Grants, incentives, tax rulings and funding
There’s more to entrepreneurial success than a good geographical location and talented residents. Antwerp's proactive support of entrepreneurship has been instrumental in its economic development. Throughout the centuries, successive city councils have encouraged entrepreneurship.
These days, all relevant government bodies contribute actively to the city’s business-friendly investment climate: the Belgian federal government, Flemish regional government and Antwerp city council. The Flanders Region has created an attractive climate for companies that settle in the region, with a combination of business-friendly policies, innovative knowledge institutes, good infrastructure and a talented labour market.
© Dries Luyten
If you’re interested in investing in the vibrant business landscape of Antwerp, you’ll be pleased to learn that the city offers plenty of opportunities for ambitious entrepreneurs and investors. Let us help you navigate the funding landscape in this dynamic city and its surrounding region.
Flanders boasts a robust financial sector, and Antwerp, as one of its key cities, plays a significant role in this regard. As well as being home to the head offices of important Belgian private, retail, institutional and commercial banks (including Argenta, Bank Degroof Petercam, Bank Delen and Bank Van Breda), the city also houses subsidiaries of major international banks, renowned financial institutions such as Econopolis and fintech companies such as Winwinner. Moreover, Flanders is an affluent region and eager to invest in promising business opportunities. In combination, Flanders and Antwerp offer an environment that is rich in funding options.
Rich array of funding options
There are a range of funding options available in Flanders, including crowdfunding, WIN-WIN loans, bank and non-bank financing, venture capital and mezzanine financing.
Crowdfunding has gained popularity as a means to raise capital through small contributions from a large number of individuals. Flemish crowdfunding platforms provide opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses to showcase projects and attract potential investors.
WIN-WIN loans are specifically designed to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through accessible finance options. These loans offer favourable terms and conditions for both lenders and borrowers, incentivising individuals to invest in local businesses and stimulate economic growth.
Bank and non-bank ﬁnancing
The Flemish financial sector encompasses both traditional banking institutions and non-bank financing options. Traditional banks provide an extensive array of loan products and credit facilities designed to meet businesses’ specific needs, while non-bank financing options such as alternative lenders, private equity firms, and other financial institutions offer innovative financing solutions outside of traditional channels.
Mezzanine financing typically involves a combination of debt and equity, providing a hybrid funding solution. This type of financing bridges the gap between traditional bank loans and equity investments, offering flexible terms and potentially higher returns for investors.
Venture capital is mainly relevant to businesses with an ability to demonstrate clear growth potential. While several forms exist, there are three main types of venture capitalists:
Public venture capitalists
Entrepreneurship is crucial to Flanders’ future. PMV supports this future through the provision of tailored financing solutions to all promising business projects, from their first beginnings, through various growth stages and even once they become internationally active.
Private venture capitalists
Private venture capitalists invest in early-stage companies for equity or an ownership stake. Venture capitalists finance risky startups in the hopes that some of these firms will achieve success. According to Dealroom, Antwerp is home to twelve VCs, but there are many more investors supporting Antwerp startups.
Business Angels Network (BAN) Flanders is one of the leading, go-to organisations for individual investors. It is the result of a fusion of four Flanders-based BANs and has the support of the Flemish government. Generally speaking, BAN Flanders co-ordinates interactions between anonymous informal investors and promising companies. It also provides venture capital to young, starting and growing enterprises outside of the retail, hospitality and project development industries.
© Dries Luyten
Investment support, incentives and grants
Both the Flanders region and the city of Antwerp work to create an attractive climate for companies seeking to settle here through a combination of business-friendly policies, innovative knowledge institutes, good infrastructure and guidance on the talented local and regional labour markets.
In Flanders, grants and incentives play a crucial role in fostering economic growth and innovation. The Flemish government, particularly the Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO), provides support for a wide range of projects through grants and incentives aimed at e.g. strategic transformation, eco-friendly initiatives and research and development (R&D) projects. Within Antwerp’s city limits, Investdesk provides grants and support measures to foster innovation, entrepreneurship, and talent development.
VLAIO serves as the central source of information and support for entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic development in Flanders. Its website provides comprehensive information on the various funding programs and initiatives offered by the Flemish government, enabling businesses and organizations to find suitable grants and incentives to support their projects.
Flanders offers a range of tax incentives aimed at promoting innovation, supporting businesses and attracting investment. These incentives create a favourable tax environment for companies operating in the region. Key tax incentives available in Flanders include Innovation Tax Incentives, which aim to encourage research and development (R&D) activities. Flanders also has implemented reforms in corporate income tax to enhance the competitiveness of businesses. This includes measures such as a gradual reduction of corporate income tax rates, lowering the tax burden for companies operating in the region.
Flanders also offers a National Interest Deduction mechanism that allows companies to deduct a notional interest rate on their equity capital. Potential advantages for companies that establish their headquarters in Flanders include tax benefits, grants, and other forms of support intended to encourage companies to choose the region as their strategic base of operations.
Antwerp provides grants and support measures that aim to foster innovation, entrepreneurship, and talent development within the city. Financial support in the form of grants for innovation projects is designed to encourage businesses to undertake innovative initiatives, such as product development, process optimisation and technological advances.
Antwerp also provides financial support for entrepreneurs seeking coaching and guidance. Professional coaches can provide valuable insights, expertise, and mentorship.
In addition, Antwerp offers financial support for matchmaking events. Such events bring together businesses, investors, and other stakeholders and act as platforms for networking, collaboration and the exploration of potential partnerships. This facilitates connections within the Antwerp business ecosystem. Matchmaking for Business helps companies to connect with relevant partners, suppliers, clients, or investors. Antwerp also offers account management services to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in order to guide and support them in navigating the Antwerp business ecosystem.
Integration with Existing Business Networks and Clubs is aimed at making connections with various associations, events, retail networks, and business clubs such as Voka, Unizo, A12 Business Club, Handel & Industrie Wilrijk, BNI and others. Ecosystem Mapping focuses on identifying and mapping relevant resources, support organisations and innovation hubs in the region.
The city of Antwerp may also provide support measures to assist businesses with the recruitment and integration of international talent into their workforce.
In partnership with VLAIO for subsidies and FIT (Flanders Investment and Trade) for fiscal rulings, the city of Antwerp can offer businesses guidance and advice on available financial support programs and on navigating the complexities of subsidies and incentives.
funding in Health - Enterprise Software - Fintech
rise of foreign investments (total of 1.3BN)
6th business frienliness
9th overall - large cities
Source: fDi Intelligence, European Cities & Regions of the Future 2022/23
© Dries Luyten
Social Security Incentives
Both Belgium and the Flanders region offer social security incentives aimed at supporting new companies and research and development (R&D) staff. These incentives provide benefits and reduce costs related to social security contributions, fostering an environment conducive to entrepreneurship and innovation.
Belgium also provides social security incentives to newly established companies. Startups and entrepreneurs can benefit from reduced social security contributions during the early stages of their operations. Furthermore, to encourage companies to engage in R&D, social security incentives are available to staff involved in R&D projects.
© Dries Luyten
There are many ways in which Flanders oﬀers legal certainty. Residents of Flanders enjoy trade-friendly customs legislation, extensive business and intellectual property protection, clear environmental regulations and clear business legislation. To ﬁnd out more about legal certainty in Flanders and thus in Antwerp, visit this website: