“Antwerp is one of the most attractive cities for international startups or scaleups to grow. 16 incubators and accelerators, 3 innovation hubs, numerous VC’s, knowledge institutions, talent… all the elements of an ecosystem are present in abundance. And we as a government facilitate and support this dynamic. We are Open for Business.”
Erica Caluwaerts, vice-mayor for Economy and Innovation
“The Port of Antwerp is an open innovation platform where unprecedented opportunities are offered to test and implement innovative solutions. If it works here, you can roll it out all over the world.”
Piet Opstaele, Manager Innovation enablement at Port of Antwerp
2nd largest port of Europe
Nº1 integrated chemical cluster in Europe
6th for Business Friendliness (by fDi)
2nd best mid/small city for connectivity (by fDi Intelligence)
3rd most innovative economy in the world (ZEW/ISI/BDI innovationsindikator 2020)
Most funded industries in the last 3 years: Health – Enterprise software – Fintech increased by 30% since 2016
$469M VC funding raised in the period of 2015-2022
53.000 students in the city of Antwerp
10,9% of enterprises are active in the creative industries in Antwerp
More than 25% speaks 3 or more foreign languages
19,5 billion € added value generated by our companies
Antwerp is your gateway to Europe and the rest of the world. With 60% of European purchasing power in a 500km range, the city is the shortest route to major European industrial and consumer markets.
The superb connectivity of Antwerp, together with the strong business-drive of its people, makes Antwerp a major economic hub, boasting the second largest port in Europe with its biggest chemical cluster, the Europe’s largest diamond trade centre and Belgium’s favorite retail destination.
The City of Antwerp has been firmly committed to foster ecosystems for innovation and became a hotspot in Europe for digital innovation (IOT/AI), circular economy (excels in EU on sustainable chemistry) and health, resulting in a vibrant ecosystem including 3 innovation hubs who provide a soft landing for international startups and scaleups.
Being a cultural and creative hub, 97% agrees Antwerp is a great place to live (Eurostat).
The city welcomes more than 50,000 students annually to its numerous institutions of higher education.
Land & Start
SETTLING IN THE CITY
European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals can settle in Belgium without needing a Belgian residence permit. To reside in Belgium for a long period or gain permanent status, there are other types of residence statuses.
Nationals outside the EEA and Switzerland can make use of different procedures, depending on their situation. Examples are the permit for self-employed workers, work permit, and the single permit.
If you never lived in Belgium before, you must register at the Antwerp Immigration Office within eight days of arriving in the country and apply for a residence permit (don’t forget to take along your photos). After a couple of months, the city administration will ask you to come and pick up your Belgian residence permit. All the necessary info about setting up a company, getting the required permits for your workforce and talking to the right administration offices can be found on the website of Flanders Investment & Trade.
Options to move to the Flemish Region and obtain a work permit vary and depend on the status of the founder (EU or non-EU citizen). Here you can find the most generic ways of settling for work in Belgium.
Foreign-owned businesses operating in the Belgian market may be subject to one or more of four types of taxation: Value Added Tax (VAT), Corporate Income Tax,Personal Income Tax and Local Tax. Information and support on Taxation, as well as on tax benefits, is available here.
STARTING YOUR BUSINESS
- Start it @KBC;
- The Birdhouse;
- Netwerk Ondernemen;
- Plug and Play Tech Center Antwerp;
- The Circular Kickstart;
Grants & Subventions:
- Database for grants and subsidies by the City of Antwerp (in Dutch);
- Databank for grants (in Dutch);
- Grants and Funding (in English).
The City of Antwerp has many partnerships to enable you to set up or monetise your business. We have the strongest growth in start-ups in Belgium, and this is also due to our large network. Below you can find a small selection of supporting and enabling start-up organisations, for a personalised journey, please get in touch with our dedicated start-up team.
As Antwerp sits at a prime location at the heart of Europe, with 65% of European purchasing power within easy access, we have a clear advantage. You can find a great variety of great locations at an excellent price here. To start your search for suitable space and to contact Invest Desk directly, click here.
Access to capital
|Advice about Capital||Major VC’s in the country|
|Antwerp has a strong financial sector. As well as being home to the head offices of important Belgian private, consumer, institutional and business banks (including Argenta, Bank Degroof Petercam, Bank Delen and Bank Van Breda), Antwerp also houses subsidiaries of major multinational banks and other renowned financial institutions like Econopolis and fintech companies such as Winwinner.Funding is easily accessible. Here are some of your possibilities||
Crunchbase lists the biggest Belgian Venture Capital firms, all of which belong to different areas of investment. Know them here.
Discover the different investors and VC’s active in Antwerp through the following overview.
Crowdfunding allows you to get the first part of your required financing online. Below are just a handful of crowdfunding platforms available in Flanders:
For you to know the angel investors in Antwerp, follow this link.BAN Vlaanderen is the Business Angel Network of Flanders. It’s the main starting point if you seek investment from a business angel. It’s a well-known network due to its longstanding reputation in the small market of Flanders.
Suitable for established companies, mezzanine financing is a mix of debt and equity financing. The government of Flanders offers two types of mezzanine financing; one for small enterprises and another for rapid-growth, extremely innovative companies. Your partner here is PMV – they offer different financing options for small and large companies.
|Other Investment Opportunities|
Access to talent
Many of the standard private European and international employment agencies, such as Harvey Nash and Manpower have offices in Antwerp and other cities in Belgium. If you want to open a vacancy for a startup job or an internship, there is a diverse amount of job portals for that purpose: Startus; Belgium Startup Jobs; Imalink; Ictjob. More information about the procedures that need to be followed when posting workers to Belgium is available on the website of the FPS Employment, Labour and Social dialogue. The office provides information about labour law in Belgium and refers them to the authorised departments. Read more about people and talent in Antwerp.
Hot startups & scaleups
Diversity and Inclusion
After Brussels, Antwerp is the second largest city of Belgium. Home to more than half a million inhabitants, with more than 171 nationalities, Antwerp is one the most ethnically diverse areas in the country and keeps promoting inclusion. On this website, you can even find many ongoing projects on diversity that target gender equality, sexism, homophobia and much more. Give it a look!
Antwerp in the Media
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE CITY
Antwerp is known for being a cosmopolitan city with a ‘village atmosphere’. After all, you can discover and appreciate many of the city’s surprising highlights on foot: one of Europe’s oldest zoos, The Antwerp Zoo, the Beach of Saint Anneke, a deep sea port, so many museums, churches and parks. Be free to explore this cradle of fashion and, above, of well-being. Every information on what to see and do can be found here.
ACTIVITIES & CASE STUDIES
One thing is clear: if companies want to innovate, there’s no better breeding ground than Antwerp, where creativity and innovation go hand in hand. Innovation is embedded in the city and this is something that deserves to be captured and celebrated. Digital innovation, circular economy, design services, mobility, education and culture; in Antwerp, innovation is everywhere you look. Discover Antwerp’s many competitive advantages in its wide range of high quality clusters. We highlight some.
For more information on the world of opportunities in Antwerp please visit us here.
- The Beacon is the headquarter for Antwerp’s digital innovation community, bringing together the City of Antwerp, Port of Antwerp, tech companies, research, skills and innovation actors. It’s an innovation hub, focused on AI & IoT, searching solutions in smart city, logistics and industry.
- BlueHealth Innovation Center stimulates entrepreneurship within digital healthcare, a booming business in Antwerp. An example is Byteflies, they developed a technology which allows Covid-19 patients to leave the hospital sooner while they stay under medical supervision.
- BlueChem is an incubator for sustainable chemistry and focuses on use of sidestreams, sustainable materials, CO²-capture. The incubator hosts several highly promising startups which grow rapidly thanks to the presence of the major companies in the chemical cluster.
- StartupVillage is a location in the centre of the city for growing startups and scaleups.
- TAKEOFFANTWERP is a cooperation between the City of Antwerp, the University and several graduate schools to boost student-entrepreneurship.