Wallonia Export-Investment Agency is delighted to announce that the French ECA Group is setting up in Mouscron.
Founded in 1936, ECA Group specialises in the design, manufacture, marketing and maintenance of equipment and robotic systems that operate in hostile environments
The group is part of the BELGIUM NAVAL & ROBOTICS consortium with NAVAL Group, which in 2019 won the Belgian and Dutch Navy tender to deliver minesweepers fitted with remote-controlled drones and underwater drones.
The Group's new Belgian subsidiary, ECA ROBOTICS BELGIUM SRL, will therefore lead and coordinate for this consortium all ECA GROUP activities in Belgium linked to the drone systems that will be used by the minesweepers.
The project is part of the order for 12 minesweepers for Belgium and the Netherlands, with new (aerial and marine) drone technologies guided by ships. Six ships are for the Belgian Navy and the other six for the Dutch Navy, all fitted with a total of 100 drones, constituting some 10 sub-systems (toolboxes). The ECA GROUP's share of this contract is approximately €450 million over the next ten years.
D. VAN HASSELT, FINANCE MANAGER ECA ROBOTICS BELGIUM
We are all delighted with the decision to set up in Wallonia, where we have found intermediaries wanting to facilitate our set-up.
The Wallonia Export-Investment Agency's Paris office had its first contact with ECA Group via an intermediary in 2019, at the Milipol Event For Homeland Security and Safety. In the dossier submitted in response to the call for tenders, ECA Group proposed setting up sites in Belgium for drone production and R&D.
The Group has two major installation projects in Belgium: a production site in Ostend (due to its access to the sea) and a design office in Mouscron.
This Research & Development centre will eventually have around 20 employees and focus on software development.
Since April 2020, the Mouscron site has become not only the Group's headquarters, but also its design office. The teams, consisting of highly qualified personnel and production workers, began to join the site in June 2020. Recruitment campaigns for engineers have already been scheduled in Wallonia.
The Group chose Mouscron as a site because it is close to both France and Ostend, where the Group's production and integration site continues to grow rapidly.
The ECA Group is interested in two areas in particular:
- sound signal processing and software development, which can take place at the design office in Mouscron
- naval architecture (for small USVs), intended for the future design office
The project does not end there. The national navies of other countries may be interested in the technologies developed by ECA Group in Mouscron. Their commercialisation will be managed from Belgium.
"It has been a great pleasure to work with the employees of the bodies we have been dealing with: Wapinvest, Wallonia Export-Investment Agency and the Mecatech Centre," stated Dominique Van Hasselt, Finance Director of ECA ROBOTICS BELGIUM.
"Each time, we met organisations attentive to our situation and issues and able to either help us directly or direct us to the available aid solutions that could meet our specific needs.