Life Sciences and Smart Cities Startups Star in Antwerp

In our newest member blog post, we cover Antwerp’s growing startup scene.
Sofia Kousa
on August 20, 2019

Antwerp is an ideal place to build a startup for several reasons. For one, it’s located in Belgium, the center of Europe with access to multiple markets and countries. In Antwerp, people mainly speak Dutch but also English and French, so one is likely to find a talented workforce with multilingual abilities. Besides its central location and multicultural aspects, Antwerp is home to a number of resources and events crafted to help grow the local startup ecosystem.

The Antwerp Startup Fair has been hosted four times, most recently on April 25, 2019. It’s a place for startups to meet each other and to find suppliers, customers, and new employees. The event also hosts matchmaking programs and workshops. Also of note, StartupVillage is a facility located in the heart of Antwerp’s startup movement. It provides startups with office space, networking, and knowledge and business expertise. In addition to Startup Village, Antwerp’s startup infrastructure includes incubators, accelerators, and university research centers.

According to Startup Genome’s 2019 Global Startup Ecosystem Report, Antwerp is poised for success in the Smart Cities sub-sector. Since 2014, over 120 smart city projects in Belgium worth around $1.1 billion have been financed by the European Investment Bank and Belfius. The city of Antwerp, the region of Flanders and IMEC are collaborating to create a Smart Cities living lab out of Antwerp and its port in hopes to aid startups on testing and commercializing their products and services. Also, a noteworthy innovation hub for IoT and AI called The Beacon is focused on Smart Cities, logistics, and industry 4.0.

Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium, is home to five universities with Life Sciences departments and research teams plus four academic hospitals for research collaboration. The Antwerp-based imec is Europe’s largest independent nano tech R&D center and is developing Life Sciences-centric tools. Antwerp is also home to the Institute of Tropical Medicine, which aims to advance public health in developing countries and research tropical health care specifically. Another Life Sciences focused center is the Bluehealth Innovation Center that stimulates innovation and entrepreneurship between technology and healthcare. Undoubtedly, Antwerp is seeing success in Life Sciences.

Some interesting data points about Antwerp’s ecosystem in our 2019 assessment include:

  • Ranked one of the top 30 global ecosystems for funding
  • The total ecosystem value for Antwerp is $7.7 billion
  • Organizations can deduct up to 85% of their net innovation income from their taxable base


Our member, the City of Antwerp, is the official organization of the city of Antwerp. Their website is filled with online services and practical information about the city. Their e-counter page has a wealth of resources pertaining to entrepreneurs specifically and offers information around themes, sectors, regulations.  

“Antwerp has a very strong economic backbone for startups to leverage, with the second largest port in Europe and the second largest oil and chemical cluster in the world,” shares Claude Marinower, Vice Mayor for Economy, Innovation and Digitalisation.

Would you like to become a startup ecosystem ambassador for Antwerp? Please get in touch with us.

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