I grew up in a region of Flanders, Belgium, known as the “Texas of Flanders” because of its entrepreneurship and bustling small family businesses. At the end of 1985, I had some tough discussions about the research program in separation sciences within our department at Ghent University. My proposals were not taken seriously. Based on my ‘innate entrepreneurship’ and the fact that industrial collaboration was not really accepted in an academic environment at that time, I decided to quit the university on February 1, 1986. And I had a plan.
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