Presentation of the BVA Private Equity Awards 2020: Belgian top companies in the spotlight

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BVA Awards winner

For the third time now, the Belgian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (BVA), together with its partner BNP Paribas Fortis, is handing out awards to Belgian enterprises which have achieved a noteworthy rate of growth with the support of private equity or venture capital investors.

The private equity industry deals with a company’s entire development cycle. To reflect this, the award distinguishes between three segments: Venture, Growth and Buy-out.1

The jury selected three nominated companies for each in an initial phase:

  • Venture: iStar Medical, PDC*line Pharma and Unifly
  • Growth: CluePoints, Cegeka and OncoDNA
  • Buy-out: Amadys, CID LINES and Dstny

All these companies are growing strongly in terms of turnover, profitability and employment. They are developing their international activities at a fast pace from their home base and making an active contribution to real economic growth. They are illustrative of a successful partnership between enterprising management and investors.

The winners of the BVA Private Equity Awards 2020 are:

iSTAR Medical (Venture)

iSTAR Medical, founded in 2011 and headquartered in Waver, specialises in medical equipment; more specifically, ophthalmic implants for the treatment of glaucoma.

Glaucoma is the second commonest cause worldwide of blindness in adults, affecting more than 92 million people.

Micro-invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) is the most promising and fastest-growing therapeutic option in the treatment of glaucoma.

iSTAR Medical is developing MINIject as a best-in-class MIGS device. MINIject is a powerful, reliable solution which safely reduces intraocular pressure in patients with glaucoma.

The highly positive results achieved over 18 success months in the first study with patients (STAR-I) confirms MINIject’s potential.

In 2020, the company completed a financing round for 40 million euros to support MINIject’s development through to commercialisation in Europe and the United States.

The financing was managed by the healthcare funds LSP and Gimv, with the participation of Earlybird and BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity. Existing shareholders Capricorn Partners, Gewestelijke Investeringsmaatschappij voor Wallonië (SRIW) and the Belgisch Federaal Investeringsfonds (SFPI‐FPIM) also took part.

With iSTAR Medical, the judges honoured a medical technology company which, in MINIject, has developed a therapeutic treatment and which, following best in class clinical trials, offers very positive prospects to glaucoma patients and the attending ophthalmologists.

A decision on CE marking is expected towards the end of 2020 and the company is now engaged in the FDA approval procedure.

The judges also gave consideration to the professional governance approach and the strategic choice of remaining financially independent of major pharmaceutical concerns in this phase.

Cegeka (Growth)

Cegeka is a leading European provider of IT solutions. The IT company specialises in multicloud solutions, cloud orchestration, outsourcing, cybersecurity and the optimisation of applications, infrastructure and business processes. In addition, Cegeka focus on installing mobile private networks (MPNs) in a business environment.

The family-owned company was founded in 1992 by André Knaepen. In 2017 Gimv, via a significant minority share, added LRM as a financial partner. The company wanted to expand geographically and strengthen its position in existing markets by this operation.

In the year 2020, CEO Stijn Bijnens leads the company from its headquarters in Hasselt.

The IT company has seen strong growth in the past years. Cegeka has reported an annual increase in turnover of 15% to 20%. In 2019, the company numbered almost 5,000 employees and generated a consolidated turnover of 561 million euros. Today, Cegeka has a good 6,000 employees spread across the whole of Europe, with offices in the Benelux, Germany, Austria, Romania, Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, France and Russia, with Moldova as a recent addition.

The judges rated Cegeka’s capacity for technological adaptation highly. In the past decades, the company showed a continuous growth trajectory in turnover and profits by evolving its range of products and services in line with its clients’ rapidly changing needs. Sound acquisitions were made with appropriate timing.

In the past 5 years, employment rose (organically and by acquisition) to 6,000 workers, a growth of no less than 80%. Finally, the judges considered that the main family shareholder had opened up the capital intelligently with a view to Cegeka’s continuity and growth.

Dstny (Buy-out)

Dstny, founded in 2008 and Belgian by origin, is a provider of secure cloud communications solutions, focusing mainly on innovative Dutch, Belgian and French enterprises. Now with more than 300 employees spread across France, Belgium and the Netherlands and a turnover of 85 million euros in 2019, the telecom company is the fastest-growing cloud and telecom player on the B2B market.

Using the Dstny cloud platform, companies can communicate more efficiently from anywhere and with any device thanks to the seamless blend of telecom and IT in the underlying architecture. Dstny thereby offers highly flexible and scalable solutions, which are perfectly tailored to the customer’s current and future needs.

In November 2019, Dstny exchanged its financial partner Mentha Capital for Apax Partners. With Mentha Capital's support, the company had grown to become the leading B2B cloud communications challenger in the Benelux. The advent of Apax Partners marks the initiation of pan-European growth.

In Dstny, the judges honoured a fast and profitable growth company. In 2008, the company was still a start-up operating from the bedroom of brothers Daan and Samuel De Wever. Twelve years later, Dstny has an expected turnover of 95 million euros and an EBITDA of 15 million euros, five times that of 2016. The judges praised the clear vision and the strategy to be pursued in cloud communications, as well as the clear way this was communicated. By expanding its own technology, Dstny makes itself less dependent on the major telecom players.

A close and successful partnership with a first private equity investor transformed the company from a local player into a full-blown Benelux player. Following the advent of the new private equity partner, European expansion beckons.


The winners were officially announced at a digital ceremony on 29 October 2020.

“We are very pleased to have been able to arrange this award ceremony for the third time now. This year, we again put the spotlight on nine nominated top companies which have growth and international expansion in common, in Europe and beyond. The judges selected three deserving winners. All winners and nominees individually are wonderful illustrations of the partnership between entrepreneurs and managers on the one hand and private equity investors on the other - the latter not only providing capital but also helping companies with advice and support,” said BVA Chairperson Joëlle Starquit,.

Didier Beauvois, Head of Corporate Banking and Member of the Executive Board of BNP Paribas Fortis added: "As a co-founder of the BVA Private Equity Awards we were once again very enthusiastic co-organisers of this event. We do it because, on the one hand, we think it is very important to make Belgian growth business stand out. On the other, this partnership provides us with the opportunity to demonstrate how private equity can realise companies’ growth potential. We have been offering companies prospects in every phase of the life cycle by this means for more than 35 years. We are therefore strongly convinced of the power of this form of financing”.

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