Our business community during COVID-19
The COVID-19 crisis has had a massive impact on businesses around the globe. During this time, community, communication and solidarity have been more important than ever.
A community stands together, in good times and bad.
We have created this page to share stories of how our member companies have been participating in the coronavirus crisis response and how we are supporting the international business community through our policy actions.
We are here to listen to and learn from you, so don’t hesitate to contribute to this resource page and share your stories with the community.
GTT’s Happy Coach initiative helps preserve a culture of collaboration when working from home
When COVID-19 forced many to stay home, GTT took several measures. Their customers needed more connectivity and bandwidth to enable their employees to work remotely, and their team needed to get all this done mostly from home. To top things up, they experienced a surge of roughly 30% in total traffic across their internet network since the outbreak – a rate that is typically experienced over the course of an entire year, rather than a few weeks.
While the company continued operations remotely and managed to adapt to the situation very quickly, at the beginning it looked as if working in silos was on the rise again. Fortunately, the Happy Coaches stepped in. These are enthusiastic and creative people from departments across the company, and their purpose is to create a culture of collaboration, health and a fun place to work.
The program started well before the pandemic, including many internal training sessions, a company-wide effort for the main Belgian charity donation week and many cross-departmental informal meetings and outings. During COVID-19, the Happy Coaches came up with a variety of new initiatives to boost cross-departmental collaboration. In a short time, the program went fully virtual with generally the same impact as before the crisis. This helped GTT immensely to preserve a well-established culture of collaboration which greatly benefits their customers.
July 13, 2020
Estée Lauder Companies contributes to COVID-19 relief support in Belgium
As the world is faced with the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) stands with the global community to help limit the spread of the virus and ease the related economic hardships faced by the communities in which we live and work. Guided by its family values and a spirit of giving, the company has made contributions to support the well-being of our global communities.
In addition to these global contributions, The Estée Lauder Companies is providing support to several local organizations across Belgium including:
- Donating hand and face creams to the University Hospitals Leuven (Belgium) which will be distributed to front-line hospital workers.
- ELC’s manufacturing facility in Oevel joined the company’s ongoing efforts at its Melville (New York) and Whitman (UK) facilities to produce hand sanitizer. The hand sanitizer will be donated to frontline healthcare professionals in the region of Oevel, including the Kempen Networks of Hospitals, Veiligheidscentrum De Marly, University Hospitals Leuven, and the care centers of Perwijshof Armonea, Rustoord Vlaspand and Parel der Kempen.
As the COVID-19 crisis evolves, ELC will continue to align its philanthropic resources based on emerging needs, prioritizing food, medical and emergency assistance.
July 10, 2020
Vlamingen in de Wereld helps Flemish people stay informed and connected during the COVID-19 crisis
During the COVID-19 crisis, Vlamingen in de Wereld (VIW) has been helping many Flemish people – living in different parts of the world – navigate these uncertain times.
Depending on the location and anticipated impact of the coronavirus, VIW first links those in need to the Belgian diplomatic network abroad, as the local authorities know best the specific administrative procedures in each country. VIW also acts as an information provider through different online channels. Moreover, the network of representatives in each country is of great added value to VIW, certainly in this difficult period. This was evident during the repatriation of larger groups of citizens throughout these past months.
VIW contributes to the extended Facebook group #BelgenVoorElkaar #BelgesSolidaires #BelgierFürEinander by providing answers to the posted question. The group was set up to assist stranded Belgians abroad.
If you or someone you know is need of help during this time, you can join the expat community of Vlamingen in de Wereld. They will facilitate your stay, wherever you live.
June 18, 2020
MSD (known as Merck in the US) starts multiple collaborations to combat COVID-19
MSD and IAVI announced a new collaboration to develop an investigational vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 to be used for the prevention of COVID-19. MSD has also signed an agreement with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to provide initial funding support for this effort. Under the agreement, MSD and IAVI will work together to advance the development and global clinical evaluation of a SARSCoV-2 vaccine candidate. The vaccine candidate is in preclinical development, and clinical studies are planned to start later in 2020. Both organizations will work together to develop the vaccine and make it accessible and affordable globally, if approved. Read more.
MSD is also collaborating with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP to develop EIDD-2801, an orally available antiviral candidate currently in early clinical development for the treatment of patients with COVID-19. Read more.
MSD will acquire Themis, a company specializing in vaccines and immunomodulating therapies for infectious diseases, including COVID-19. The planned acquisition builds upon an ongoing collaboration between the two companies to develop vaccine candidates using the measles virus vector platform, and is expected to accelerate the development of Themis’ COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Read more.
June 2, 2020
Pfizer’s response to the COVID19 crisis
At the beginning of May, Pfizer and BionTech announced that the first participants have been dosed in the US in the Phase 1/2 clinical trial for the BNT162 vaccine program to prevent COVID-19. The Phase 1/2 study is designed to determine the safety, immunogenicity and optimal dose level of four mRNA vaccine candidates evaluated in a single, continuous study. In anticipation of a successful clinical development program, Pfizer and BioNTech are working to scale up production for global supply. The Pfizer site in Puurs, Belgium has been identified as one of the manufacturing centers for COVID-19 vaccine production. Read more.
Pfizer has also joined forces with a broad cross-section of private industry organizations to help strengthen the power of big data in the COVID-19 response. Pfizer is one of the early pharma companies to join the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition, hoping to apply real-world data to improve their decision making in the development of therapies and vaccines to fight COVID-19. Read more.
Together and United against the Coronavirus
During the COVID-19 pandemic, United Fund for Belgium launched a new campaign – “Together and United against the Coronavirus” – to provide immediate assistance to associations that are most at risk and in need of help during these challenging times.
The associations that United Fund for Belgium supports, the vast majority of which are very small, are facing significant challenges to meet the requirements of social distancing rules and hygiene now that the deconfinement has started. Moreover, now and in the aftermath of COVID-19, many people with or without disabilities and people from different socio-economic background will, more than ever, need support.
As many companies and their employees stand together and participate in the crisis response in Belgium, United Fund for Belgium is making a call for donations to support the critical needs of their associations.
Contact Catherine Tricot at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
May 15, 2020
Deloitte launches the 'Virtual Hugs' initiative with Close the Gap and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel
At the beginning of April, Deloitte, Close the Gap, and VUB launched 'Virtual Hugs', an initiative to help elderly people in residential care homes and patients in hospitals stay in contact with family and friends and overcome loneliness while visits are not allowed.
The organizations are collecting used tablets and smartphones that are distributed to residential care homes and hospitals.
In the first week alone, 320 devices were delivered to 147 institutions, making an impact on the lives of approximately 7,000 people. In addition to contributions from other organizations, the Flemish Government recently pledged their support with a financial donation of € 375,000.
May 4, 2020
ONTOFORCE launches DISQOVER COVID-19 Edition
ONTOFORCE recently launched a beta version of the DISQOVER COVID-19 Edition – free of charge to everyone and updated daily!
It is a coronavirus-specific edition of the company’s self-service knowledge discovery platform that aims to improve the organization, integration and accessibility of rapidly evolving information related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DISQOVER COVID-19 Edition brings together siloed knowledge as it emerges around the world into one place. Included are up-to-date information on clinical studies, scholarly articles, patent documents, drugs and other interventions, genes and disease phenotypes, and much more.
April 29, 2020
Delta extends change-fee waivers, onboard social distancing, and free travel for medical volunteers
Delta Air Lines is committed to ensuring the protection of their customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Offering greater flexibility to change travel plans and applying social distancing on the ground and in the air, are just some of the actions they are taking. To serve the communities, Delta is offering free flights to medical volunteers traveling to hard-hit US cities. Just like their customers, they’re continuing to learn as they go.
"Above all, the safety of our customers – as well as that of our employees – is our top priority."
April 29, 2020
Kemin’s contribution to the crisis response
Kemin has been working on building a close relationship between the industry and the community in these challenging times.
They made a big donation of protective suits to the University Hospital of Mol, as well as of 200 mouth masks to the emergency room of the regional hospital.
They are also working on closing the digital gap, by supporting ‘jeugdzorg Cirkant vzw’. They donated 13 laptops, allowing vulnerable youngsters, living in difficult social conditions, to participate in remote learning and prevent social isolation.
“In the upcoming weeks and months, Kemin will keep investigating where it is possible to support the community as charity is a part of our natural way of working.”
April 27, 2020
Telenet’s Social Commitment
Telenet remains committed to keeping everyone connected, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. The company has taken many initiatives to help people stay in touch with each other and has shown its support to those with fewer opportunities in the digital world during this difficult period.
- Telenet has been supporting DigitalForYouth.be by donating 9,000 laptops and over € 50,000 for underprivileged school children. Read more.
- Belgium analyzes telecom data to measure the impact of confinement: The Belgian Minister of Health (Maggie De Block) and the Minister of Telecom, Digital & Privacy (Philippe De Backer) have received the first results from the “Data Against Corona” taskforce that combines telecom data and epidemiological data in a privacy-friendly and GDPR-compliant model. Telenet, Proximus and Orange shared telecom data and helped analyze them. Read more.
- The company has also provided TV services and smartphones to patients in hospitals, young people with mental health issues, and the elderly in residential care centers. Read more.
- They hand out vouchers to young students who do not have an internet connection at home so they can connect to their ‘Telenet Wi-Free’ signal. Read more.
- They are also technically and financially supporting SafeLink, an online tool allowing GPs to virtually monitor COVID-19 patients.
- A donation of 75 laptops was made to Deelbaar Mechelen and the City of Mechelen, to be distributed to vulnerable families.
- Telenet has provided a 4G router to Zorabots’ ‘James’ robots, which are at the disposal of Belgian nursing homes for free, allowing a stronger connectivity in the care homes.
April 27, 2020
FB-Tax & Private Wealth Law's virtual introductory talk
FB-Tax & Private Wealth Law is offering virtual introductory talks, free of charge, in order to help you with your company, family situation, and assets. They will also work on pointing out the direction towards a solution, indicating in broad terms which options you can consider, who you need for this and roughly what the financial impact might be.
April 27, 2020
#StrongerTogether: BNP Paribas Fortis gives thanks and encouragement to all our everyday heroes
BNP Paribas Fortis is contributing in many ways to the crisis response.
They have donated more than €2.3 million to hospitals, food banks and charities fighting poverty and homelessness.
They are helping microStart, a microcredit organization co-founded by the bank in 2011, launch its support plan for micro-entrepreneurs.
They are supporting the DigitalForYouth.be initiative, which is helping deprived children who need equipment for home schooling (via Close The Gap and the King Baudouin Foundation).
The bank has also actively encouraged their committed employees to join in with efforts by organizing two fundraising campaigns. The first raised almost €24,000 for food banks. The second, for university hospitals, is still underway.
April 24, 2020
Citi’s donation to the King Baudouin Foundation
Citi Belgium has donated to the King Baudouin Foundation’s Fund for Supportive Care in Belgium, which provides support for frontline organizations across the country.
They are supporting the front line in the fight against COVID-19 as part of their already committed $65 million to relief efforts across the world.
April 24, 2020
Chevron Phillips Chemicals International response to COVID-19
"As COVID-19 continues to make an impression around the world, the safety of our employees, contractors, customers and communities is of the utmost importance to us. Measures are being implemented at our facilities and administrative offices globally.
Our operations in the EA region have launched a “Stay Safe, Stay Connected” employee engagement campaign to build upon initiatives implemented at the corporate level, including:
• A weekly “Stay Connected” newsletter with COVID-19 updates, personal stories and employee tips
• Virtual townhalls to facilitate timely Q&A sessions and employee feedback
• Digital newsletters and videos as part of the company’s health and wellness program to share self-help resources and digital access to health experts
• Employee letters mailed with sweet treats to promote safety and connectivity while working remotely"
April 24, 2020
AB InBev raises €6m for restaurants, pubs and bars accross Europe
In Belgium, AB InBev launched Café Courage on March 21st, with nearly 2,000 hospitality outfits signing up in the first few hours. Since then, 75,000 beers have been bought by Belgians to enjoy after social distancing and quarantine measures ease, giving individuals cafés and bars a much-needed financial boost in the meantime. For every order made, AB InBev Belgium will donate the same order in free goods of up to 3.6 million pints of beer.
April 20, 2020
500.000 euro donation from ING Belgium to the King Baudouin Foundation
Half a million Euros have been donated to the King Baudouin Foundation by ING Belgium in the fight against the coronavirus.
The funds will go to the foundation’s Solidarity Fund to help hospitals and elderly care centers, as well as young people and people with disabilities during this crisis.
April 16, 2020
Janssen starts production of disinfectant hand liquid to fill hospital shortages
A new production has started on the Janssen Pharmaceutica production site in Geel to fill the acute shortage of disinfectant hand liquid in Belgian hospitals. The emergency production is realized in close collaboration with the federal government, Zorgnet-Icuro, UZ Leuven, and UZ Gent. Hospitals use disinfectant hand fluid for a wide variety of activities, including performing operations.
In Belgium, about 20,000 liters of disinfectant hand liquid is currently required to meet the demand of various healthcare institutions.
April 9, 2020
IBM responds to the COVID-19 crisis
IBM has partnered with the White House to increase access to high-performance computing, AKA “supercomputing”, for groups researching and fighting COVID-19. Read more.
IBM and its subsidiary, The Weather Channel, have created an interactive map revealing the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases per country and how they have evolved over time.
IBM has also created an online tool offering educational content and guidance on remote learning and teaching to students, teachers and parents during the crisis.
April 9, 2020
Lilly and AbCellera to co-develop antibody therapies for the treatment of COVID-19
Lilly and AbCellera will select from 500+ unique antibodies isolated from one of the first US patients who recovered from COVID-19 to create antibody therapeutics for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19. Their aim is to test potential new therapies within the next four months.
Once the product is developed, Lilly will be responsible for all further development, manufacturing and distribution. If successful, Lilly is ready to work with global regulators to bring a treatment to patients.
April 9, 2020
Coca-Cola partners with almost 50 companies to support #HorecaComeback
Coca-Cola is one of the many companies supporting businesses in the Horeca sector, which have been temporarily shut down due to the COVID-19 crisis, with #HorecaComeback.
This initiative allows customers in Belgium to buy a voucher in order to support their favorite local restaurant, café or bar, which they can then use when this reopens. The chosen establishment directly receives the full value of the voucher, which helps these catering businesses get extra income now that they are closed.
Any Horeca establishment can sign up to the initiative for free.
April 9, 2020
Aon's COVID-19 customer support site
Aon’s Infectious Disease Response Task Force has established this resource site to support organizations in mounting effective infectious disease response, and to plan the impacts that may confront businesses, their employees, and the communities in which businesses operate and employees reside.
The page's aim is to present practical solutions that are actionable, timely and relevant to client needs. It contains content that outlines the impacts that might be expected as an infectious disease event evolves while also helping to connect Aon global subject matter experts with clients to shape decision-making.
April 6, 2020
United Cargo introduces cargo-only services between Brussels and Washington-Dulles
United is introducing cargo-only operations between Brussels (BRU) and Washington-Dulles (IAD) with connections to the West Coast, as well as an extensive trucking network to rest of the US.
This gives United corporates unique opportunities to keep global supply chains running, as the demand for cargo services increase.
April 3, 2020
ExxonMobil donates disinfectant gel to Santhea healthcare workers
Belgian healthcare group Santhea contacted ExxonMobil with an urgent request for disinfectant hand gels needed for its more than 56,000 healthcare workers.
ExxonMobil worked with its local distributor, Anno, to make hand sanitizer in Antwerp.
Anno took care of processing, packaging and delivering the disinfectant and a first delivery of 1,500 liters was made to Santhea. The organization will distribute 5L bottles to the different health care institutions.
April 3, 2020
Dozens of solutions to fight COVID-19 during 'HACK THE CRISIS'
The online hackathon 'HACK THE CRISIS' took place at the end of March.
The 10 best pitches were presented during a live stream on Sunday evening, March 29. With a prize pool of €25,000, the winning teams will be able to further develop their solutions to tackle the corona crisis.
EY’s The Factory team was involved in the practical organization of this event and provided EY mentors. The EY CogniStreamer team provided their platform as the main ideation tool for the hackathon.
April 2, 2020
Crowell & Moring's Legal Assistant
This Virtual Assistant provides entrepreneurs with a tool to navigate in the rapid evolution of regulations approved by the Belgian federal and regional governments in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and explains the consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak for companies and organizations.
The Virtual Assistant is available to the public free of charge in order to provide the most up-to-date information quickly and efficiently.
April 2, 2020
Cargill donates disinfecting alcohol to the Belgian government
100,000 liters have been donated by one of the largest alcohol producers in Europe.
The disinfecting alcohol will be used to produce disifenctant hand gel for emergency services.
In addition to the donation of alcohol, Cargill donated 228 protective Tyvek suits to the city of Vilvoorde, 600 protective jackets to the fire service of Walloon Picardy and 50 P3 masks to the Ghent University Hospital.
April 1, 2020
Kearney has joined forces with several partners to supply surgical masks
Kearney has joined forces with Van De Velde and several other partners to supply surgical masks sewed by Van De Velde to the general hospital in Aalst (AlgemeenStedelijkZiekenhuis, ASZ). Microtherm, which is part of the EtexGroup, is cutting the sterile fabric so that larger volumes can be sewn; Jetcar Expressdienst delivers the surgical masks to the hospital –within the space of one hour; and Kearney coordinates the activities between the various companies.
Johnson & Johnson announces a lead vaccine candidate for COVID-19
Johnson & Johnson announced the selection of a lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate from constructs it has been working on since January 2020: the significant expansion of the existing partnership between the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), and the rapid scaling of the company’s manufacturing capacity with the goal of providing global supply of more than one billion doses of a vaccine.
March 31, 2020
AB InBev announces multimillion Euro package of support for European public health workers
akkanto’s virtual advice hub
akkanto set up a virtual helpdesk initiative where they give initial advice to companies and federations with regard to their internal and external communication actions. This advice can be both strategic and practical in nature. This is free and non-binding initial advice.
March 27, 2020
United Together: United Airlines is flying between Newark and Brussels on March 26 and 27
United Airlines is flying between Newark and Brussels today and tomorrow – the only commercial carrier operating between the US and Belgium at the moment – to help Belgians in the US who have an urgent need to return to Belgium. The airline also has an important but reduced domestic network, connecting to this flight too.
Flight UA999: March 26 and 27 – 8:00 p.m. departure from Newark EWR – 8:05 a.m. arrival in Brussels BRU the next morning. For any urgent help you or your company may need, contact Alexander Vanryckeghem.
In these challenging times, United Airlines plays an essential role in helping to connect people. The airline will rebuild the connections between Brussels and the US at the beginning of May at the earliest.
March 26, 2020