Antwerp is best ‘large European city’ for investors according to Financial Times

Antwerp is best ‘large European city’ for investors according to Financial Times

In the prestigious fDi Intelligence ‘Global Cities and Regions of the Future 2022/2023’ rankings of cities with a population under two million, Antwerp scores a first place for its strategy for attracting foreign direct investment. The city also was rewarded for its business-friendliness, its economic potential and its connectivity. As a result, Antwerp reached a top 10 spot in the overall ranking of large cities, for the very first time.

FDi Intelligence, The Financial Times’ centre of excellence in the field of foreign investment, publishes various rankings of business cities and regions. A team of experts compares cities and regions around the world, based on their economic potential and attractiveness for international companies and inward investment. For this ‘European Cities of the Future 2022/2023’ ranking, fDi collected intelligence and data for 367 cities, with 161 submissions from locations.

Top 10 spot in the ranking of large European cities and best Belgian city

For the first time, Antwerp is included in 4 of the 6 rankings in the category ‘large cities’: first place in the ranking of strategy for attracting direct investment, 2nd for connectivity, 6th for business-friendliness and 8th for economic potential. As a result, Antwerp reaches a 9th place in the overall ranking of cities up to two million inhabitants. Another conclusion is that Antwerp is the highest scoring Belgian city in the fDi rankings.

The judging panel of fDi Intelligence refers to Antwerp’s efforts to digitise investment promotion and service and its overarching vision to make the traditional engines of growth a platform to foster innovation and sustainable development. The city’s flourishing start-up ecosystem is nurturing and growing the city’s excellence of tomorrow, according to the jury. At the global fDi Strategy Awards (2020), Antwerp received a ‘specialism award’ for chemistry and a special mention for stimulating innovation (2018).

Erica Caluwaerts, alderwoman for economy, employment, innovation, public domain, industry and digitization: “Antwerp is significantly moving forward in the rankings and succeeds in improving its competitiveness. We invested strongly in a business-friendly administration and fDi’s jury noticed that. Thanks to the port and the industry, we achieve a high score for economic potential while anchoring a lot of foreign investments. Our strategy for attracting new investments and companies was rewarded with a first place. Our second place for connectivity is also related to strengthening our position in digital connectivity and connectivity in business. Antwerp is an excellent city for innovation and doing business."

Innovative business city with international ambitions

As an innovative business city with international ambitions, Antwerp focuses on innovation in the digital, circular and health economy. For each of these innovation clusters, Antwerp develops an ecosystem of hubs (The Beacon, BlueChem and BlueHealth Innovation Center), companies, knowledge institutions and authorities. Late 2021, Dunden was initiated, an innovation hub for start-ups and scale-ups, based on a community-approach. In 2022, both Vaccinopolis, a vaccine test centre, and BlueApp, a pre-incubator for sutainable chemistry, will open its doors. On a former industrial area in the port of Antwerp, NextGen District will become a hotspot for circular economy. In the meantime, there are also plans for a substantial expansion of BlueChem, an incubator for sustainable chemistry, located in Blue Gate Antwerp, an eco-effective, water-bound business park.

On the rise in international rankings

As a leading city in Belgium, Antwerp’s clearly on the rise in international rankings. In StartupBlink’s Global Startup Ecosystem Index 2021, Antwerp moved up as much as 80 places in the international ranking and 19 in the European ranking, compared to 2020. Danish platform company Valuer included Antwerp for the first time in its ranking ’50 Best Startup Cities in the World’. And Antwerp is in 17th place in the Covid-19 Innovation Ranking by StartupBlink. This ranking rewards countries and cities that focus on innovative projects with an international impact, in response to the pandemic.

Mayor of Antwerp Bart De Wever: “Antwerp is a financially sound city. At the same time, investments are in full swing to make the most of our economic future. Our port continues to break records. And by building the Oosterweel Link, we strengthen our position as the logistical heart of one of the most prosperous regions in the world. Moreover, this project will improve the quality of life for our inhabitants. For the first time ever, there are more job openings in Antwerp than there are job seekers. We make sure that everyone reaps the rewards of tomorrow’s wealth. In short: Antwerp is open for business.”

The ‘Global Cities of the Future 2022/2023’ rankings are available online at; please click here for the direct link. These rankings are also published in the February/March 2022 issue of fDi Intelligence, the bi-monthly foreign direct investment publication of the British business publication The Financial Times, with a circulation of more than 100,000 active corporate readers and cross-border investment professionals. All information about doing business and investing in Antwerp can be found at


​Journalists can find more information about the City of Antwerp’s business story as well as visuals in the media section of this newsroom. Attention: these visuals are only intended for use by journalists and may not be passed on to third parties. They may only be used by news outlets in the framework of communication about the City of Antwerp, crediting the photographer as per the file name.

Do you have specific questions or are you considering visiting our city? Get in touch with us at

More information about the hubs and projects in this press release can be found online:
​Blue Gate Antwerp:
​BlueHealth Innovation Center:
​NextGen District:
​The Beacon:

For more information about this press release, please contact:
​- Johan Vermant, spokesman of mayor Bart De Wever, tel. +32 491 35 84 87,
​- Magalie Verstraelen, spokeswoman of alderwoman Erica Caluwaerts, tel. +32 487 67 87 03,

Copyright header image: Tom Cornille







About Business in Antwerp


As pocket-sized metropolis, Antwerp offers a myriad of opportunities. Located in the heart of Europe, the city is proud to be home to Europe’s second largest port and the continent’s top chemical cluster. Antwerp is also the diamond trade capital of the world  and Belgium’s favourite retail destination. Today the city is stepping up its game, with digital innovation, circularity, creativity and health forming the pillars on which its future economy is built. International and vibrant? Check. Innovative and creative? Check. Friendly and multi-cultural? Check. Antwerp has it all.