Antwerp entrepreneurs show resilience in the coronavirus pandemic

Uniting flexibility stimulates the Antwerp economy

As in other counties, the Belgian and Antwerp economy is struck hard by the consequences of the current pandemic. Still, out of resilience and unity, new alliances and innovations arise which make entrepreneurship in Antwerp thrive. This way, the Antwerp economy counters the market’s fluctuations and offers a rebuttal to the current economic obstacles.

The city of Antwerp stimulates development

At the end of March, the city of Antwerp addressed start-ups specialised in digital applications in a call for innovative solutions to the current crisis. From 130 submissions, the city chose eight companies, to which it jointly gave EUR 250,000. Amongst them: Artists Unlimited, Bingli, Greygin, Health Endeavour and NSX, Helpper, Robovision, Spikes and the Antwerp University Hospital. All these companies are working on digital innovations that will be implemented shortly in the healthcare and music sectors. In addition, the jury picked 18 projects that will receive content-specific support to realise their potential.

Creativity

The creative scene of Antwerp is known for its constant search for innovations and opportunities. A lot of the Antwerp creatives joined forces to produce protective garments. Creatives tegen Corona, with their hub in Haptic House in Antwerp, develops patterns and prototypes for face masks, aprons and coveralls. They even urge companies and individuals to massively start producing clothing with their patterns. Also in Antwerp, workwear manufacturer Van Heurck launched a special batch of surgical and FFP2 face masks. Furthermore, eight Antwerp professionals joined forces as ‘Bescherming voor Helden’. Starting this summer, they aim to locally produce up to 1,5 million sustainable face masks: a real example of viable entrepreneurship. Finally, the product design students of the Antwerp University partner with Novosanis and Voxdale to plan a weekly emergency production of up to 10,000 face masks.

Revolutionary wearables

Byteflies, an Antwerp start-up company, is currently developing an impressive innovation. Together with seven Belgian tech companies, Byteflies works on a medical plaster designed to be attached to the chest of corona patients. Like this, the plaster sends the temperature, breathing information and heart rate data wirelessly to a digital platform, drastically decreasing the workload of the health care professionals. By combining revolutionary types of glue with electrodes, this medical plaster can be worn for up to six days. Byteflies aims to implement this innovative solution by autumn 2020.

Economic protaganists stay operational

Port of Antwerp and the Antwerp diamond sector put in massive efforts to stimulate the economy. From March 30 to April 7, a unique online trade fair was organised for the purchase and sale of diamonds. The Antwerp World Diamond Centre collaborated with the Israel Diamond Industry on the online platform Virtual Diamond Boutique. 50,000 diamonds were displayed by over 46 Antwerp sellers to more than 400 active buyers.

Port worker next to container shipment

And last but not least, the Port of Antwerp also remains fully operational. Thanks to the efforts and the engagement of all its employees, the terminal handling keeps running smoothly. This way, Port of Antwerp guarantees the optimal distribution of pharmaceutical and food products. Port of Antwerp also collaborates with tech company Rombit to counteract the spread of the coronavirus. Its employees will test a new type of bracelet that helps to guarantee social distancing and also traces those who potentially got near an infected person.

Port workers with smart bracelet

Clever solutions are needed in these challenging times. Once again, Antwerp’s entrepreneurs demonstrate their flexibility, collegiality and resilience in many initiatives to help their compatriots and to rekindle the economy in Antwerp and Belgium.

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