Together with Catalisti, the spearhead cluster for innovation in chemistry and plastics, VITO will be active in BlueChem to detect and support promising innovations.

Arpadis, Creaflow and InOpSys. These are the first start-ups and growth companies to move into BlueChem, the chemistry incubator that will open its doors at the end of April 2020 on the climate-neutral business park Blue Gate Antwerp. The City of Antwerp supports young entrepreneurs with the BlueChem Kickstart Fund, which offers hem financial support in setting up their laboratories. Chemical companies BASF, Borealis and INEOS are also renting office space in BlueChem to support promising innovations and to help them grow. The chemistry incubator will also be the operating base for employees of Catalisti, the spearhead cluster for innovation in chemistry and plastics, and research organisation VITO. The leases were signed today, four and a half months before the official opening.

BlueChem is the first incubator in Flanders that specifically focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship in sustainable chemistry. On 28 April 2020, BlueChem officially opens its doors on the Blue Gate Antwerp eco-business park, but today the first five tenants – Arpadis, Catalisti, Creaflow, InOpSys and VITO – and three partner companies – BASF, Borealis and INEOS – have already been announced. This means that the target for the first year of operation, an occupancy rate of 20 %, has almost been reached four and a half months before the opening. In total, BlueChem has room for about twenty companies, depending on the office and laboratory space they all need.

The City of Antwerp today also launched the BlueChem Kickstart Fund. This is an investment fund that gives young and starting companies that establish themselves in BlueChem, a financial boost, up to 700 euros/m², in the design of their laboratories. It often involves very specific and expensive equipment for chemistry research. Earlier this year, cooperation agreements were concluded with strategic partners BNP Paribas Fortis, Deloitte, Laga and Port of Antwerp. They will provide expert advice to start-ups and growth companies in BlueChem and help them to grow with tailor-made services.

Ecosystem for sustainable chemistry

Not only does BlueChem provide the perfect accommodation for start-ups, the sustainable chemistry incubator also aims to build an ecosystem that stimulates innovation projects between large companies, SMEs and start-ups on the one hand, and between the private secotr, the government and academia on the other.

That is why it is important that Catalisti, the spearhead cluster for innovation in chemistry and plastics, and VITO, will also be active in BlueChem to detect and support promising innovations. Partner companies such as BASF, Borealis and INEOS keep their finger on the pulse of innovations in sustainable chemistry with their presence in BlueChem and can be a lever to help breakthrough technologies grow into applications on an industrial scale. In this way, BlueChem strengthens the innovative power of the chemical cluster in the port of Antwerp and in the rest of Flanders.

BlueChem is a unique collaboration between government, industry and knowledge centres with the ambition to help promising innovations of start-ups and young companies active in sustainable chemistry grow to an industrial scale in order to strengthen the economically important chemistry sector in Flanders. Project partners in BlueChem NV are essenscia, POM Antwerp, City of Antwerp and VITO. The incubator is built according to the principles of BREEAM-Excellent, a sustainable label for buildings with a minimal environmental impact, and complies with the BEN (nearly energy neutral) standard. BlueChem will open at Blue Gate Antwerp in April 2020 and has 15 labs, 24 offices, 20 flexible spaces and several meeting rooms spread over four floors.

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