Empowering student-entrepreneurs to successfully combine academics and running a business

3 July 2015

Entrepreneurship among students is on the rise and more and more ambitious student entrepreneurs are discovering that successfully combining studies and running a business can prove challenging. Student entrepreneurs either spend less time on their startup or study resulting in dropouts or bankruptcy. While Steve Jobs (Apple), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), and Dutch Pieter Zwart (Coolblue) have been highly successful despite dropping out of college, this will not be the reality for many student entrepreneurs. This begs the question: how can we help ambitious student-entrepreneurs to successfully combine academics and running a business?

Yesterday, on behalf of the Dutch Centres for Entrepreneurship (Dutch CE) and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, as well as The Dutch Academy for Research in Entrepreneurship (DARE) and Startup Delta, the ECE hosted a meetup with more than 30 educators, specialists, and leaders in the field of entrepreneurship education to talk about specialty support programmes for student entrepreneurs – the so called ‘topondernemersregeling – and best practices in the creation of an ecosystem which promotes entrepreneurial talent.

Want to share your insights and best practices in the area of entrepreneurship education as it takes place please contact Lisette Schön (schon@ece.nl), and fill in the survey!


Student Entrepreneurs Excellence Programme (Erasmus University Rotterdam)



First to take the stage was Hendrik Halbe, director of the ECE, to share the story of the Student Entrepreneurs Excellence Programme (StEEP) offered at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. The programme has seen much success in achieving its goal of supporting  student entrepreneurs in running their businesses successfully due to their study and not despite of their study. Halbe noted that strict selection of participants, similar to the selection of top level athletes granted the status, ensures that the status is respected. He also encouraged educators to start simple and start today with setting up such programmes.


Landstede Business Boost



Jordy Lugtenberg, project leader of Landstede Business Boost, discussed the special regulations in place for students of the school. Support for top student athletes was there, but no support for top level student entrepreneurs. Hence the creation of the programme. Student entrepreneurs from the programme speak highly of it noting the benefits of network access and case manager support being key to their successful completion of their studies together with the growth of their business.


Hogeschool van Amsterdam- graduation based on own business



Speaking on behalf of the support programme at the Amsterdam Hogeschool was Martin Haring. Student entrepreneurs are noticeably on the rise, with approximately 10% of the student body stating that they want to begin a business. However, while many student businesses are started during their studies, almost 80% are liquidated after the first year due to the team falling apart or study demands. The Hogeschool therefore teamed up with the Amsterdam Centre for Entrepreneurship (ACE), to offer students the option to graduate based on work experience within their own business, to the satisfaction of many of their student-entrepreneurs.


While all of the programmes experienced their own challenges in creation and implementation, the successes seen in the three cases presented at the meetup only further strengthen the need for support for students in the completion of their studies and growth of their startup.


Entrepreneurship education in the Netherlands


Moving from specialty support programmes, Jeroen Veenenbos of the ECE, presented the first findings from an ongoing research project into the current offering of entrepreneurship education in the Netherlands. Early findings show many forms of entrepreneurship education currently have an emphasis on theory instead of a more practical approach. Other challenges include inspiring fellow educators and other stakeholders to adopt entrepreneurship into their curriculum. Some best practices collected so far include the creation of strong links with businesses – those of alumni in particular – in the region to create a better balance between theory and practice, clear and frequent communication to keep stakeholders up to date, and providing students with inspirational activities that offer an easy entry into the world of entrepreneurship.


What’s next?

StartupDelta: Entrepreneurship education  in the Netherlands

The study into the current offering of entrepreneurship education in the Netherlands is still running. StartupDelta has asked the Dutch Centres for Entrepreneurship (led by Kees Eijkel) to create an overview of the different types of entrepreneurship education that exist at this moment in the Netherlands. The results of this project will be presented during the GEW in November and will be made available for the public.


Want to share your insights and best practices in the area of entrepreneurship education as it takes place, please contact Lisette Schön (schon@ece.nl), and fill in the survey!


DARE: Research on the impact of entrepreneurship education and valorisation.

The Dutch Academy for Research in Entrepreneurship (DARE) is looking to research the impact of entrepreneurship education and will present the findings in the fall at a seminar they will organise on November 5. For this seminar, DARE invites researchers and practitioners to submit papers. For more information on the seminar and to submit your paper visit the DARE website.

Get Started Programme

Get Started is a 12-week startup programme that helps ambitious entrepreneurs grow their early stage business through mentoring, workshops and a great network of fellow entrepreneurs.

Capacity: 60 ECE Campus

DARE seminar

It is with great pleasure that we invitate you to the DARE seminar on Types and Roles of Entrepreneurship. Various types of entrepreneurs and which roles they play in our economy and society will be discussed.

Capacity: 30 ECE Campus

Get in the Ring the Netherlands

Are you a startup and ready to Get in The Ring? Apply now to be part of this worldwide startup competition.

Capacity: 800 Rotterdam Science Tower

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