European testing ground

Antwerp, a region like no other

2 minutes reading time

Antwerp, a region like no other. A combination of many qualities ensures that Antwerp occupies a unique position in the world, which appeals to companies at home and abroad. Because of its central location in Europe and its easy accessibility, Antwerp is far more than just a detour. The port also boasts good connections with the hinterland via pipelines, waterways, tracks and roads. Draw a 500-kilometre circle around Antwerp and you will find 60% of Europe’s total purchasing power.

The city itself is also very diverse, even cosmopolitan. If you have walked the Statiestraat at the Berchem Station, you already know: people from all over the world live here—in fact, 173 different nationalities are represented. Different neighbourhoods, each with its own character, are located within walking and cycling distance of each other. And those neighbourhoods have everything: industry, campuses, culture, hospitality and shopping. Antwerp is also known for its high quality of life. Perceived security is high and—certainly not unimportant—real estate is reasonably affordable compared to nearby European cities.

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All of that makes Antwerp the ideal test lab. Many films are launched in Antwerp to gauge their popularity in the rest of Belgium. Companies at home and abroad do their first market tests here, and experiment with new business models. The multitude of things being launched is staggering. Antwerp enjoys local farmers’ markets such as MARTA, Smartmat cookers, the Bolides and Poppy car-sharing concepts, the Scooty electric scooter department, food sharing apps such as Too Good To Go and circular companies such as jeans brand HNST and packaging-free store Robuust.

Antwerp was one of the first European cities in which the Finnish company MaaS (Mobility as a service), in conjunction with Friendship, launched the Whim mobility app. The app lets you organize your train, tram or taxi itinerary at the touch of a button - maybe even reserve a shared car.

Creative experts almost always play a role in these initiatives. For instance, they themselves participate in the services or products, or they are the first users. The extras of a superdiverse, creative region at the human level.

“I think Antwerp is an exciting city - large enough to take its place alongside other world cities, and yet small enough to really make it happen, to stay in motion, to be a bit rebellious. Trends begin here, something new is always in the works and pioneering ideas are born. It can certainly be said that we are unique.”
Isabel Van den Broeck, director of Creative Belgium