City of Antwerp opens rear building of StartupVillage

The City of Antwerp wants to bring start-ups together and provide them with every opportunity to grow (internationally). That is why the City decided to renovate a historic building in the Lange Gasthuisstraat 29-31 and make it available for ten years to build and expand StartupVillage. That way, start-ups, large companies, mentors and investors will be able to meet each other in an ideal environment, right in the historic center. The iMinds/imec combo will also play an instrumental role within the initiative.

At the official opening of the rear building of StartupVillage today, the partners in residence have been announced. The renovation of the front building is still in full swing, but by the end of the year, it too will be available for innovative growth companies. In total, StartupVillage will boast 3300 square meters of available surface area. The initiative will form an important hub in the city's policy on digital start-ups and growth companies.

Rear building partners

Ground floor: De Serre

Citycubes, Dieter Veulemans' start-up, will open an innovative business and event lounge on the ground floor. The space will be called ‘De Serre’, a Dutch reference to the greenhouse at the adjacent botanical garden. “The link with the Botanical Garden is not a coincidence, as our lounge will be a breeding ground for new IT applications, relevant to the hospitality industry”, says Veulemans. This makes De Serre the ideal place to host meetings and organize business events in an innovative and dynamic environment. De Serre will open shortly after summer.

First floor: incubator TheCofoundry

The first floor will be occupied by ‘The Cofoundry’, an incubator for growth companies by the Cronos Group. Led by ‘serial entrepreneur’ Wim Bijnens, the incubator will provide intensive support and possibly growth financing to start-ups. They will focus on three central digital growth clusters: eHealth, logistic IT and mobility IT.
  • eHealth will build on the partnerships between BlueHealth Antwerp and Agfa HealthCare, University Hospital Antwerp, Antwerp University, iMinds, Cronos Group and the City of Antwerp. 
  • For its logistics cluster, Cronos is collaborating closely with various port companies and the Flemish Institute for Logistics. “We want to make our knowledge available for those innovative entrepreneurs who will shape the next generation of companies”, says CEO Dirk Deroost.

Second floor: imec/iMinds

On the second floor, newly merged organization imec/iMinds will for the first time settle in Antwerp. In addition to rolling out its own incubation program ‘iStart’, imec/iMinds will also build an Antwerp-based ‘living lab for connected things’. In the coming years, this living lab will become the largest European living lab project for entrepreneurs to directly test their digital technologies in a real-life environment. “Everything will be connected”, explains Luc Van den hove, CEO of imec. “With Antwerp as our base for this ambitious city of things project, imec/iMinds aims to create a dynamic which will put Flanders and this region on the world map as a leader in Internet of Things.”

Growth opportunities and increasing dynamics

Mayor Bart De Wever emphasizes that StartupVillage will offer the digital economy opportunities for growth and increase collaborations between inter-university research, connected living labs, digital start-ups and investors. “A city that doesn't look further than its own borders and fails to seize these digital opportunities will be lost”, explains De Wever. “We can capitalize on growth by creating economies of scale. That is why we want to firmly anchor this dynamic both regionally and internationally. Today, we’re laying the groundwork for developing a Smart Flanders.”

Philip Heylen, Alderman for Economy, indicates that our current thriving business climate is largely determined by market dynamics. “It is our job to drive the dynamics we're seeing among market parties: Start it @kbc, The CoFoundry by Cronos, Kickstart by Telenet, the pioneers of Idealabs, Netwerk Ondernemen, the partners of BlueChem and BlueHealth Antwerp, Login, the DuvalUnion group and of course imec/iMinds. We will act as a partner and offer support. We will bring people together and foster matches.”