At the KBC Tower in Antwerp's Schoenmarkt, KBC just made seven floors available to accommodate start-up businesses & partners.
Together with Accenture, Flanders DC, the University of Antwerp, Cronos and Mobile Vikings, KBC is launching Start It @kbc, an incubator that not only gives start-ups a roof over their head but above all provides them with support and advice.
The aim of Start It @kbc is to give encouragement to start-up businesses and to guide them during the initial phase and the subsequent development period. The team comprises Mobile Vikings, with experience in the field of social media and telecoms; Accenture, not only offering consultancy but also working on mobility; Cronos, a technology firm with a focus on integration and innovation; the University of Antwerp, which, in addition to product development, also nurtures students in putting their ideas into practice; and Flanders DC, a supporter of innovation. Peter Hinssen has also been drafted in as permanent consultant on the advisory board. On top of this, a number of patrons are also supporting the project, such as Microsoft, which is providing free Office software.
The project is directed towards start-up businesses engaging in innovative work that will contribute to an enduring local economy. The prime candidates in this respect are start-ups in fields such as mobility, clean-tech, demographic change, the ageing population and the digital society. For at least one year, start-up entrepreneurs can use the logistical facilities for free and call on the assistance of the partners.
Depending on its success and the level of interest shown by start-ups, a review will later be done of how the initiative might evolve on into the future. And consideration will also be given to perhaps rolling the project out at another KBC location, or even on a virtual platform.
Why is KBC is launching this initiative?
'For many long years, KBC has been the bank-insurer of choice for business, a place it has earned by working in close conjunction and growing along with local entrepreneurs. KBC is embedded in the local economy and has thorough, detailed knowledge of the business market. 'Local responsiveness' is an essential component of KBC's strategy and, for KBC, this means gaining a better understanding of local clients, being alert to the signals they emit and the needs they voice, responding pro-actively to these signals and needs and offering tailor-made banking and insurance products, all of which help build and entrench lasting, long-term client relationships with business (whether sole traders, SMEs, midcaps, or, indeed, firms of any size).With its geographical locations, the expertise of its staff in Flanders and Brussels and its close-knit network of bank branches and insurance agencies, KBC is ideally positioned as a bank-insurer to gain a feel for the needs and wants of start-up businesses and to deliver appropriately, in the mould of a true partner.'
Erik Luts, Senior General Manager of Direct Channels & Support at KBC's Belgium Business Unit
Learn more about this initiative at www.startit.be.