© Seafar

Wide open gates for tech innovation

The Port of Antwerp-Bruges is well on its way to transforming into the smart port of the future by embracing rapid advances. It has opened itself up to public and private partners as an innovation platform to collaborate and shape the future. Learn more about how to participate in this exciting process. 

Smart port, technologies & logistics 

Looking for opportunities for your maritime, industrial or logistical company to innovate, digitalise and develop new technologies? The Port of Antwerp-Bruges is an ideal testing ground.  

Port with a digital twin 

Perhaps you are familiar with the concept of digital twins in construction, but have you ever considered the transformative potential for an entire port? Imagine a digital replica built on real-time information that encompasses every aspect of the port area. With precise monitoring of moorings and swift incident detection, the port can ensure a safe, seamless flow of maritime traffic. A digital twin for the Port of Antwerp-Bruges revolutionises the maritime landscape by offering a comprehensive overview of port activities and empowering its workers. 

Antwerp Port Information and Control System 

Digital platforms are key elements of a smart port, facilitating real-time awareness of shipping activities and progress. The Antwerp Port Information and Control System (APICS) handles monitoring of shipping traffic, tug operations, lock planning and real-time berth management and dangerous goods registrations. A wealth of data is accessible to all port users, empowering them to make informed decisions. Moreover, APICS can be integrated with various other applications. 

Drones 

The Port of Antwerp-Bruges leads the way in the use of drones. The port has turned itself into a drone operator, developing a ‘Drones as a Service’ network with 18 flights a day and a live streaming (5G) connection. Drones are used to inspect infrastructure, but also for surveillance and monitoring, berth management and oil spill and floating waste detection. In addition, they support security partners in case of incidents and fires, contributing to the port’s overall security measures. 

5G network 

5G is a vital component of the port’s digital infrastructure, as this allows for smooth real-time transmission and processing of data and images captured by drones and cameras. A range of pilot projects are currently underway that focus on enhanced coordination and safety on the water through real-time video streaming between tugs. In collaboration with the City of Antwerp and the city’s police and fire services, efforts are also being made to set up a dedicated private 5G network and elevate the speed, reliability, and security of  these services digital applications to new levels of efficiency and effectiveness. 

Smart sensors 

To optimise the port's operations and enhance its intelligence, a diverse array of sensors are used in remote control applications. They play a crucial role in monitoring water quality in the docks and help to extend the paving’s lifespan. 3D sonar sensors allow for unmanned navigation, while iNoses diligently detect and identify harmful gases. The use of sensor technology creates a smarter, more efficient port environment. 

Smart cameras 

A comprehensive network of over 460 intelligent cameras diligently monitors the Antwerp section of the unified port, relying on advanced computer vision technology for object recognition. These cameras hugely simplify maintenance and inspection processes for bridges, locks, and quay walls. Furthermore, they can measure cargo traffic accurately and enhance overall security within the port. 

Digital innovations in logistics chain 

A seamless exchange of information between all stakeholders is crucial in logistics. NxtPort, a subsidiary of Port of Antwerp-Bruges, plays a pivotal role in facilitating this process and making data sharing easier and more transparent. NxtPort provides all players in the logistics chain with access to accurate information, as and precisely when they need it. A Bulkchain application streamlines administrative processes for the break bulk industry, ensuring faster and smoother operations. Certified Pick up offers a digital, secure and integrated solution for efficient container release. These innovations empower stakeholders in the logistics chain, optimising their workflows and contributing to the overall efficiency of port operations. 

Intelligent transportation 

The future is here. Autonomous, unmanned vessels in the Antwerp port area are improving the overall efficiency and sustainability of goods transportation. 

Autonomous inland navigation vessels 

The Port of Antwerp-Bruges stands at the forefront of autonomous vessel development. For shipping traffic, adoption of remotely controlled inland vessels or small autonomous boats promises to greatly improving mobility within the port. Automated shipping is the future of inland navigation, as it creates substantial cost reductions and offers a viable solution to worsening mobility issues. Technology developed by Seafar has already been implemented for estuary container ship ‘Deseo’, enabling this ship to navigate semi-autonomously between Zeebrugge and Antwerp. 

Echodrone: amazing technology 

Echodrone is an autonomous sounding vessel that can take depth measurements to guarantee secure passages for shipping. It is equipped with state-of-the-art measuring equipment, including sonar radar, and can navigate through a range of atmospheric conditions.  

Thanks to our system, the barges can navigate semi-autonomously.

Louis-Robert Cool - CEO Seafar

Industrial innovation hubs and ecosystems 

Feeling inspired? Interested in using the port as a testing ground for your own ideas and projects? The Port of Antwerp-Bruges is an open research and development platform. By bringing people and ideas together, we can shape the port of the future. Together with startups, scale-ups, accelerators, investment funds, government and knowledge institutions, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges is building a strong ecosystem to support and accelerate innovation in a genuine industrial environment. Discover the various innovation hubs. 

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The Beacon 

The Beacon is more than just a building with a stunning view of the Scheldt River. This is a vibrant community of over 100 companies and research institutions dedicated to creating groundbreaking digital solutions for ports, cities, and industries. Joining forces with the Beacon gains you access to a collaborative ecosystem that is a fertile breeding ground for cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, wireless connectivity and data application technologies. Imagine the opportunities created by connecting with multinational IT corporates, local start-ups, and high-potential digital companies, all under one roof. Become part of this extraordinary community to unlock a world of possibilities and harness the power of collective knowledge, resources and expertise. 

+30%

total start-ups/scale-ups

€944M total worth
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innovation leaders

after Sweden, Finland, Denmark and The Netherlands
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for innovation linkages

SME's in Flanders have great in-house innovation capacities and excel in setting up effective joint projects.
Source: 2022 European Innovation Scoreboard
3rd best

innovative system in the world

Source: 2020 ZEW Innovation indikator
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+63% total investment in start-ups

MCA office

Maritime Campus Antwerp 

Another ecosystem is Maritime Campus Antwerp (MCA), an initiative by Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB). With the aim of encouraging collaboration and innovation, it hosts diverse organisations, from large companies to startups, educational and research institutions. MCA offers access to facilities such as coworking, project and R&D spaces, labs and studios.  

Plug & Play 

Together with the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, City of Antwerp, Euronav and DxC technology, CMB and MCA have succeeded in convincing American accelerator Plug & Play to launch a Maritime Innovation Platform in Antwerp. With headquarters in Silicon Valley, Plug & Play attracts startups and scale-ups from all over the world to Antwerp. All stakeholders work together to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for their companies, Antwerp and the Port of Antwerp-Bruges.  

Port & City 

Last but not least, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges and the City of Antwerp are united in their drive for innovation. Recently, they have further reinforced their long-standing relationship, intensifying their collaboration. Together, they focus on digital and circular innovation. Both are involved in The Beacon and Plug&Play, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges is also a strategic partner of incubator BlueChem and they exchange commercial leads between NextGen District and Blue Gate Antwerp.  

Looking for opportunities to innovate, digitalise and develop new technologies in the port of the future? All the necessary elements are present at The Port of Antwerp-Bruges.