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Building for biotechnology in Belgium


Ipes NV has a 35-year history in the building industry, and over the years its focus has evolved from warehouses and offices to its current specialization in laboratories.

For the past 15 years, the company, located near Gent in Belgium, has been heavily involved in developing the nearby technology park owned by Gent University, where there are currently 3,000 scientists working for all the major players in the biotechnology industry.

The university wants to position itself as a major European player in this area, and Ipes hopes to continue its role as a key partner, developing the site to the newest and most high-tech standards. This project has resulted in contracts with other companies, especially in the agricultural biotechnology field, where Ipes is currently very active.

Another recent project was for a printing company which manufactures labels for plastic containers for the food industry, for example yogurt pots. “We built the offices, laboratories and production area to the exacting standards required in the food business,” says Thierry Storme, Managing Director and 80% owner of Ipes.

Although Ipes also undertakes contracts for warehouses and offices, laboratory construction is its primary market. The firm employs seven staff in total, including four head engineers who have been with the company for over 15 years, providing continuity to the team and to client contact.

On site the firm works with subcontractors, some of whom have been working with Ipes for 35 years. The business is profitable; turnover in 2015 reached 15 million EUR and is expected to grow slightly in 2016. Approximately 50% of turnover comes from client projects and 50% from the company’s own developments, which are either sold or rented out when completed.

For some larger projects, temporary partnerships are set up for the duration of the work. Activities are centered around the Gent area as there is a huge amount of work in the laboratory field. This is proven by the fact that the Ipes order book is full for the next three years. This is a fantastic achievement and bears testament to the quality of its work.

“Most important is that the client is satisfied,” concludes Mr. Storme. “We meet regularly with our clients, so if something is wrong, clients can just call me, and I can deal with it right away. That is an advantage of being a small company.”

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