BlueChem presents: Allegro

BlueChem presents: Arthrosis is a dormant disease of the joints that affects millions of people. Because the current treatment methods are expensive, risky and highly inefficient, Allegro creates a regenerative therapy for cartilage injuries. Using a 3D printer, the start-up develops nanomaterials that cause cells to grow back at the site of the trauma and the tissue to bind back to its original state.

BlueChem presents: PUXANO

BlueChem presents: Proteins are key elements in therapeutics, diagnostics and food processing. PUXANO uses innovative nano and biotechnology to streamline the full process of structural biology. Within BlueChem, the start-up does protien purification, protein characterization and protein structure determination, with the aim to contribute to more efficient and more sustainable developments and production processes.

BlueChem presents: D-CRBN

BlueChem presents: global warming is one of the toughest environmental challenges our society has ever faced. D-CRBN, a spin-off company of the University of Antwerp, knows that there's a need for change and therefore created a plasmareactor to split CO2-molecules. With the help of plasma, D-CRBN can split the CO2 and convert it into its original building blocks. Those building blocks can later be used to create value added products, such as bio fuels, polymers and chemicals, to achieve a circular economy.


BlueChem presents: A-Maze

BlueChem presents: finding the perfect match between candidates and clients. That's what recruitment agency A-Maze is all about. Whether a company focuses on energy transition or wants to facilitate a circular economy, the start-up looks for the right talent for the right job. With its existing network, the latest HR technology and BlueChem as its base camp, A-Maze can be the ideal matchmaker.


NextGen District

Triple Helix to be pilot plant at NextGen District in Antwerp port with Sure PUre

With its project Sure PUre, our tenant Triple Helix will be one of the first factories to get a place on NextGen District, the former General Motors site in the Antwerp port area. The Antwerp Port Authority announced this last week when launching the names of the first candidates to set up shop in NextGen District.

NextGen District is no less than 88 hectares in size and is intended to become a hotspot for pioneers in circular economy. The site will give "end-of-life products" a second or third life, explore circular carbon solutions and conduct experiments with renewable energy.

Triple Helix's Sure PUre project will plant a recycling plant at NextGen District for polyurethane foam and PET shells, which will be converted into polyols.

You can find more information about the first candidates of NextGen District here.
More information about Triple Helix can be found here.

Passed - Online event: Deloitte's Beers & Burgers - 9 June @ 5 pm

This event has already passed.

Deloitte, strategic partner of BlueChem, invites you to the virtual event 'Beers & Burgers for fast-growing companies' on Wednesday June 9 at 5 pm. You get the opportunity to network and to explore the confidence of start- and scale-ups, with stories of some movers and shakers.

During this online event, you will get more insights in how these unusual times are affecting entrepreneurs presenting Deloitte's findings of its latest survey.

Jelle Van Roosbroeck, CFOand founder of Kadonation will share insights into the successful gift supplier. Bram Van de velde, founder of Leadcamp, Jeroen Dille, founder of DEO, and Mathieu de Lophem, founder of Skipr, will discuss the ins and outs of being a start- and scale-up, providing useful tips. Dieter Blondeel and Isabelle Tennstedt from PMV will provide all the information you need about "Welvaartfonds".

For the full program and registration, click here.

Biotech company PUXANO moves into BlueChem

May is an interesting month for BlueChem this year. Not only do we celebrate our first birthday, we can also welcome our newest tenant. Meet nano-driven biotech company PUXANO, founded in the spring of 2021 and ready to start in BlueChem.


PUXANO is an expert consultancy that aims to accelerate protein research in all fields and industries by using a combination of nano- and bio technology. The team exists of Wouter, Sam, Marie-Aline and Thomas, four young structural biologists and nano technologists. They are driven to develop sustainable solutions for customers that are active within the field of drug development, enzymatic processing and diagnostics.

In their lab in BlueChem, the start-up focuses on all chemical and biochemical steps: quality control, purification, binding analysis and structure determination. In that way, proprietary technology can accelerate the development of new drugs and make production processes more efficient and sustainable.

In addition to their lab at Bluechem, PUXANO also works within core facilities for nanotechnology and electron microscopy at Ghent University and UAntwerpen.

Want to know more about PUXANO?

Barbara Veranneman

Barbara Veranneman takes Frank Beckx's place as chairperson of chemistry incubator BlueChem

Barbara Veranneman of essenscia, the sector federation for chemistry and life sciences, has been elected chairwoman of the Board of Directors of BlueChem NV, the incubator for sustainable chemistry in Antwerp. She succeeds Frank Beckx, who recently joined the employers' federation Voka. Ann Verlinden, who became general manager of Catalisti, the spearhead cluster for innovation in chemistry and plastics, has also been appointed to the Board of Directors. Together with manager Leentje Croes, three women are helping to define the strategic lines of BlueChem, a chemical incubator.

Frank Beckx has chaired BlueChem since its inception in his role as managing director of essenscia vlaanderen. Now that he has recently transferred to Voka, as director of the knowledge and lobby center of the Flemish Business Network, he is passing on the torch to 36-year-old Barbara Veranneman. She is Director of International Affairs and Legal Advisor at essenscia, the sector federation of chemistry and life sciences that is also the main shareholder in BlueChem.

Barbara Veranneman holds a master's degree in law from KU Leuven and the University of Sidney, with a specialization in international and European environmental and energy law. She also completed a management course at the international business school INSEAD in France. She started her career as a lawyer at the firm Loyens & Loeff and has been with essenscia since 2011.

In addition to her extensive legal expertise, Barbara Veranneman also specialises in everything to do with foreign trade and international trade agreements. In terms of innovation, through her involvement in the essenscia Patent Unit, she is familiar with the protection of intellectual property and the specific innovation needs of start-ups and scale-ups. Together with manager Leentje Croes (33), she forms a strong female tandem for the daily management of the incubator.

"I want to fully commit to developing BlueChem's innovation potential to the maximum and to play it off as an international asset."

Barbara Veranneman, president BlueChem NV

Barbara Veranneman, Chairman of BlueChem NV: "One year after its opening, BlueChem is already firmly established at home and abroad as the place to be for innovations in sustainable chemistry. It is thanks to my predecessor Frank Beckx that this incubator got off to a flying start, convinced that more innovative power in chemistry will result in more sustainability in our economy and society. I want to dedicate myself fully to continuing to work on this basis, together with partners from the very beginning POM Antwerp, city of Antwerp, VITO and Catalisti and in collaboration with chemical companies Air Liquide, BASF, Borealis, ExxonMobil, INEOS and Vopak who have been committed from the start to developing BlueChem's innovation potential to the maximum and playing it as an international trump card."

"Together with Barbara and the full Board of Directors, we are going for even more start-ups, more successful innovations and more international exposure."

Leentje Croes, manager BlueChem NV

Leentje Croes, manager BlueChem NV: "I would like to thank Frank Beckx for the trust and inspiring cooperation during the past years. Together with Barbara and the entire Board of Directors we are now going for more start-ups, more successful innovations and more international exposure. With the explicit ambition to help make a difference from BlueChem for the climate and the transition to a circular economy by launching breakthrough technologies, introducing more efficient production processes and commercializing sustainable products."

The labs and offices in the BlueChem incubator are already more than half occupied. Ten promising start-ups are working there on the chemistry and circular economy of the future. This ranges from the recovery of valuable metals from industrial wastewater to the conversion of captured CO2 into a valuable raw material and the development of new reactors and technologies for chemical processes with a lower ecological footprint. Better recycling techniques for plastics and new protein applications or meat alternatives for more sustainable food production are also high on the innovation agenda.

Today, BlueChem's Board of Directors also welcomed Ann Verlinden as a new director. She succeeds Jan Van Havenbergh, her predecessor as general manager of Catalisti. Ann Verlinden is a civil engineer in chemistry with a specialization in environmental technology from the KU Leuven. She obtained her PhD at the University of Leeds-Bradford, where she focused on powder technology, and previously worked for companies including ExxonMobil Chemical and BASF Antwerp, two partner companies in BlueChem.

Jan Van Havenbergh remains active in BlueChem as manager of the Moonshot innovation program for a climate-friendly industry, which is supported by the Flemish government.

"The cross-pollination between start-ups and international companies, between academic knowledge and industrial expertise is what makes BlueChem unique and effective."

Ann Verlinden, Managing Director Catalisti

Ann Verlinden, Managing Director Catalisti: "There is no better home base than BlueChem imaginable for organizations engaged in sustainable chemistry innovations. From here, together with universities, research centers and numerous companies, we are writing a great story for the chemical sector to take the lead in the climate transition. The cross-pollination between start-ups and international companies, between academic knowledge and industrial expertise is what makes BlueChem unique and effective."

BlueChem 1 jaar

1 year of BlueChem: more than 100 jobs, 18 companies and numerous innovations for the chemistry of the future

Antwerp, 4 May 2021 – 108 jobs, 18 innovative start-ups and businesses, the home for coordinating the Moonshot innovation programme for a climate-friendly industry and multiple specific projects for applying breakthrough technologies in industrial pilot installations. One year after opening, BlueChem, the first incubator for sustainable chemistry in Belgium, has generated impressive figures and made significant achievements. The available lab and office space is already half-filled, conversations with new start-ups are currently underway and the initiative is also gaining greater international resonance.

Providing optimum support for start-ups, and scale-up so that they can successfully develop their promising chemistry innovations and expand them to an industrial scale - that is the mission of BlueChem, the incubator for sustainable chemistry situated in the Blue Gate Antwerp ecological business zone. Even though it was opened in the middle of the coronavirus crisis, the first year seems to have run relatively smoothly. With 18 tenants - 10 start-ups, 6 partner businesses, and innovation partners Catalisti and VITO - the occupancy level has exceeded expectations.

CO2 as a raw material and efficient proteins

Two new start-ups joined in March. A-Maze, a recruitment agency that is dedicated to the port industry and that focuses on attracting employees with the right skills for the energy and climate transition and the circular economy, and D-CRBN, a spin-off from the University of Antwerp, which is working on an industrial process that uses plasma technology to convert captured CO2 into a raw material for the chemical sector.

The most recent acquisition, since 1 May, is PUXANO. This young company uses innovative nano- and biotechnology to improve and accelerate protein research. The patented technology can also be applied to the development of medicines, the use of antibodies or as a catalyst for making various production processes more efficient and sustainable.

Taking water purification and plastic recycling to a higher level

The innovative prowess of BlueChem has now been put on the map both at home and abroad. Inopsys, which purifies waste water from chemical and pharmaceutical companies and recuperates valuable metals such as zinc and palladium, realised capital growth of around EUR 5 million for international expansion. Peace of Meat, a pioneer in cultivated meat, was taken over by Israeli company MeaTech 3D and is working from BlueChem on further commercialisation. Triple Helix has specific plans to build a recycling facility of the latest generation in the port of Antwerp in order to recycle polyurethane (PU) from used mattresses or car seats into insulation material and, in the long term, to make the use of polyurethane entirely circular.

The trail-blazing technologies from Calidris Bio (nutritious proteins for producing animal food on the basis of renewable energy and captured CO2) and Creaflow (photochemistry with revolutionary flow reactors that ensure lower energy and raw material consumption in chemical and pharmaceutical production) are also generating increasing interest. IBEVE installed a unique scanning electron microscope in BlueChem for accurate analysis of asbestos fibres and other dust particles, and Arpadis is working in the incubator on climate-friendly alternatives for raw materials from paints, adhesives and insulation.

Unique ecosystem for sustainable chemistry

All these innovations, the close collaboration with universities and research centres, and the strong connection with partner companies Air Liquide, BASF, Borealis, ExxonMobil, INEOS and Vopak make BlueChem a European hotspot for sustainable chemistry. This has not gone unnoticed by The Financial Times. It awarded the city of Antwerp the FDI Strategy Award ‘Specialism Chemicals’ and specifically referred to BlueChem as a particular asset. The jury report said: ‘Thanks to the strong partnership between the academic world, the government and the business world, a unique ecosystem in sustainable chemistry has been created in Antwerp.'

Over the past year, BlueChem has welcomed SGS Belgium as its sixth strategic partner, following BNP Paribas Fortis, Deloitte, Deloitte Legal, Port of Antwerp and SAS Institute, in order to support start-ups with advice with respect to the environment, health and safety. The incubator also concluded a cooperative accord with essenscia’s Innovation Circle, whereby young entrepreneurs can be supervised by an experienced mentor. Flemish Minister of Economy and Innovation Hilde Crevits announced EUR 500,000 of operational support to offer the start-ups in BlueChem the perfect framework for increasing their chances of success, while the city of Antwerp, through the BlueChem Kickstart Fund, gives start-ups with BlueChem up to 700 euro/m² of financial support for setting up their labs.

BlueChem is an initiative of essenscia, the sector federation for chemistry and life sciences, the ‘Provinciale Ontwikkelingsmaatschappij’ (POM) Antwerpen, the city of Antwerp, research organisation VITO, and Catalisti, the spearhead cluster for innovation in the chemical and plastics industry. From its base at BlueChem, Catalisti also coordinates the Moonshot programme for climate innovation, whereby the Flemish Government will invest EUR 400 million over the coming 20 years in scientific research into renewable technologies for low-CO2 and carbon circular industries. This concerns, among other things, the capture and reuse of CO2, the electrification of production processes, improved recycling techniques, hydrogen projects and the use of biomass such as wood or agricultural waste as raw materials.

Leentje Croes, manager of BlueChem NV, says: “The first anniversary of BlueChem is a real celebration. The incubator is running at full speed and a few of the innovations in sustainable chemistry and the circular economy are on the cusp of an industrial breakthrough. In a very short period of time, BlueChem has expanded to become the central cog in pioneering chemistry technology in Flanders. This central position in the innovative chain is to be further developed in the coming years, by means of complementary collaborations with neighbouring pre-incubator BlueApp and the NextGen District in the port of Antwerp. Thanks to these partnerships, start-ups can gradually expand; testing ideas in BlueApp, making professional breakthroughs thanks to specialised accommodation and support from BlueChem, and carrying out industrial scale-ups in a demo factory or pilot installation in the port.”



BlueChem welcomes A-Maze Group as a new tenant

On March 3, A-Maze Group BV joined the BlueChem community as a tenant. The start-up is an innovative executive search and recruitment agency for all port-related industries with a strong focus on the world of tomorrow and the associated opportunities in the areas of energy transition, climate change and circular economy.

Nancy De Groof and Bart Seliaerts founded A-Maze in February 2021, but combine 35 years of working experience in the port sector. They know the ins and outs of the port, are in close contact with universities and they maintain contacts with important public stakeholders, such as the port authorities. Together with their existing network of industry professionals, they help job seekers address complex challenges during their job search.

Nancy and Bart not only strive to connect job seekers to an organisation, but they also want to actively promote sustainable businesses. Giving both people and the planet a helping hand, that is the goal of A-Maze.

With the common eye on a better world and the concern for humanity, the cooperation between A-Maze and BlueChem is guaranteed to be a success.

More information about A-Maze Group BV can be found on their website or LinkedIn page.