City of Antwerp encourages and supports innovation and entrepreneurship
Since April 2020, the City of Antwerp has been launching regular calls to start-ups and SMEs to apply for grants. These are theme-based calls to submit innovation projects in fields or sectors where the city authority is interested to support entrepreneurs.
During past calls, entrepreneurs developed projects addressing challenges such as
- tackling the coronavirus crisis with digital solutions
- smart solutions that have a positive impact on the changing society and economy
- innovations in the digital, circular, creative or health economy
- innovation in the fashion sector
- circular or digital innovations where investment budget is needed.
The city authority already granted 2.7 million euros in financial support to 34 Antwerp-based start-ups and SMEs. These companies received financial support of minimum 20,000 to maximum 150,000 euros to kick-start development of their innovation project. The rolled-out innovation resulted in growth and (inter)national profiling of the companies, which of course reflects on Antwerp as an attractive city for entrepreneurship.
Just some examples of these innovation projects supported by the City of Antwerp in recent years:
Bingly developed a Covid-19 triage module that uses a few simple questions to determine whether or not the patient should see a doctor. For example, the module helps doctors to identify patients who need more medical attention. The multilingualism of the chatbot is very relevant within the population of Antwerp and also appeals to vulnerable target groups.
As raw materials were difficult or impossible to get during the coronavirus crisis, Talenco developed and built its own machine to locally produce the filter material for high-end face masks used in healthcare. Talenco also sells these machines abroad to encourage local production there as well.
Entrepreneurship is a team sport. The city provided the assistance, Talenco made it happen.
Crowdscan uses secure and energy-efficient radio waves to determine the number of attendees at a location in real time while maintaining anonymity. This data is used, for example, as crowd monitoring by security services or for providing a crowd barometer for passengers or potential visitors. After a successful pilot project in the busy metro station at Groenplaats, their product was rolled out internationally.
Reaching an international audience was certainly the intention, but suddenly Hong Kong? We never really thought that would happen.
Mutani, a company that launches fashion in the metaverse, also received a grant. Within this project, six fashion designers design digital model looks that can also be used in the gaming industry. These designs are presented and sold online.
This grant allowed us to launch Mutani as the first digital fashion company in Belgium and one of the first on an international scale. We were given the opportunity to test the limits of our digital co-creation and to both investigate and test whether this could stand up as a business model. That is invaluable to us.
Very recently, D-CRBN received support from the City of Antwerp for a test set-up with the intended result of scaling up high-tech plasma reactors that split and recycle CO2 into valuable products such as chemicals, polymers or e-fuels.
NEW CALL for innovation in #fashion or #design
A new theme-based call is currently open. This call runs until 15 September and focuses on innovative investment projects in fashion or design. The total budget that will be allocated is 400,000 euros. Projects that will receive grants will be announced by the end of October 2022.