch with public furniture

On this sunny Spring day, we took a stroll around the city and parks and came across an interesting observation. The street furniture in the City of Brussels is not only inadequate but is also purely functional, soulless and kinda boring. We took the opportunity to speak to some local residents and found that we are not alone in our observation. They revealed that more street furniture is needed and incorporating colorful and attractive elements would be appreciated and a sight for sore eyes. It is interesting to note that modern art was mentioned several times. An example would be art installations where modern and colorful furniture is displayed and accessible to the public.

There are currently several large players (e.g. Urbanstyle, WolternsMabeg) supplying street furniture in the local market. However, most of their products are run-of-the-mill. The city council also encourages art elements by mandating that up to 2% of public and private construction cost for are used for this purpose (for the latter, only those with subsidies apply). Till date, the focus of such projects is often confined to sculptures and impressive mural paints. There is thus a potential to tap upon this construction budget to integrate art and culture into public furniture. Furthermore, the local government supports projects which are in cooperation with the local art institutions as the MAD.

However, a problem exists and that is the longevity of such installations in terms of keeping them off vandalism.

Citizens playing chess in a local parc
Example of Street Furniture with art elements

Source: Alamy.de

It lies in the material where specialized knowledge is required. This is where the Swiss expertise comes into picture. After providing an appealing overall design in a material that is sustainable and provide a stylish surface, the local adaption is the next step. As Brussels has a strong local art community, a local event such as the Brussels Art Week could be used as a platform. Local artists can paint the furniture which then are coated to make them resistant. Nevertheless, there are 19 Communes in the city which are ordering their furniture independently. To get access to them and receive large contracts might however be very challenging for a Swiss company. Therefore, we highly recommend that Swiss companies enter the market with a local collaboration with the communes. This way the city of Brussels gets not only durable street furniture but one that adds to its artistic appeal.

High-Quality Windows in Brussels

Brussels, the Belgian capital and the headquarters of the European Union and many of its institutions, is going through a modernization of its territories. Through the modernization and its commitment to adhering to the complete values and aspirations of the European Union in terms of supporting their environmental-friendly policies. Hence, when it comes to the construction of buildings, the quality of the windows is of vital importance in order to preserve energy. Through this individuals can contribute to preserving the environment and working towards a greener future.

For a company to successfully enter the Belgian’s capital city of Brussels some factors are important to consider.

In the last decade, Brussels has turned from the being at the end of the list of role models for preserving energy to a leading figure, through renovating many older building and constructing many new ones. As older buildings tend to have older windows which to not retain warmth and therefore lead to a loss of energy.

Modern City Center – Place Charles Rogier

The city consists of nineteen districts where each boasts their individual unique construct of architecture and originates from different eras. When wanting to enter the market possible adaptions to the individual needs should be considered. Additionally, being at the heart of Europe and a role model for the rest of the modern world, a complete adherence to the local regulations is strictly enforced. Therefore,  a complete understanding of the heritage perseverance laws and energy perseverance windows has to be followed. For instance a law in Brussels that requires when rebuilding or constructing to follow guidelines in terms of thermal isolations, which are known as the “Performance Enérgétique des bâtiments”.  

Old and renovated windows at Rue de la Bourse

As Brussels is home to many ancient UNESCO heritage sites and protected buildings, the reconstructions of these building are complex. Therefore, when considering rebuilding these ancient building, an utterly strict law must be adhered to at all times to ensure the conservation of the heritage of Brussels. This also applies to the window industry, where installing high quality windows bring a certain risk of not fulfilling the complete requirements of the heritage laws.

Our Recommendation

In order to set up a window business successfully, the company is recommended to set up an office in the heart of the city, where many modern building are already built and are further being constructed. Therefore, the European Quarter is suggested as a hub for the Belgian market. In the European Quarter it is vigilant that construction of buildings containing large windows is of strong fashion. The skyline, which is in an ever-growing state, boasts scenery of modern artifact for the window market.

The competition is fierce, with company’s such as “protect house group”, “Building Windows” and “Monument Brussels” already dominating the market. Many more companies are present in the market of high-quality windows. Thus, a unique business model must be presented to the market in order to successfully differentiate themselves from the already strong positioned competition.

We believe, that Brussels is a highly developing city that could always use a fresh player on the market when it comes to high quality windows. Therefore it is recommended, to concentrate on the business districts and developing areas, rather than the heritage sites, due to the reasons mentioned above.  On behalf of our group, we wish the new entrant the best of luck.  

Group 8 on Boulevard Roi Albert II
from left to right: Béatrice, Dominik, Karin, Jeremy, Estrella, Miriam

Pierogi’s – A Polish Food Truck in Brussels

Pierogi´s is a Polish food truck offering vegetarian varieties of the traditional Polish dumplings called pierogi. Brussels is a multicultural city and residence to various foreign communities. Polish inhabitants constitute the sixth largest foreign group in the city. In addition to this population, Pierogi´s can also take advantage of and target the Eurocrats as they are always willing to try different cultures´ gastronomy. Furthermore, food trucks are very common in the city as they offer convenience and most of the international people working in Brussels get their daily lunch in the form of take away food.

Pierogis, a traditional Polish dumpling

A food truck is the optimal way to enter the market as it requires low initial investment and operation costs and involves low risk. Due to mobility, the food truck can also attend events (e.g. conferences, exhibitions, and Brussels Food Truck Festival – the biggest food truck festival in the world) to reach more customers.

Food trucks in Brussels

Market Environment

Belgium is rather conservative when it comes to food. Traditional Belgian dishes revolve around meat or fish. Belgium has only recently begun to embrace the idea of vegetarianism, reflected by an increasing number of vegetarian options (i.e. restaurants, quick foods, and cafes). Because it is a relatively new concept in Belgium, it would be advisable for Pierogi’s not to sell the offer as “vegetarian,” but rather as the pierogi dish itself. The potential for Pierogi’s is high however since there is only one Polish restaurant in Brussels and moreover, one vegetarian food truck.

Because a big target group are the so-called Eurocrats working around the European district, the food truck should operate within that area (indicated in the graphic below). The truck will operate Monday to Friday at the locations Porte de Namur metro station, Trône metro station, Square Frère Orban, Boulevard de l’Impératrice and Square De Meeûs. Moreover, the city of Brussels provides a monthly updated schedulewith food tracks circulating around Brussels.

Locations to position the food truck

The main competitors will not be the other food trucks since there is always only one truck at each spot, but more the local restaurants around each spot. Nevertheless, the city of Brussels does not accept an endless number of food trucks, to limit competition with local businesses.

Logistics

Permits, License and Insurance – approx. costs 3100 – 6900 euros

In order to start a food truck business in Brussels, the entrepreneur has to obtain a license from the Foodstuffs Inspection Department which is the part of the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC). Other required license and permits include: a business license which tests the legal right to operate the food provider in the particular location; food-handler’s permit which ensures that employees’ safety in the cooking environment. Liability insurance is also required.

Operational costs – Monthly

Operational costs include costs such as parking, food inventory and labor. These costs can vary every month. The average operational costs are around $30’000 per month depending on the expenses. The labor costs constitute 25-35% of the operational costs.

Expansion Possibilities

Having experimented in different locations throughout Brussels in its first two years, Pierogi’s can open a permanent restaurant in what it experienced to be the most lucrative. Upon doing so, Pierogi’s will need to register the restaurant, as well as consider the size and potentially expanding its menu offering.

Potential concept for Pierogi’s restaurant
Employees of Pierogi’s

Msc IB Study Trip Brussels 2019

International Management Study Trip Israel: Day 7

On the last day of our study trip we went to the national park of Masada.
Located on the top of an isolated rock plateau, it provides majestic views of the dead sea and the surrounding Judean desert.

On our way from the hotel to this historic site we had the opportunity to visit the cosmetic producer Ahava. The visit included an overview of the company‘s core activities followed by a shopping spree through the on-site store. The company is known for its natural ingredients and vegan friendly approach to beauty. Ahava‘s products are based on 4 main ingredients: Water, Mud, Salt and Plants. After the shopping tour, students were equipped with new moisturizers, mud masks and skin treatments.

Getting to the rock plateau we had two options. One group decided to walk the narrow ‚snake path’ up to the hill while the other half took the cable car to look at the acient structures on the mountain. Masada was the last pastion of the Jewish Freedom Fighters and is regarded as a Jewish cultural icon as its last days were overshadowed by tragic events where the freedom fighters had to face the choice of death or slavery by the Romans.

The last stop of the day was at the dead sea where we could enjoy the unusual experience of floating in the ocean. En Boqeq is known for its free beaches and is a center medicine tourism. The healing properties of the dead sea have been used for hundreds of years and people from all over the world travel to this area to make use of them

All in all, it was a great trip with a lot of impressions and insights into Israel’s culture and business environment. Many thanks to the organization team from all the students!

International Management Study Trip Israel: Day 5

After a one and half hour bus drive we arrived in the southern part of Israel. The region of Negev is covering 60% of Israel’s territory but is home to only 10% of the Israeli population. Since David Ben-Gurion initiated the development of this particular region, many companies settled down in the Negev region. 5 years ago, Sodastream was among the companies that opened a manufacturing plant and since then produce their bottles as well as the fizz machines which are later on distributed to 46 countries everywhere in the world. Only glas components are sourced through third party delivery. We got a very interesting insight into the whole manufacturing process and were made familiar with the company’s vision of being highly environmentally responsible. At the end of the tour the whole group got a Sodastream bottle displaying their vision of Israel, Jews and Arabs working side by side in peace.

After another 45 minutes bus ride we arrived at the second stop of today’s program, Soreq Winery. The winery school teaches interested people the finest art of wine making, from harvesting the grapes to the final step of bottling the wine. After an authentic tour we were able to participate in a wine tasting. Everybody got to taste three different sorts of red wine and enjoy some snacks.

Since the study trip is slowly approaching the end, the ZHAW invited everybody for a beautiful and delicious supper. The restaurant Yulia was situated at the Tel-Aviv’s port, giving us a stunning view on the waves of the agitated ocean. We all had a wonderful time and enjoyed the company of each other. Hereby we would like to thank ZHAW, in the name of all 34 students, for this delicious meal.

International Management Study Trip Israel: Day 4

On the fourth day of our Study Trip in Israel, we visited one of the oldest and most historic cities in the world, Jerusalem. We departed early in the morning to visit Mobileye, the global leader in the development of vision technology for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicles headquartered in Jerusalem. The US giant Intel Corp. acquired Mobileye in 2017 for 15.3bn, marking the largest purchase of an Israeli tech company. Gaining valuable insights into the future of safe and autonomous driving prompted students to ask questions facing the firm on relevant topics such as cybersecurity, safety, ethics, and industry competitors.

The second part of the day consisted of a guided city tour through the old city of Jerusalem. Our Norwegian tour guide Ruth took as on the hilltop of Mount of Olives which delivers beautiful views over the city. The spot is associated with many events in Jesus’s life including the ascending to Heaven. The students then followed the 14 stations of the cross while exploring the narrow alleys of the old city ending where Jesus was supposedly laid in the tomb and covered in incense.

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Before taking the bus back to Tel Aviv, the study group had the opportunity to soak in the unique atmosphere surrounding the Western Wall which symbolises the holiest place where jews are permitted to pray.

The trip showed us that peaceful coexistence between different religions is possible. We are happy to have witnessed this truly amazing place together with our study peers.

International Management Study Trip Israel: Day 4

Day four of our study trip started off nicely with a bright sun and a temperature similar to what we usually only experience during the summer months in Switzerland. The very first item on today’s agenda did not require us to embark on a long journey, since we were given the opportunity to enjoy a highly interesting and insightful lecture by Ohad Meyuhas from the company Stratasys on 3D-printing in a conference room at our hotel. During his lecture, Ohad not only told us facts about the firm and the various processes that can be used to print objects, but also gave interesting anecdotes about how a frog inspired the creation of 3D-printing or even how Minnesota is not a pleasurable place to go to. In a subsequent Q&A session, we were then able to ask Ohad our various questions regarding 3D-printing and related subjects.

Ohad telling us about one of the processes used in 3D-printing

After the lecture on the highly promising technology, we boarded our bus in order to leave for the Museum of the Jewish People. As we have learned from our lecturer Dr. Leslie Broudo-Mitts during our visit at the Tel Aviv University, one of the major reasons why Israel is considered a start-up nation with great companies and entrepreneurial spirit is that people are able to adapt to changes quickly. Our flexibility was tested as well when our dear bus driver Hagi informed us about a power outage at the museum and therefore our planned museum tour was now cancelled. Inspired by the Israeli can-do attitude and high degree of adaptability, we quickly changed plans and decided to instead spend the afternoon in the old city of Tel Aviv, Jaffa. Luckily, our bus driver turned out to be an exceptional tour guide as well. Hagi led us from the historic port of Jaffa through an artistic village over a wishing bridge to a view point providing us with a beautiful view of Tel Aviv, all while sharing interesting facts and stories about the city’s history. We were also able to fully indulge in Middle Eastern delicacies in Jaffa due to the old city being filled with small, vibrant cafes and restaurants offering various tasty dishes such as Falafel or Shawarma.

Bus driver / last-minute tour guide Hagi sharing historical facts at the Jaffa port
Group picture in the old city of Jaffa

In the evening, we were honored to be received at the residence of the ambassador of Switzerland in Israel. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by several members of the team at the embassy as well as refreshing beverages and tasty finger food. Following the reception, a presentation was held by Anna-Lise Cattin Hennin, the Deputy Head of Mission, as well as by David Biegeleisen, who is the Innovation Advisor at the embassy. Topics such as the political system of Israel as well as the country’s challenges and opportunities were addressed, including the role of Switzerland in all those aspects. The presentation also offered us new insights into the specific tasks embassy staff fulfils, such as planning and coordinating events involving Swiss and Israeli companies for an intercultural exchange. After, we were given the opportunity to ask questions, followed by a delicious dinner and interesting conversations with the embassy members.

Handing over presents after the interesting presentation held by the embassy members
Group picture at the Residence of the Ambassador of Switzerland in Israel with embassy members and Ruedi Büchi from Swiss Global Enterprise

It was an exciting day with some unexpected turns but a lot of new insights gained and experiences made. Today marks the half-time of our study trip, and we hope it continues to be as amazing as it has been so far! We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Ruedi Büchi from Switzerland Global Enterprise, who helped organize major parts of the program of our study trip and happily joined us for multiple activities.

International Management Study Trip Israel: Day 3

The day began with another healthy breakfast at the hotel Tal by the Beach. Filled with a lot of energy, we drove to the University of Tel Aviv by bus. There, we had the privilege to attend a lecture about the ongoing transformation of the Israeli economy by Dr. Leslie Broudo-Mitts. After this highly informative presentation, we gathered and had the possibility to discover the campus with Sam.

Around noon we had a light lunch on the university campus. Ready for the afternoon, we took the bus to our next stop: The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya. This is the largest private university in Israel and is only 25 years old. First, we had a short introduction from the head of Adelson School of Entrepreneurship, Mr. Amir Lewkowitz, who explained the entrepreneurship programs at IDC. Thereafter, a tour of the media lab was given to us and we had the chance to test the developed robots and toys. Additionally, a former student of the university gave some insights about the study programs and the student life at this special university. In the end, we enjoyed a guided and interesting tour around the campus of IDC by Amir Lewkowitz.


Having gathered many information throughout the day, we drove back to the hotel. As an optional activity, our bus driver gave us the possibility to gain more insights into the Israeli culture by stopping at the Carmel Market in the city center.

International Management Study Trip Israel: Day 2

The second day of the study trip for the International Management Program started with a visit to the HQ of WIX.com Ltd. The company is a cloud-based web development platform that allows every customer to create their own website very easily. The representative of WIX.com first showed us the HQ right at the beach of Tel Aviv.

There upon we visited the conference and gained some insight into the company and the innovative drive of the company. The representative was very eager to answer any questions not only related to the company itself but also regarding Israel’s culture.

Our second stop of the day took us to one of the leading cyber security companies in the world Check Point Software Technologies. The building was highly secured and even visiting the bathroom had to be overlooked by one of the employees. We were introduced to the company in a fairly futuristic setting and surprisingly our presenter, Raphael Bitterli introduced himself in Swiss-German as he is Swiss.

We gained an insight into the easiness of hacking and its various forms as well as measures to prevent being hacked. Most of us were extremely surprised and will definitely give cyber security a second thought. Since most of us were close to starvation we were very thankful for the apéro provided at the end of our company visist.

The last activity of our second day in Tel Aviv took us back to the city center where we enjoyed a guided tour of the city’s infamous white city.

Our guide was a history graduate specialized in Bauhaus architecture and gave us a lot of interesting facts about how history is reflected in Tel Aviv’s architecture.

It was an exhausting but interesting day and we are looking forward to the rest of the week.

Greetings from Tel Aviv.