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Altano is feeling its oats in Flanders! The German group, which includes nearly 40 equine practices and clinics across Europe, is acquiring Via Nova. Located in Flanders’ Limburg province, Via Nova is a top-notch equine clinic run by entrepreneur and scientist Jan Spaas and veterinarian Marc Suls, who are both internationally renowned experts in the equestrian world.

World-class expertise from Flanders

Via Nova, which opened in 2019, has more than 30 employees and accounts for over 3,000 consultations per year. The clinic covers over 8,000 square meters and includes departments for orthopedics, surgery, medical imaging and hospitalization. It was launched after a EUR 6 million capital injection from private players, KBC Bank and the government of Flanders, including the region’s investment company PMV.

Via Nova is also known as an important scientific center and is renowned for its innovative treatments. In 2019, the center was the world’s first-ever equine clinic to use smart, augmented-reality (AR) glasses during surgery, allowing surgeons to project scanned images during the procedure for more precise work.

Science and growth hand in hand

The clinic’s unique scientific approach and rapid growth are partly thanks to its founders, who will remain involved following the acquisition by Altano. One of the funders is veterinarian Marc Suls, who gained fame as a sport horse trader and team doctor during several Olympic Games and world championships.

The other founders are the couple Jan Spaas and Sarah Broeckx, both PhDs in veterinary medicine. They pioneered ground-breaking stem cell therapies to treat, among other things, osteoarthritis in horses. Having developed several innovative medicines in this domain, they have 13 patents and 37 scientific publications to their name. They also founded the veterinary stem cell company GST, which was acquired by pharma giant Boehringer Ingelheim in 2020.

Known the world over

The reputation of the three veterinarians has attracted many well-known clients to Via Nova, including Jessica Springsteen (the daughter of musician Bruce Springsteen), and the wife of US ex-presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Via Nova also helped riders sponsored by well-known brands such as Christian Dior, Porsche, Zara and Lego.

We were looking for a partner to expand our expertise and international contacts. With Altano, we found such a partner.

Jan Spaas
co-founder of Via Nova

Internationally attractive sector

The equestrian world has long been drawn to Flanders, which has a solid reputation for breeding, trading and providing innovative care for horses.

As such, in 2020, Flanders’ equine industry accounted for an export value of EUR 65 million. Furthermore, the region is home to nearly 200,000 equines. That’s 14 per square meter or 30 per 1,000 people – one of the highest densities per capita in Europe. And at the 2020 Summer Olympics, no less than 28% of all participating horses – 25 out of 90 – can trace their roots back to Belgium and Flanders as a region.

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