Antwerp wins award from Global Entrepreneurship Network


The city of Antwerp has been awarded one of the Global Entrepreneurship Network’s three major awards for its support of start-ups, which has led to a remarkable surge in new enterprise

Local Policy Leadership

The city of Antwerp has won the prestigious Local Policy Leadership Award from the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) for its policy of encouraging enterprise and stimulating the growth of start-ups. The city also received a share in a subsidy of €5.6 million, together with Helsinki and Copenhagen, to spend on digital start-ups.

GEN is a worldwide network of enterprise forums aimed at supporting enterprise and creating new ventures and jobs. In Belgium, GEN is represented by This week the Startups Nations Summit is taking place in Monterrey, Mexico, at which Antwerp’s award will be handed over. Local Policy Leadership is the first such award granted by GEN and one of three major awards to be given at the conference. 

“Antwerp is an exceptional, atypical laboratory for enterprise, a real test-bed,” mayor Bart De Wever said. “If it works in Antwerp, it will work anywhere. The city authorities, and particularly economy alderman Philip Heylen, give everything to the support of start-ups in co-operation with the private sector.” 

Antwerp is building a whole new ecosystem for start-ups, Heylen said, involving private sector, government and knowledge institutions. It includes the student business centre TakeOffAntwerp; several new business incubators, including Start It @ KBC and the Telenet KickStart programme; StartupVillage for companies at the next stage of their development; and BlueChem, where industry and academies work together on sustainable chemistry. 

“The city of Antwerp was honoured for its vision and enterprise-directed approach,” said Freddy Nurski, local representative for GEN. “Unlike other cities, it’s not trying to set up its own incubators or its own enterprise centre. It is instead achieving rapid results by following various routes together with private initiatives. And successfully, too: The number of start-ups has doubled in only two years.”