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BlueChem incubator welcome first sustainable start-ups

As local COVID-19 confinement measures are being relaxed, the first start-ups have taken up residence at BlueChem, Flanders’ first-ever incubator to focus entirely on innovation and entrepreneurship in sustainable chemistry. At BlueChem, these start-ups will be able tap into the support of various industry leaders as well as cluster and key organizations. This provides them with an ideal framework for accelerating sustainable innovations and increasing their chances of developing successful industrial applications.  

BlueChem offices in Antwerp

Successful from the start

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the official opening of BlueChem – situated at Blue Gate Antwerp – was canceled at the end of April 2020. Even still, the incubator for sustainable chemistry is making a lot of headway. BlueChem is now home to seven start- and scale-ups and works with six international firms and five strategic partners.  

Following Arpadis, Creaflow and InOpSys (which became part of the BlueChem family in December 2019), four new start-ups have chosen BlueChem as their R&D base: 

  • Calidris Bio, which will use fermentation technology to produce a high-quality, nutritious and affordable source of protein with a small ecological footprint;  

  • IBEVE, which will develop and test high-quality analytical techniques for more accurate detection and evaluation of nanomaterials, asbestos fibers and other dust particles;  

  • Peace of Meat, which will use biological processes to grow fat and liver cells for the production of, among other things, animal-free foie gras;  

  • Triple Helix, which will provide expert and financial support to companies focusing on the transition to sustainable chemistry, particularly the development of circular value chains in high-quality materials such as PET, polyurethanes and phenols.  

Still plenty of room and support

The first start-ups set their activities up at BlueChem in the first week of May 2020, in line with hygiene measures and social distancing rules, in order to guarantee a safe working environment in the face of COVID-19. Despite the global pandemic, nearly half of the available laboratories and office spaces are already claimed.  

However, BlueChem shareholders (essenscia, POM Antwerp, the city of Antwerp and strategic research center VITO) emphasize that there’s still plenty of room for more start-ups. What’s more, three additional international firms – Air Liquide, ExxonMobil and Vopak – have decided to put their shoulders to the wheel. Industry leaders BASF, Borealis and INEOS had already agreed to cooperate. This gives start-ups access to a unique business network to help scale up their innovations in sustainable chemistry to an industrial level, both in Flanders and internationally.  

Specialized international network

The companies setting up business at BlueChem can rely on specialized financing, innovation, legal and business development services. For example, experts from Catalisti, Flanders’ spearhead cluster for chemistry and plastics, will also be present at BlueChem to provide tailored support alongside strategic partners such as BNP Paribas Fortis, Deloitte and the Port of Antwerp. Even the American SAS Institute has entered into a structural partnership with BlueChem, offering start-ups and scale-ups access to an advanced analytics platform to work with  big data, AI and machine learning , in order to take their innovative applications to the next level.  

“The great interest shown by companies indicates the need for a sustainable chemistry incubator,” says Frank Beckx, chairman of BlueChem and managing director of essenscia vlaanderen. “BlueChem offers the right accommodation in the right place to support innovations that focus on sustainable chemistry and the circular economy. I would like to thank all entrepreneurs and partner companies for being part of BlueChem and making industry more sustainable. BlueChem is where the future of chemistry is being shaped.”  

More info

Reported by
BlueChem website
15 June 2020

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