… Pairi Daiza! Eric Domb, the animal park's CEO received the award from King Philippe of Belgium during the Ernst & Young prize ceremony for the French-speaking part of the country, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The prize for "Most Promising Company of the Year" was awarded to OncoDNA, The Cancer Theranostic Company.
Thus, Pairi Daiza follows in the footsteps of Belourthe, last year's winner and Exki in 2010, Concept et Forme in 2006, and EVS Broadcast Equipement in 2000. The other nominees were the service provider IT EASI, the Eloy Group construction firm, and Mithra, the pharmaceutical company based in Liège.
Founded in 1993 by Eric Domb on the site of the former abbey in Cambron-Casteau, Hainaut, over the space of 20 years, the Brugelette park has become the leading tourist attraction in Belgium. Thanks to the arrival of two giant pandas in its new Chinese space in 2014, the garden also enjoys an international reputation, thus joining the closed club of 17 worldwide zoos which house this species. Since then, the company has continued to invest heavily: de-listed a short while ago after a partnership signed with the Flemish entrepreneur Marc Coucke, one of its major projects planned for 2017 is the creation of a new world, the "Cold Land", over an area of more than 6 hectares. Currently, the Walloon animal park offers a surface area of 55 ha, with 5,000 animals, 100 permanent workers and 150 seasonal workers, 8 worlds (including the Chinese garden, which covers 45,000 m2), 12 restaurants, and attracted more than 1.3 million visitors in 2014 and has already achieved a turnover of €50 million in 2015.
After the prize for "Manager of the Year" and "Walloon Citizen of the Year" awarded to Eric Domb in 2008 and 2014, the award for the "Best Zoological Garden and the Most Beautiful Park in Belgium and the Netherlands" last year, and three stars in the Michelin Guide Vert in April 2015, this trophy is the logical next step: it rewards the work of a company "which started from nothing but which has shown itself capable of maintaining its strategy over the past 20 years and developing creative and original concepts", declared Philippe Pire, an associate at Ernst & Young.
In the frame of the prize for "Best Company of the Year", the 3rd edition of the "Most Promising Company of the Year" was also held. Awarded to young enterprises in the development phase, this prize highlights the efforts made by these companies in the field of innovation, spirit of enterprise, strategy, openness to the world and perseverance. This year, it was the start-up from Charleroi, OncoDNA, The Cancer Theranostic Company which took first place, ahead of Domobios & Acar’Up, the "dust mite killers", MyMicroInvest, the crowdfunding platform which enables the public to finance innovative companies, and Universem, an SME experiencing strong growth in the sector of digital market consulting.
OncoDNA, founded in 2012 by Jean-Pol Detiffe, an industrial pharmacist, is a company specialising in cancer treatments. This laboratory based in Gosselies, offers an innovative method called Oncodeep, which uses new-generation DNA sequencing tests in order to identify changes in DNA and, thus the presence and activity of proteins in a patient suffering from cancer. In this way, the firm's experts are able to define the most appropriate treatment for the illness according to the different results. Lists of drugs to be prescribed as well as international clinical studies comprising clinical tests of which the specialist may not necessarily be aware, are then transmitted to the oncologists within barely ten days after the test. Therefore, the start-up offers an innovative, personalised and rapid form of medicine. Finally, it has also developed an Onco Share community on which oncologists, patients, experts and members of OncoDNA are able to communicate freely. In order to help it to develop, the young company was awarded more than €2 million from the public and private sectors (from bio.be and Sambrinvest) and is also supported by the Wallonia Public Service (WPS). Since the launch of the Oncodeep product in May 2013, the company has sold 400 tests for a turnover of about €400,000, more than 2,000 patients have already benefited from the product and 300 people, including 25 pathologists, make up a team which is able to carry out more than 200 analyses a day.