Role in the Innovation Ecosystem

The Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship (ECE) is the leading expertise centre on entrepreneurship in Europe. Fueled by our belief that entrepreneurship is the primary condition for realising progress, we use the knowledge and network of our university to speed up innovation by stimulating entrepreneurship.

The research from our 25+ scholars is shared and put into practice globally in governmental policies on entrepreneurship and in helping existing organisations facilitate internal innovation. Through our education we not only support over 20 corporates by training their employees to be intrapreneurs, but also coach first-time entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into an actual business, and teach over 3,000 students the foundations of entrepreneurship every year. Our community is a place where entrepreneurial minds of all kinds meet and successful alumni, such as Pieter Zwart (Founder / CEO Coolblue) and Fabian Dudek (Founder Nestpick), come together to share experiences, learn and inspire.


In our quest to encourage entrepreneurship not only at home but across the globe, ECE was one of the first partners to join the Global Entrepreneurship Network initiated by the Kauffman Foundation. Every year, we join the Global Entrepreneurship Congress to exchange knowledge, ideas and experiences on how to stimulate entrepreneurship with ecosystem partners from over 160 countries. In 2010, we were honoured to receive the host country of the year award, a prestigious award for the country that organises the most value-adding activities for the innovation ecosystem.

ECE is also a proud partner of the Get in the Ring (GITR) Foundation and the exclusive organizer of GITR in the Netherlands. The goal of GITR is to give startups a global stage and connect them to opportunities related to capital, talent and expertise by organising challenges and a startup competition held in over 80 countries. GITR the Netherlands is one of the biggest GITR events worldwide. Every year, over 250 startups participate in the competition and pitch for an audience of more than 1,500 investors, fellow entrepreneurs and corporates.

ECE is internationally recognised for its expertise in entrepreneurship and we have been asked to speak or represent the Netherlands at various international entrepreneurship events and networks, such as the 4 Years From Now Congress, a Trade Mission to Skolkovo in Russia of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and to the Korean Entrepreneurship Foundation in Seoul. In addition, we actively participate and share our knowledge in entrepreneurship programmes of the European Union. We are a member of the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) Programme in which young entrepreneurs get the opportunity to do an exchange with other, more experienced entrepreneurs in Europe.


Closer to home, we are an active member of networks such as StartupDelta and the Dutch Centres for Entrepreneurship (DutchCE). StartupDelta is the national organisation aiming to mobilise the entire country to work together and create a nation where entrepreneurs stand up, start up and then scale up. Our common goal is to help the Netherlands become Europe’s most well-connected and largest startup ecosystem!

As part of StartupDelta, we are the initiator of the frontrunners group COSTA alongside VNO NCW, Rotterdam School of Management and CVN. COSTA aims to explore how corporates can become ‘startup-ready’ and how startups can become ‘corporate-ready’. During the COSTA meetups, our academic director, Prof.dr. Justin Jansen and fellow ECE-researcher Vareska van de Vrande share the latest academic insights with C-level executives and work together with the participating firms to conduct further research into the collaboration between corporates and startups.

To walk the talk and put our findings into practice, we organise the How To Get There (HTGT) Summit, a flagship event of StartupDelta. During the HTGT Summit, innovative minds of the Netherlands meet as we mobilise corporates, startups and innovation hubs to innovate faster together as a ‘single hub’. In 2015, the HTGT Summit had keynotes such as Harold Goddijn, Pieter Zwart, Ben Verwaayen and Jan Kees de Jager, 30 breakout sessions, a Captains Meetup with 20 CEOs and 250 startups participating in Get in the Ring the Netherlands, resulting in 230 formal meetings with corporates.

Next to our work under the banner of StartupDelta, we are a founding partner of DutchCE, the collaborative network of centres for entrepreneurship of education institutes in the Netherlands. Through DutchCE, we primarily focus on improving the quality, offering and positioning of entrepreneurship education, training, and research in the Netherlands. On behalf of DutchCE, we are the lead coordinator for the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) in the Netherlands; during this week the HTGT Summit will be one of the 5 national main events next to over 100 regional events.

To further promote and facilitate entrepreneurship among students, we were the first university in the Netherlands to introduce a special programme for ambitious student-entrepreneurs, called the Student Entrepreneurs Excellence Programme (StEEP) back in 2012. StEEP can be compared to similar programmes that exist for the best student-athletes and helps student-entrepreneurs combine their studies with running their business. The goal of StEEP is to prevent drop-outs and help student-entrepreneurs graduate. To stimulate other educational institutions to start similar programmes, we have shared our results and best practices which you can find here.


We make it happen in Rotterdam, the city  “where things are being manufactured, where people have dreams and where crossovers are being realised.” (Daan Roosegaarde)

Rotterdam is home to the biggest port of Europe and a breeding place for innovation; it has a vibrant international startup ecosystem. During the HTGT Summit 2015, the city officially launched the Rotterdam Innovation District, an experimental living and working environment for pioneers in the medical technology, food and clean tech clusters.

Our home, the Rotterdam Science Tower, is situated at the heart of the Rotterdam Innovation District and the Merwe-Vierhavens (M4H) area. A true hotbed for entrepreneurship and innovation, our ECE Campus spans over 9,000m² and five of the tower’s floors. It is home to over 75 innovative companies in sectors ranging from fintech to port & logistics to healthcare. Every year, over 10,000 people visit our campus to get inspired during one of the many events and to enjoy the stunning view of the Rotterdam harbour, where new products are envisioned and made.