Start-ups in BlueChem present their innovations to the city council of Antwerp

The city council of Antwerp paid a working visit to BlueChem, the first incubator for sustainable chemistry in Belgium. BlueChem opened its doors at the beginning of May and helps promising start-ups and ambitious growth companies to scale up their innovation projects in sustainable chemistry and circular economy to industrial production. BlueChem has got off to a flying start: with 7 start-ups and 6 partner companies, a third of the available laboratories and office spaces in BlueChem is already occupied.

The city council of Antwerp met for the occasion in BlueChem. During an extensive tour, the mayor and aldermen were subsequently introduced to the specialised lab infrastructure in the incubator. The entrepreneurs of the start-ups and scale-ups presented their promising innovations during the working visit. With Arpadis, Calidris Bio, Creaflow, IBEVE, InOpSys, Peace of Meat and Triple Helix Group, 7 innovative growth companies are already working in BlueChem.


First incubator for sustainable chemistry

Frank Beckx, chairman BlueChem and managing director essenscia vlaanderen: “BlueChem is the first incubator for sustainable chemistry in Belgium. With BlueChem, here in Antwerp, in the heart of one of the largest chemical clusters in the world, we offer the right accommodation in the right place to help grow promising innovations in the field of sustainable chemistry and circular economy: from lab experiments to industrial production. The great interest of both start-ups and international chemical companies shows that we are writing a success story with BlueChem. For the chemistry of the future, you have to be in BlueChem.”

BlueChem is the first realised project on the eco-commercial site Blue Gate Antwerp. The incubator is sustainably built and meets the BEN standard and the BREEAM Excellent label. With the BlueChem Kickstart Fund, the city of Antwerp offers companies in BlueChem financial support for their lab equipment. With Catalisti, the spearhead cluster for the chemical and plastics industry, and VITO (Flemish Institute for Technological Research), BlueChem can also rely on an extensive and valuable network of scientific knowledge partners.


Claude Marinower, Alderman for Economy, Innovation and Industry and director of BlueChem: “It was impressive to discover all those inspiring entrepreneurial stories about innovating for a sustainable industry and society. BlueChem proves that sustainability and economic growth do not have to be mutually exclusive. With the BlueChem Kickstart Fund, the city of Antwerp offers financial support to start-ups in the incubator so that they can equip their labs with the most advanced equipment. In this way, we are realizing more innovative power for the chemical industry.”

Bart De Wever, Mayor of the city of Antwerp: “With BlueChem we are strengthening one of Antwerp’s major economic assets: our chemical industry. This is investing in the future, in an ecosystem for top innovations in sustainable chemistry and climate technology with which we can make a global difference. BlueChem is a new asset for Antwerp that will play a full part in the international promotion of our city. We also strongly believe in the cross-fertilization between government, industry and academia.”

BlueChem is a unique collaboration between industry, government and knowledge institutions with the joint ambition to further strengthen the economically important chemical industry in Flanders. Shareholders in BlueChem NV are essenscia, POM Antwerp, the city of Antwerp and VITO. Supplemented with Catalisti, they form the Board of Directors. Chemical companies Air Liquide, BASF, Borealis, ExxonMobil, INEOS and Vopak are also involved in this project. Strategic partners are BNP Paribas Fortis, Deloitte, Deloitte Legal, Port of Antwerp and SAS Institute. They offer the companies in BlueChem specialised advice tailored to their needs.

Leentje Croes, manager BlueChem: With BlueChem we have everything we need to help promising start-ups and ambitious growth companies from home and abroad to successfully develop their sustainable chemistry innovations. Adapted infrastructure at a top location, financial support for setting up labs, tailored services – from business and legal advice to data analysis platforms – and direct access to knowledge and expertise within an extensive network of international chemical companies, research centres such as VITO and the Catalisti innovation cluster that collaborates intensively with the five Flemish universities. BlueChem is a unique initiative that will frequently be heard of.”



First start-ups take up residence in BlueChem incubator for sustainable chemistry

With the relaxation of the corona measures, the first start-ups will take up residence in BlueChem this week. BlueChem is the first incubator in Belgium to focus on innovation and entrepreneurship in sustainable chemistry. The labs are already almost half full. With Calidris Bio, IBEVE, Peace of Meat and Triple Helix, four innovative growth companies once again choose BlueChem in Antwerp as a base for their research and business activities. With additional support from Air Liquide, ExxonMobil, SAS Institute and Vopak, BlueChem provides the right expertise and framework to accelerate sustainable innovations and increase their success rate for industrial application.

Despite the corona crisis, the labs in BlueChem are already almost half full

Due to the corona virus, the official opening of BlueChem at the end of April was cancelled, but the incubator for sustainable chemistry at the eco-company site Blue Gate Antwerp is making good progress. With 7 start-ups and scale-ups, the cooperation of 6 international companies and 5 strategic partners who offer a tailor-made service to the tenants in BlueChem, the available laboratories and office spaces are already almost half occupied. As a result, at least 60 people will already be able to work in BlueChem. The first start-ups will start their activities this week, of course with respect for the applicable hygiene measures and physical distance rules in order to guarantee a safe working environment.



International network

Shareholders essenscia, POM Antwerp, the city of Antwerp and VITO stress that there is still enough room in BlueChem for extra start-ups. With Air Liquide, ExxonMobil and Vopak zetten, three international companies once again joined the incubator for sustainable chemistry. Previously, industry companies BASF, Borealis and INEOS had already agreed to cooperate. This gives the entrepreneurs in BlueChem access to a unique and cross-border business network to scale up their innovations in sustainable chemistry to an industrial level, both at home and abroad.


Specialised service

The companies at BlueChem can also count on specialized services in the field of financing, innovation, legal support and business development. For example, the experts from Catalisti, the spearhead cluster for innovation in the chemical and plastics industry in Flanders, will be housed in BlueChem and strategic partners such as BNP Paribas Fortis, Deloitte, Deloitte Legal and Port of Antwerp will provide a tailor-made service. SAS Institute also enters into a structural partnership with BlueChem, making its advanced analytics platform available to start-ups and scale-ups. This allows them to work with big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning to take their innovative research and industrial applications to the next level.

Claude Marinower, Antwerp’s alderman for economy, innovation and digitilisation and director of BlueChem NV: “The flying start of BlueChem proves that Antwerp is becoming an attractive national and international hotspot for innovative companies in sustainable chemistry. In order to further strengthen this innovative power for the chemical sector, the economic engine of Antwerp and Flanders, we offer young entrepreneurs financial support with the BlueChem Kickstart Fund to set up their labs. Because they were forced by the corona measures to temporarily postpone their move to the BlueChem incubator, it was also agreed that the start-ups and scale-ups would only have to pay half the rent in April and May.”

Frank Beckx, chairman of BlueChem NV and managing director essenscia vlaanderen, the sector federation of chemical and life sciences industry: “The great interest shown by companies demonstrates that we are writing a success story with BlueChem. It is clear that there was a need for an incubator for sustainable chemistry in Flanders. BlueChem offers the right accommodation in the right place to successfully support ground-breaking innovations with a strong focus on sustainable chemistry and circular economy in their growth strategy. I would like to thank all entrepreneurs and partner companies for their commitment to take the lead with BlueChem in making the chemical and other industries more sustainable. For the chemistry of the future, you have to be at BlueChem.”


Innovation in sustainable chemistry

After Arpadis, Creaflow en InOpSys, who signed their lease in BlueChem in December 2019, four promising companies, Calidris Bio, IBEVE, Peace of Meat and Triple Helix, once again choose for BlueChem. Calidris Bio is a start-up founded last year that carries out innovation projects in cooperation with Flanders’ FOOD and with the cooperation of Catalisti and VITO, knowledge partners of BlueChem.

Calidris Bio uses fermentation technology to produce a high quality, nutritious and affordable source of protein with a low ecological footprint. The technology makes maximum use of renewable raw materials and has minimal impact on land use or marine ecosystems. The mission is primarily to offer an alternative to soy and fishmeal for animal nutrition. We are also investigating what is needed to use this same protein for human nutrition at a later stage.

IBEVE is an expertise agency that is part of the IDEWE Group and offers entrepreneurs and their employees specialist services in the areas of safety, sustainability and the environment. At BlueChem, IBEVE wants to set up a test lab to develop high-quality analysis techniques under strictly controlled conditions for more accurate detection and evaluation of nanomaterials, asbestos fibres and other dust particles. Therefore, an advanced scanning electron microscope (SEM) will be installed in BlueChem this summer. The goal? Better protect human health and the environment and conduct more scientific research in collaboration with universities and public authorities.

Peace of Meat is a rearing meat company that uses biological processes to grow fat and liver cells, among other things to produce animal-free foie gras. The primary focus is on the production of cultured fats, but Peace of Meat also wants to produce other types of cultured meat in the long term in order to become a European leader in this market segment. One of the projects is the marketing of foie gras based on laboratory-grown duck liver cells with a taste and texture identical to the traditional product. For this purpose, the start-up is part of a consortium with KU Leuven, the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant and some players from the food industry.

Triple Helix supports sustainable innovations of start-ups, growth companies and large corporations to accelerate the introduction of innovative technologies to the market. Based on a unique model, Triple Helix injects expertise and invests financially in companies focused on the transition to sustainable chemistry. The emphasis is on the development of circular value chains in high-quality materials such as PET, polyurethanes and phenols. The ambition is considerable: from BlueChem, Triple Helix wants to become an international player in sustainable chemistry in the long term.

Bluechem boardroom


About BlueChem

BlueChem is a unique collaboration between industry, knowledge institutions and government with the ambition to help promising innovations from start-ups and young companies active in sustainable chemistry grow to an industrial scale in order to strengthen the economically important chemical industry in Flanders. Project partners in BlueChem NV are essenscia, POM Antwerpen, the city of Antwerp and VITO, which together with Catalisti form the Board of Directors. The incubator accommodates about 20 companies and has 15 labs, 24 offices, 20 flexplaces and some meeting rooms, spread over 4 floors.

BlueChem can count on financial support from the Flemish government via the Hermes Fund (868,397 euros) and on European support via the ERDF, the European Regional Development Fund (3.47 million euros). The construction costs for BlueChem amount to more than 7 million euros. The City of Antwerp supports young entrepreneurs with the BlueChem Kickstart Fund, which provides them with financial support in furnishing their laboratories.

With the support of:





More information

Leentje Croes
Manager BlueChem
0472 889 776 

Magalie Verstraelen
Spokesperson alderman Claude Marinower
0487 67 87 03

Gert Verreth
Head of Communication & spokesperson essenscia
0477 46 42 27