Driven by Data with VLAIO

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Open Summer of Code is happy to be back. Although it is not summer, we got a chance to work on one more project this fall for VLAIO – Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

The goal of our project is to create a tool that would visualize VLAIO’s data.

But in this blog post, we want to talk more about VLAIO, their project – VLAIO Network and oSoc’s contribution to it.

What is VLAIO?

Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, or VLAIO in Dutch, is a place where entrepreneurs can get any kind of help related to entrepreneurship. VLAIO also encourages organizations to be more innovative, it supports them financially and offers coaching.

VLAIO network is a community and a platform created by VLAIO itself for its partnering organizations. VLAIO works on this project since 2016 and officially it was introduced this January. Its goal is to inspire each other, to create a stimulating and supportive environment and to provide the learning opportunities for the Flemish companies.

Since last year, VLAIO started focusing on their own data and trying to find the ways on how it can be used for good.

oSoc and VLAIO collaboration

For this project, we work in the team of nine together with Maarten Lambrechts who is a data journalist and a data designer, and also our coach!

Our goal is to create a tool (for internal use only) that would visualize data provided by VLAIO in an interactive and efficient way. It will help to get the understanding of how and when different companies get in touch with VLAIO or their partners, and what kind of services (coaching, advice, financial aid…) they need. This makes it possible to make recommendations to them about the next steps and to optimize our own services.

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Davy Postelmans – a researcher for VLAIO for the past five years who does data research and data evaluation, mainly in retail, says the following about the project: “Every company has a lot of data, but our management has a desire to grow into a more data-driven agency. If we can become more data-driven we can predict which companies need what kind of service so that we can help them faster. We are also becoming more customer-oriented and being data-driven will allow us to make the right connections. This is our main focus”.

In the 21st century it is important to network and to create a community

Davy also thinks it is a great possibility not only for the students to get the new opportunities but also for VLAIO to get fresh ideas and insights from those students. And it is true, our team was able to look at this project from a different angle. According to VLAIO, it is already beyond their expectations and this is good news for us.

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“It is always useful to have additional hands to work on the project”, – Davy says. He continues: “This is also the first time we work with the students. It can be a good experience for them, they are able to feel and to live the business life”.

Our team already has worked at VLAIO’s office several times and pitched the ideas to the VLAIO’s employees. The beautiful view from the eighteenth floor and free coffee are only a few of the nice advantages we have.

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According to Davy, it is important to work with the young experts. “Students and young professionals can give us a new view on data and the latest advanced techniques. We know what we want to achieve but the proposals of the new ideas are always welcomed”, – he says.

Learn more about VLAIO Netwerk here and follow us on Twitter for more updates.

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