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In recent years, Flanders has seen a remarkable rise in the number of companies developing new medical technology: from health screening apps to home monitoring and smart questionnaires for a doctor’s visit. The boost is particularly noticeable in and around Antwerp. As of 2022, the city is home to 55 healthtech ventures, about double the number from roughly five years earlier. 
Medtech is booming in Flanders

Healthtech on the rise

Technological developments are evolving at breakneck speed, and the health sector has been following suit for years. In addition to countless medical apps being developed, more and more new companies are coming up with innovative solutions to a wide array of health problems. “Healthtech is on the rise all over the world, not in the least here in Flanders,” says Piet Verhoeve, director of innovation at spearhead cluster MEDVIA, which aims to keep Flanders at the head of the healthtech pack. “New applications for personalized and digital medicine are popping up all over the region.”

But while cities like Leuven and Ghent have been top ecosystems in Flanders for some time, the recent growth of the medtech scene is particularly striking in Antwerp. The city is now home to 55 healthtech companies (and counting). Dries Hens, who helped to set up Leuven-based medical data company Lynxcare, confirms this trend: 

There is a lot of investment in healthtech in Antwerp, and the sector is becoming ever more successful. Antwerp offers many opportunities to build a strong health tech scene around its large hospital networks – and with support from the city.

Dries Hens
co-founder and Chief Business & Medical Officer at Lynxcare

Supportive environment

Part of Antwerp’s competitive edge comes from the presence of cutting-edge knowledge institutions such as the Institute of Tropical Medicine. In addition, the city is home to nearly thirty hospital campuses, a top university and Vaccinopolis, Europe’s largest vaccine research center. 

Strong medical ideas often emerge from close-knit R&D environments such as the one in Antwerp, but it’s a big step to put them into practice. In this regard, there is a lot of available support, including subsidies. Companies can receive up to EUR 150,000 to accelerate the development of smart technologies aimed at improving the health of residents. Byteflies, for example, received EUR 120,000 to fund a new system that allows the remote monitoring of COVID patients with mild symptoms. The company now aims to expand the system to other diseases and introduce it around the globe. 

Innovative booster shot

What’s more, “the COVID-19 pandemic gave the entire healthtech sector a booster shot by accelerating the implementation of innovative medical technologies,” Dries Hens confirms. “Ever since the pandemic, doctors and hospitals remain very open to these developments, because they help improve efficiency – both in their own work and for the care of their patients.”

Discover Flanders’ life sciences & health ecosystem

Want to unravel this ecosystem in a virtual yet interactive way? Head to the Flanders360 platform and discover 300+ successful companies, universities, R&D centers, incubators and other players active in Flanders’ life sciences & health industry. 

Alternatively, check out our industry overview to learn more about the available tax, legal and other incentives for establishing your life sciences & health hub in Flanders.

Reported by
newspaper De Gazet van Antwerpen

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