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About us

Mr. Bessel Kok
Mr. Bessel Kok Chairman

Bessel Kok is a Dutch entrepreneur who currently resides in the Czech Republic. His impressive career path involves top management positions in various international companies. Bessel Kok was founder and president of Swift for Belgium (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication). Thereafter, his ambitions led him to the major Telecom companies throughout Europe.

As a well-known chess and art lover, Bessel Kok was the Chairman of World Chess Grandmaster Association from 1985 until 1991, and was involved in the the 2002 Prague Agreement concerning the World Chess Championship. Bessel Kok is the main initiator and driving force of Bakala Academy. Due to his sharp visions and fast decisions Bakala Academy became reality.

Prof. Koenraad Debackere
Prof. Koenraad Debackere Managing Director KU Leuven

Prof. dr. Ir. Koenraad Debackere obtained his Ph.D. in Management with an ICM-fellowship at the University of Gent after stays as an ICM-fellow and an ICRMOT research assistant at MIT Sloan School of Management. He was a Fulbright-Hays post-doctoral fellow at MIT in 1991-1992. In 1995, he became professor at K.U.Leuven where he teaches Technology and Innovation Management. In 1999, he became the managing director of K.U.Leuven Research & Development, the technology transfer office of K.U.Leuven. He has also been an invited professor in the area of Innovation Management in various academic MBA programs (Manchester Business School, Insead, Milano Politecnico, Tilburg University, Chalmers University). 

He is also actively engaged in technology transfer activities as managing director of K.U. Leuven Research & Development and Chairman of the Gemma Frisius Fonds (the venture fund) of the K.U.Leuven. He is the co-founder and chairman of Leuven.Inc, the innovation network of Leuven high-tech entrepreneurs. He is a board member of IWT-Vlaanderen, the Flemish government agency that supports science and technology development in Flemish industry.

Patrick Lefevere
Patrick Lefevere Board Member

Patrick Lefevere is one of the most successful team leaders in cycling. The man behind 'Omega Pharma-Quick Step' can look back on a successful career in cycling. He is a former rider himself, and won Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and a stage in the Vuelta. As team leader, he has reached the top in working with the best riders. Patrick Lefevere is sometimes called the "Champion Maker".

In his glorious years he worked at the Italian Mapei Lab. With riders like Museeuw, Ballerini, Tafi, Rominger, Olano, Nardelo and Frank Vandenbroucke he won in one-day races everything there is to win. Five times in a row, the team won the World Cup. After leaving Mapei he went to Domo-Farm Frites, Quick-Step-Davitamon and QuickStep-Innergetic, where he again came to work with a top rider, Tom Boonen.

He was president of the AIGCP (all international teams) and IPCT (Pro Tour teams). Today Patrick Lefevere is active as team manager of 'Omega Pharma-Quick Step', which ends in the top five of the UCI WorldTour Team Ranking.

Prof. Peter Hespel
Prof. Peter Hespel Science Director

Prof. dr. Peter Hespel is currently working in the KU Leuven FaBer Department. He obtained his Ph.D. degree in exercise physiology at KU Leuven (Belgium) in 1987. Thereafter he was appointed as a professor in exercise physiology at K.U.Leuven.

His teaching responsibilities include courses in exercise physiology and sports nutrition to students in physical education, physiotherapy and sports medicine. His research interests focus on regulation of carbohydrate and fat metabolism during exercise, sports nutrition and nutritional supplements, as well as performance training in elite cyclists.He has published more than 125 research papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals in the field of exercise physiology.

Prof. Peter Hespel is the director of the performance center for elite athletes at KU Leuven. He is consistently involved in training and nutritional follow-up of elite athletes, primarily cyclists and triathletes.

Auret Van Zyl
Auret Van Zyl Legal Secretary

Auret van Zyl is a business entrepreneur, who currently resides in Switzerland. His career started as a corporate lawyer in the major international law firm, Allen & Overy, after which he founded TMA Partners, a boutique transaction management and advisory business. His passion for elite cycling combined with his legal expertise led him both to the board of 'Omega Pharma-Quick Step' and Bakala Academy.

His broad international career involves major cross-border mergers and acquisitions, equity capital market transactions and joint ventures across Europe, Asia, Africa and the US in a wide range of sectors, including metals & mining, banking, telecommunications and information technology, real estate, pharmaceuticals and energy. Auret is the co-founder of DownTheCorridor, a consultancy business in the legal industry, and Leo Trippi, a boutique travel agency.