About the city

Antwerp, an atypical city that innovates at the speed of life

Antwerp is Belgium’s second city, an atypical metropolis in the heart of Europe. Despite its relatively humble proportions, it boasts the world’s biggest diamond trade hub and the second biggest port in Europe housing the continent’s largest integrated oil and chemical cluster. The city is also a true retail paradise with elegant pieces from large fashion houses, trendy boutiques, independent stores, and ground-breaking concept stores within strolling distance of each other.

Antwerp’s vast offering of cultural, professional and culinary delights is enhanced by more than 170 nationalities. Antwerp embraces heritage and innovation, business and leisure, global ambitions and a genuine concern for nurturing a highly enjoyable quality of life for its temporary and permanent residents.

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Dedication to innovation

When it comes to international corporate networks and innovation capacity, Antwerp ranks number 188 of 500 cities worldwide in the Innovation Cities Index 2018, that measures the potential of innovation performance. In the latest Startup Genome report Antwerp is being described as an “early globalization ecosystem”. In “Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)” Antwerp is the leading Belgian hotspot and becoming a European reference. In the business and innovation hub The Beacon, the city is collaborating with the University of Antwerp, the Port of Antwerp, imec (the world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies), and the technology federation Agoria. The Beacon specialises in IoT/AI in industry, port logistics and smart city. With the help of The Beacon, the Port of Antwerp is developing a smart port to at least maintain a major position in the global competitive environment of ports.

It is the unique combination of a growing/vibrant ecosystem for digital innovation and the collaboration with strong economic clusters open to innovation that makes Antwerp a highly attractive city for startups.


Sustainable industry and living

Antwerp’s dedication to sustainable innovation is just as tangible in business and industry as it is in the development of ecologically sound living areas. Recent projects include “Blue Gate Antwerp”, a sustainable and innovative business park, “BlueChem”, a world-leading incubator for sustainable chemistry and Belgium’s largest private heating network in the “New South” residential area.

“New South” is a great example of how previously neglected locations are (literally) being made to flourish thanks to careful planning and forward-thinking commissioning. Aside from its stand-out architectural aesthetics, this publicly commissioned private project owes its status of ‘new place to be/work/play/ live’ to having the largest garden in the city and the largest private heating network in the land.

A Harbour for creativity

There’s much more to Antwerp’s cultural inventory than Rubens masterpieces, museums and architecture. The Antwerp design sector delivers more big names to the forefront each year via the renowned Product Development course, designed by the University of Antwerp. The Antwerp fashion scene is revered just as much as the ones in Paris and New York and the city’s diamond trade has created its own, truly unique tradition of jewellery design. This melting pot of creativity infuses the city streets with a bubbling atmosphere and a lust for life. The one art all Antwerpians have mastered is the art of living.

Cool fact: The Antwerp creative economy is more vibrant than ever, spanning almost 9,000 businesses and accounting for 20,000 jobs. In fact, one in six Antwerp businesses are part of the creative industry.

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Moving Antwerp