Antwerp’s efforts in investing in an extensive and robust ecosystem for start-ups pay off. The city is now one of the largest start-up hubs in the country. Discover the numbers and the story behind them in this article.


Strong figures

The number of Antwerp start-ups has increased by 127% since 2017, resulting in 718 companies. These businesses represent a value of 2,5 billion euros. They raised 161 million in capital, a threefold increase over 2017. Thanks to large financing rounds of start-ups like Verily, Rombit and Nobi. 

Favourable business climate

What are the reasons for this success? In Antwerp, there’s a favourable business climate. The City of Antwerp offers a wide range of start-up solutions: projects, calls for innovation and specific support. In addition, there’s a high-performance ecosystem in Antwerp, including trajectories, innovation hubs and (pre-)incubators. Combine that with the enormous drive of Antwerp’s entrepreneurs and their employees, and you have all the ingredients of Antwerp’s success story.

Health and sustainability

Quite remarkable is that health, Antwerp’s latest innovation cluster, raised the most funding (106 million euros). This can be linked to the fight against pandemics via Vaccinopolis and the digital health incubator BlueHealth Innovation Center. Another curious fact: 33% of all so-called impact start-ups in Flanders are located in Antwerp. Impact start-ups are committed to reaching sustainable development goals. In Antwerp, 18 sustainable start-ups represent a value of 170 million euros.

The City of Antwerp collected this data through Dealroom, a data and software platform with worldwide information on start-ups, innovation and venture capital investment.

Rise in international rankings

As a leading Belgian city, Antwerp is clearly on the rise in several international rankings. According to fDi magazine, Antwerp is Europe’s sixth most business-friendly medium-sized city. And in Arcadis Sustainability Cities Index, Antwerp reaches the 27th spot, and that’s better than cities like Singapore, Geneva and Barcelona. Finally, research conducted by Reebok shows that Antwerp is Europe’s second-best city for sustainable fashion.  

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