Economic missions open new doors for companies: the case of N-SIDE

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Donokhon Abulkasimova

Six months after taking part in the Belgian economic mission to Japan in December 2022, N-SIDE signs a contract with the Japanese power exchange.

Another proof of the effectiveness of this type of mission abroad in opening doors for our companies. It is also an opportunity to introduce you to a leader in intelligent automation. Their mathematical tool is formidable for tracking down all forms of waste, both in energy and clinical trial logistics at the pharma level.

Wallonia Export and Investment Agency (AWEX) representative Marie Ledru recently conducted an inspiring interview with Philippe Chevalier, Professor of Operations Research at UCLouvain, an expert in optimization and AI for industry and CEO at N-SIDE. This mathematics enthusiast uses his expertise to promote the energy transition and a more sustainable world. 



"Belgium does not have much land to offer to meet the climate challenge, but we do have ideas."

Philippe Chevalier, CEO at N-SIDE


AWEX: Hello Philippe. Could you first remind us how N-SIDE was born?

Philippe: The company was founded 23 years ago out of the frustration I experienced as a university professor teaching my students amazing things that were not being used in practice. This incredible potential for optimization existed in theory, but companies were saying it was not possible to implement it. Hence my desire to take matters into my own hands.


"N-SIDE is the result of a vision, a childhood dream to become an inventor like Thomas Edison."

Philippe Chevalier



AWEX: What is N-SIDE's objective? 

Philippe: Our project is long-term and based on the premise that sustainable development is the only option for the future. I was already explaining to my first investor more than 20 years ago why our company would have a future. These certainties are still alive today, as there will soon be 10 billion people on Earth, but we only have one planet, and the imbalance in living standards between Western countries and the rest of the world will no longer be tenable. We will therefore need to generate a quality of life equivalent to what we have in the West, with ten times fewer resources, to ensure a decent standard of living for everyone. Therefore, one of the keys is optimization.




"The future of humanity depends on optimizing resources."

Philippe Chevalier

AWEX: In practical terms, how do we go about optimizing resources?

Philippe: We have developed mathematical calculation tools, implemented as algorithms that automatically detect resource losses and thus avoid waste. 

In terms of energy, this tool enables electricity infrastructure providers to adapt to the significant variability of renewable energy production (directly dependent on the weather) and thus guarantee the resilience of the power grid. Artificial intelligence provides more dynamic forecasts and real-time information about network capacity. 

The same principle applies at the pharma level. The software we have designed avoids a great deal of stress and waste (of resources, time and money) during clinical trials, thanks to highly accurate predictions in terms of both recruitment (of doctors and patients) and stock management (managing short shelf-lives). This is particularly useful when we consider that three-quarters of all medicines frequently have to be thrown away.


AWEX: So could this tool be useful in all sectors of activity? 

Philippe: Of course. Waste starts in our fridges. All large businesses are already required to produce an annual report on CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and sustainable development, and some are already setting up dedicated resource optimization teams. Our intelligent optimization tools are there to help them, and we are also there to guide them and help them ask the right questions, such as which is better -  investing in an electric van or taking goods by train? When it comes to optimization, there's a lot to think about down to the last detail. We are here to help players make the right decisions. 


AWEX: So Japan was won over by your tool during the royal mission? 

Philippe: We had already identified Japan as a potential target because, as an island country, it faces particular problems in managing its power grids, but this mission broke the deadlock. The Wallonia Export & Investment Agency offices in Japan were able to get us appointments with the key contacts, so it certainly opens doors. Above all, it created momentum as we were able to meet a huge number of players over a week. We haven't even had to return to Japan apart from now to sign the contract. The mission was the trigger, and the rest happened from a distance. This partnership with the Japan Electric Power Exchange (JEPX) also marks our entry into the Japanese market with a new office in Tokyo.

"I encourage companies to take advantage of these missions. Our success in Japan is proof that nothing ventured, nothing gained."

Philippe Chevalier


N-SIDE and JEPX representatives
at the Embassy of Belgium in Japan 


AWEX: You already have an office in the United States and employ over 180 here in Louvain-la-Neuve. What kind of specialists do you recruit? 

Philippe: A quarter of our staff have PhDs in applied mathematics. Thirty four  nationalities work together for N-SIDE. They come from universities all over the world, as well as from every Belgian university. We also work a lot with TRAIL.

N-SIDE aims to bring companies up to date with the latest scientific advances in optimization. So we need to stay in touch with the world of research, and that is why I am also staying on as a part-time Professor at the University of Louvain. As a super high-tech company, we want to remain at the cutting edge of new technological developments. We are also committed to funding research centers to train students and create a virtuous circle to promote sustainable development. 


Interview conducted by: Marie Ledru, AWEX


N-SIDE sincerely thanks AWEX for their partnership and unwavering support. Their efforts have been instrumental in our global success, opening doors and creating meaningful opportunities. We are grateful for their belief in our vision and dedication to promoting sustainability. We look forward to continuing this fruitful partnership as we strive towards a more sustainable and optimized future together.


About N-SIDE 

N-SIDE is a Belgian scale-up that empowers participants in the electricity exchange market  to make better decisions and optimize the use of critical resources. We’re doing so by combining deep industry expertise with applied mathematics and artificial intelligence into easy to use and cutting-edge software that transforms uncertainty and complexity into deterministic outcomes. 

In Energy, we accelerate the transition towards renewable energy sources and electrification by enabling leading electricity distribution companies and market players in making better, faster, and safer decisions with machine learning and mathematical optimization technologies. N-SIDE is headquartered in Belgium with offices in the USA and now soon in Japan, serving customers from across the world.


about awex

The Wallonia Export-Investment Agency (AWEX) is in charge of the development and management of Wallonia's international economic relations. With regards to foreign trade, the Agency has a promotion and information mission with regard to both the international and Walloon business community.

AWEX offers an extensive program of international missions covering 22 sectors and 60 countries. The 2023 Action Programme focuses on Wallonia's key export sectors, including chemicals and pharmaceuticals, electrical and electronic machinery, transport equipment, plastics and rubber, food and drink, and Green Tech. Walloon companies have various opportunities to participate, such as collective pavilions, trade fairs, economic missions, contact days, seminars, princely missions, and B2B events with foreign buyers.