City of Antwerp as hotspot for innovation in health

Worldwide we are facing similar problems: an increasing and ageing population, with more chronic patients. This increase puts pressure on the affordability of healthcare. Chronic diseases are responsible for 77% of the death rate in the European Union and they cover up to 80% of the health budget. As 80% of chronic diseases are linked to our behaviour, prevention is more important than ever. The care becomes more personalized, mobile and interactive. Care at a distance and self-monitoring of diseases are therefore booming businesses.

The city of Antwerp is an atypical one. It has been the breeding ground for world famous researchers such as Peter Piot en Christine Van Broeckhoven. With its 174 nationalities, a wide range of (tropical) diseases occurs. The Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp is one of the most important institutions in the world for education, research and services in the tropical medicine and healthcare in developing countries. The city has more than 4,000 hospital beds across different high quality hospitals that are increasingly working together and specialising. The Antwerp infrastructure of assisted living units, care centres and nursing homes is also constantly expanding. Moreover Antwerp becomes a testbed for IoT applications.

If we want to continue to have affordable and qualitative healthcare, we need to focus on innovation, sustainability and technology.

City of Antwerp stimulates innovative entrepreneurship

Antwerp is centrally located in Europe, close to cities as Paris, London and Amsterdam, and is a real
hotspot for startups and growth companies. The city has already more than 400 startups, dozens of growth companies, many incubators, accelerators and other startup initiatives. The city supports such private initiatives and provides matchmaking. This dense ecosystem of investors, startups, corporates and research institutes makes Antwerp open for business.

eHealth is booming in Antwerp

Thanks to its vibrant ecosystem, the city of Antwerp was the frontrunner in launching the ehealth incubator BlueHealth Innovation Center, powered by Microsoft Innovation Center. This incubator will foster and guide any valuable idea to new companies in health technology. The distinctive character of BlueHealth Innovation Center is the unique collaboration between companies (such as Agfa Healthcare and UCB), research institutes (imec and the University of Antwerp), hospitals (UZA) and government (city of Antwerp). This gives the participating startups access to a wide range of knowledge, technology, networks and finance. The startups can work from StartupVillage, the flagship buiding of digital innovation in the historical centre Antwerp. Finally, thanks to the membership of HealthTech Belgium, every valuable contact is a phone call away. This will fasten the speed of innovation and puts Belgium on the map as testbed for healthtech.

Antwerp acts as a living laboratory for innovative digital and technological applications, products and services.
Innovate Antwerp, published by The Global Village, is part of a publication series on worldwide innovative ecosystems. Antwerp is the first region in the European Union that is featured in the series. In the book, readers discover a wide range of initiatives, companies and people that focus on innovation.
The city of Antwerp is calling for innovative, digital concepts that will upgrade the Groenplaats and strongly promote Antwerp as a smart city.