Antwerp positions itself as a digital frontrunner

The City of Antwerp is increasingly carving out a niche for itself on the digital landscape. Antwerp will have a physical innovation hub for the IoT (Internet of Things) ecosystem in the city, called ‘The Beacon’. Digitally-focused conventions feel equally at home in the city. On 6 June, the city hosted the largest IoT trade show of the Benelux in the Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp (FMCCA), thus underlining its ambition to become an international leader in the field of IoT. Find out more about the City of Antwerp’s ambitious projects.

IoT in Antwerp

In June 2017, the city launched its Capital of Things partnership, together with the Antwerp Port Authority, the University of Antwerp and the imec research centre. In so doing, the four partners expressed their commitment to position the city and the port as an international hub for IoT activities.

The Beacon IoT hub

The Beacon is being developed in Tolhuis, which sits on the boundary of the city and the port. This business and innovation hub for IoT powerhouses is set to open in September and will be a place where start-ups, scale-ups and tech corporates can meet to create IoT developments for industry, logistics and the smart city. The city continues to develop its IoT ecosystem, and The Beacon is just one link in a longer chain. A real IoT community, where small and large companies, start-ups and scale-ups, researchers and capital providers can find each other. In The Beacon, the partners behind the Capital of Things (the City of Antwerp, the Port of Antwerp, the University of Antwerp and imec) offer the advice and access to a huge network of customers, in industry and logistics, who are ready for innovation and renewal.

On 30 May, the city presented The Beacon during a business event, gathering 150 members of the IoT community, who came to see what opportunities The Beacon has to offer. Since then, 10 leading companies have already reserved office space in the IoT hub after the first open call.

IoT on the agenda

The convention calendar also indicates that Antwerp is the perfect breeding ground for IoT and digital innovation. In addition to the imec Technology Forum, major events such as ‘The 5th Conference on Digital Health’ and the SuperNova digital festival are all being organised in the city. On 6 June, Antwerp also hosted the third Internet of Things Convention. This B2B conference is the largest in the BeNeLux countries, attracting over 1,000 (inter)national players from the world of IoT. The organiser Peter Buelens explains why Antwerp was such a natural choice as a host city: “A few years ago, nobody had heard of the ‘smart cities’ concept. As the largest city of Flanders, Antwerp has played a pioneering role by capitalising on this opportunity.” Peter Buelens referred to a series of recent initiatives, under which Antwerp is investing heavily in IoT, such as The Beacon and the Capital of Things cooperation agreement.

Antwerp is a booming hub for digital innovation. The city was invited at SXSW (South by Southwest), a prestigious conference about music, film and technology in March 2019 to present the role of Antwerp as startup city.
The Antwerp start-up Playpass recently announced its first acquisition in France. Playpass is set to acquire Yuflow, a fellow industry member in contactless event payments. In Antwerp, Playpass was able to firmly anchor its business in StartupVillage, an initiative of the City of Antwerp where start-ups receive and seize all available opportunities.
The Beacon, the international business and innovation hub for companies working in Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence opened its doors in Antwerp at the end of 2018. Since then, 27 companies have taken up residence in The Beacon. And the number is still growing. The companies Anyways and Future Marketing Agency will soon open their offices in the most innovative hub in the city.