© Cadixwijk

A hub for healthcare innovation

With a robust hospital network and leading research institutions, Antwerp is a hub for healthcare innovation. This is further enhanced by the diversity of the city’s population. Antwerp’s extensive urban health facilities, combined with state-of-the art academic research centres such as Vaccinopolis, are all evidence of the city’s strong commitment to health.

Extensive hospital network 

Health has become a vital innovation cluster for Antwerp, drawing on the city’s extensive hospital network of 28 campuses, top research institutions like the renowned Institute for Tropical Medicine (ITM), the University of Antwerp, Vaccinopolis, and our ethnically-diverse population. Antwerp mainly focuses on pandemic preparedness, digital health, urban health, and medical devices. The latest addition is the Cadix ZNA hospital, located close to Park Spoor Noord. Once again, innovation and digital technology are a key focus at this facility. 


Pandemic preparedness & response 

Antwerp has a long-standing tradition of fighting pandemics, with the city’s Institute of Tropical Medicine specialising in the area. Experts in infectious diseases from the University of Antwerp played an important role during the Covid-19 crisis. Professor Pierre Van Damme is a global authority on vaccinology and infectious diseases and was the driving force behind the establishment of the innovative vaccine research centre Vaccinopolis, which is located on the campus of his university. The city’s ecosystem of startups, businesses, public institutions and investors is a major catalyst for innovation in healthcare.  


Located at the University of Antwerp’s Drie Eiken campus, Vaccinopolis is an exemplary, innovative, state-of-the-art, 6,000m2 facility for vaccine trials. As an important part of the research and development ecosystem, Vaccinopolis will contribute to the accelerated evaluation and development of vaccines.   

The Covid-19 pandemic proved beyond any doubt the value of a facility of this type and scale. Vaccinopolis is part of Antwerp’s growing ecosystem for pandemic control, which will enable startups, scale-ups and corporates to engage and collaborate on new products and services for pandemic control. In this facility, critical assessments regarding Controlled Human Infection Model studies are carried out, on top of outpatient vaccine trials. 

Institute of Tropical Medicine

Antwerp’s world-renowned Institute of Tropical Medicine, established as the School for Tropical Medicine in 1906, promotes the advancement of science and health through innovative research, advanced education, professional medical services and capacity-building among partner institutions in the Global South. It has unique expertise in tropical diseases, HIV, tuberculosis, infectious diseases and addressing weaknesses in the world’s healthcare systems. ITM’s research activities are diverse and usually geared towards the discovery of new knowledge to tackle important health challenges. 

There is a particular focus on low-resource settings and vulnerable populations. The Institute is recognised internationally for its medical services and expertise and is uniquely placed to advise national and international health authorities and organisations. Every year, more than 500 professionals continue their education at ITM with short postgraduate expert courses, advanced master’s courses as well as doctoral programmes. 

The city is not large, but the outcome of our work is great

Ann Peters - General Manager ITM

Smart health and entrepreneurship 

Antwerp is a leader in smart health, focusing on integration of digital flows in hospitals and remote healthcare. AI supports medical decision-making, diagnostics, and care planning. Dunden, Antwerp's health hub, is home to 10 digital health startups, providing affordable office space and a network of expertise. The newly-established Antwerp Health Harbour aims to bring the region’s health actors together for data management and collaboration. The Port of Antwerp-Bruges sets the global standard for Good Distribution Practices (GDP) for life sciences and healthcare products, with 63,000 m2 of GDP-compliant warehouses and 9,000 plugs for refrigerated containers. 

Smart health 

What role will technology play in the healthcare of the future? Smart health is one of the fastest growing trends in international healthcare. Antwerp is addressing two major smart health themes in particular: integrating digital flows within hospitals and remote digital healthcare. Artificial Intelligence is also an important technology for smart health, as it supports medical decision-making, diagnostics, care planning and clinical workflows. Patients are also able to track their own health and wellbeing or be monitored remotely by doctors and there is a greater focus on preventive healthcare. 


Dunden is Antwerp’s health hub, currently home to 10 digital health startups. Together with Dunden, we are further expanding the Antwerp health cluster. It is a unique site in the city centre, at the heart of Antwerp’s startup movement. It provides local startups with a 24/7 business environment, affordable office space, and a readily-available network of knowledge and business expertise. The premises provides office space for innovative ‘scale-up’ businesses. On the ground floor, a business and event lounge offers networking events, workshops, a place to eat and an inspiring atmosphere. 

BlueHealth Innovation Center powered by imec.istart is also located here and stimulates innovation and young entrepreneurship in health technology. With the HealthTech pre-acceleration program, BHIC, together with the city of Antwerp, supports potential HealthTech startups in their next steps in 12 weeks, and to connect with the broader HealthTech landscape.


Antwerp Health Harbour 

The newly-established Antwerp Health Harbour is jointly promoting an Antwerp innovative health cluster in which all healthcare actors in the region work together on development. The first project defined is data management. Antwerp Health Harbour is actively aiming for many more active collaborations. 


Good Distribution Practices (GDP) for life sciences and healthcare   

The Port of Antwerp-Bruges is the first seaport in the world to operate across the entire logistics chain in accordance with the EU Guidelines on Good Distribution Practices (GDP), which apply to the handling of life sciences and healthcare products. The Port of Antwerp-Bruges has 63,000 m2 of GDP-compliant warehouses and almost 9,000 plugs and sockets for reefer or refrigerated containers. 


Young population

22,5% are younger than 17 years end 16,3% are older than 65 years

total start-ups/scale-ups

€944M total worth
icon smiley

of the citizens are satisfied with living in Antwerp

and the city scores well above the EU average (89%) in all categories
> €140M

funding in Health - Enterprise Software - Fintech

in 2022

health start-ups

combined enterprise value in 2022

Unique vaccine research center in Europe

with laboratory technicians and the ability to conduct Controlled Human Infection Model Studies
Start-up hub

+63% total investment in start-ups

Antwerp is making city life healthier 

Antwerp is prioritising a healthier city and is exploring a range of developments to improve quality of life, including urban health facilities and an urban health centre. The city is also focusing on more long-term plans and actions with infrastructure projects and ambitious climate plans to become a smart, sustainable city. The Big Link is one of Europe's biggest 21st-century infrastructure projects, connecting neighbourhoods and people with the aim of improving mobility and quality of life in and around Antwerp. The project involves co-creation between experts, policy makers, citizens, and stakeholders. Urban projects such as the New South and the Antwerp Meatpacking District redevelopment are all about building a healthy city. 

Palazzo Verde

Flagship urban projects 

New South 

Palazzo Verde was designed by Stefano Boeri, the world-famous Italian architect known for his ‘vertical forests’: plant- and tree-covered buildings characterised by cascading facades, staggered balconies, and lush vegetation. Other features include clean lines and high-quality finishes. The communal roof gardens and large private outdoor spaces guarantee tranquillity, relaxation, and quality of life. 

Antwerp Meatpacking District 

Since it closed in 2012, Antwerp’s municipal abattoir, a large site in the north of Antwerp called Slachthuis (Dutch for abattoir), sat mainly unused. New plans for its redevelopment mean a gigantic boost for this entire neighbourhood. Antwerp is creating the Groene Poort, a new urban district with housing, services, leisure and business activities. The project is due to be completed by 2040. 

Urban health 

Good health and wellbeing are UN Sustainable Development Goals and Antwerp has prioritised becoming a healthier city. What if a city could make life healthier by itself? Healthcare is much more than just hospital care. Urban health facilities, such as doctor networks, fitness centres, healthy food centres and urban farming, are growing. Many of these are already present in Antwerp and plans for an urban health centre are in the works. Infrastructure projects and ambitious climate plans will result in a future-proof city, with lots of space for greenery, water, recreation, and numerous smart mobility options. 

Discover the city of tomorrow 

The city of Antwerp is diving into the future. Already an attractive place in which to live and work, the city authorities are exploring a broad range of developments to improve quality of life in Antwerp even further. The city is focusing on challenges that require a long-term outlook and actions with more green spaces, robust climate plans, renewed neighbourhoods, and smart mobility solutions. Antwerp has been playing a pioneering role in urban development processes for decades. Now, it is taking giant steps towards becoming a truly smart, sustainable city, while preserving its historic character 

Alexander d'Hooghe

We are creating the city of tomorrow and I believe we are setting an example for the rest of the world

Alexander D'Hooghe - Architect of the Big Link

The Big Link: a mega project for a vibrant city 

One of Europe’s biggest 21st century infrastructure projects is being undertaken in Antwerp. Thanks to the Oosterweel link and significant developments, the Antwerp ring road is coming full circle. Several traffic interchanges around the city will be connected by both normal and open-cut tunnels with the aim of improving mobility and life in and around Antwerp. 

With The Big Link (the name of the project), Antwerp is forging an international reputation as a pioneer in innovative infrastructure projects and creating a vibrant city in which to live, work, play and visit. Through hundreds of workshops and thousands of working sessions, this massive co-creation process, involving experts, policy makers, citizens and stakeholders, ultimately led to 18 new infrastructure projects, clustered into seven ring road parks and a cycling/ walking bridge over the River Scheldt. All tenders for ring road projects have been awarded to contractors, with a total project cost of €4.5 billion. Construction started in 2018, with final completion scheduled for 2030.