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

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.

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.

IBEVEis 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.

 

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
leentje.croes@bluechem.be 

Magalie Verstraelen
Spokesperson alderman Claude Marinower
0487 67 87 03
magalie.verstraelen@antwerpen.be

Gert Verreth
Head of Communication & spokesperson essenscia
0477 46 42 27
gverreth@essenscia.be