In a rapidly changing world fueled by digital transformation and the Internet of Things, Antwerp isn’t just a bystander, it’s an innovator. Taking this role a step further, the city intends to create an industrious IoT-environment. This ecosystem is a delicate innovation network, encouraging cohesion between the fields of education, research, digital and industrial companies, living labs, incubators and providers of private equities. Uniting these territories and players will generate added value and prompt mutual collaboration.
Antwerp (Flanders) prepares to become one of Europe’s vanguards in the field of the Internet of Things (IoT). Together with the city, port and the University of Antwerp and the Flanders-based imec research institute, the city plans to unveil an ambitious, ground-breaking IoT-environment.
Just earlier this year, Antwerp launched its ‘City of Things’ project, but the new initiative far surpasses the former. Along with smart city and smart port solutions, the institutional cooperation aims to promote the development of IoT-related answers applicable to domains such as e-health, industry 4.0 and the circular economy. By engineering this collaboration, Antwerp aspires to become a ‘Capital of Things’.
“Industry as we know it is facing a massive transition,” explains Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of the Port of Antwerp. “Industry 4.0 refers to a new industrial environment that incorporates the newest digital technology such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence and robotics. Everything will be internet-connected, and big data processing and analytics will lead to value-generating insights.”
“The same goes for port activities,” continues Vandermeiren, “Together with private port companies and data platform NxtPort, the Port of Antwerp will forge a ‘Harbor of Things’. This must anticipate the sweeping technological transitions for harbors that are on the horizon. The smart management of goods flows, innovative goods handling and data-driven infrastructure management are only a few of them.”
The first step in the transition towards the IoT-based economy and society of tomorrow is the introduction of an interacademic Internet of Things program. “This academic course will commence in fall 2017 and is the result of a partnership between universities in Antwerp, Brussels and Ghent,” Peter Hellinckx, head of IT at the University of Antwerp, points out. “The pilot program is primarily intended for students holding masters’ degrees in IT and industrial and civil engineering, but will eventually grow into a comprehensive degree program in its own right.”
The program is created in close collaboration with private companies that are eager to prepare themselves for the Internet of Things revolution. City administration, the Port of Antwerp and imec will assist in promoting the pioneering pan-academic program.