Entrepreneurs wanted!

A message from Ukukhula

We’re looking for young people who want to start a business, but still lack a piece of the puzzle. Especially young people, aged 18 to 30, about to finish or having completed their higher education and consciously choosing the path of entrepreneurship. Of course, you can start your business on your own, but our program might be for you if you recognize any of these problems:

“I’d like to start a business, but …
• I have not yet found the right idea / gap in the market or opportunity. ”
• I do not have a product / service. ”
• I’m looking for a complementary partner / co-founder. ”
• I am still looking for financing. ”
• I do not know how to start a business. ”

We have an answer to all these challenges. In addition, we continue to coach and mentor you until you are successful. In addition, we use our proven successful accelerate program. In return, we do not ask for money, just a modest share of your company. So, your success is also our success.

In fact, we already have several new startups on the shelf just screaming to be picked up by clever and creative people with youthful energy.

Will you join us at the table? We are specifically looking for software developers, sales and marketing specialists, UX designers, designers (graphic and industrial), writers / bloggers and photographers.
We are also looking for scientists and researchers in the field of 3D printing, genetic engineering, nanotechnology, infinite computing, AI, robotics, and solar energy.

We love new projects! Let’s get started. We’ll guide you from dream to success. Please apply via ukukhula.nl.

How to let regions prosper


Yesterday I was speaking at the 13th Annual OECD LEED Forum in Prague on ‘Resilient and Diversified Local Economies’, or in more old fashioned academic terms: structural economic change and productivity.

It was good to be in the country of Vaclav Havel and Joseph Schumpeter (yes, he was born in Triesch – Moravia, current day Czech Republic). Both great thinkers and proponents of open societies. Today I largely stood on the shoulders of Joseph Schumpeter, the inventor of the concept of “creative destruction”: productive innovations making old firms and industries redundant.

One of the questions today was whether regions grow faster if they are more specialized or more diversified. In academic research you can find almost as much evidence pro as contra both options. So, well, it depends…, is the unsatisfactory answer. In general for the economy to evolve and prosper you need experiments and successful experiments to be scaled up and diffused. A diversified economy is generally better at enabling experiments, but for scaling up you need to develop a critical mass, sometimes leading to a specialized economy. So a specialized economy may be more the outcome of successful development than the cause. The latter phenomenon is good for growth, but along the lifecycle of an industry, it’s not good to be stuck with a dying industry in your (specialized) region. Check Detroit! So best is a diversified region to experiment, but with possibilities to specialize in emerging and growing industries, and step out of low productivity industries. Here’s where the related variety discussion enters: if you want to step into new industries, they better be related to your existing competence bases. Regions tend to diversify in new activities related to their existing activities from which they draw and combine local competences, unrelated diversification is the exception. Computer hardware production is unlikely to emerge in a region that specializes in growing bananas, while software production is likely to emerge in regions with computer hardware production capabilities, and in a more radical way, Fintech is more likely to emerge in regions with capabilities in the IT industry and banking than regions without these capabilities.

Another question was how can an entrepreneurial ecosystem approach supports new growth sectors. And, what is an example of a region where an ecosystem has been developed to support industrial diversification? An entrepreneurial ecosystem approach takes into account both agency (entrepreneurs, firms) and structures (system) to stimulate economic development. A key element of economic development is structural change: the creation of new industries and the destruction of old industries. For this process of creative destruction to take place, policy needs to stimulate the entrepreneurs and businesses that have the potential to create new sectors. Targeted industrial policy has many problems. An effective option may be to create the best context for productive entrepreneurship: a flourishing entrepreneurial ecosystem. Examples around the globe are places like Boulder-Colorado, Cambridgeshire-UK, and in my home country: Amsterdam and Eindhoven. These places have not had explicit ecosystem strategies to start with, these largely emerged with a mixture of public and private involvement. They were certainly not a top down exercise, although places like Singapore and the United Arab Emirates might provide exceptions here.

Entrepreneurship: Skill or Capability?

Sometimes language poses substantial limitations. These weeks, the pressure to get policy on the agenda for the new cabinet formation reaches the boiling temperature – a Dutch saying with a too limited number of Google returns to be internationally valid. On top of the stack is a new human capital agenda for the Netherlands, in which education takes prime position. To break down this broad agenda, there is broad consensus that we have to move to the better inclusion of so called 21st century skills, which on the hard side include ‘coding’ and on the soft side an emphasis on ‘communication’. In my part-time role as ‘lobbyist’ for entrepreneurship education, it is key to get ‘entrepreneurial skills’ included in these 21st century skills, which is not very easy and successful so far, I must admit. Entrepreneurship education itself is too narrow for support, at least, that is the opinion of influential decision makers.

As said, language is a big limitation here. Thinking about entrepreneurship, many would argue that it is the ability to do something with 21st century skills. But this is not a skill in itself, it is what business scholars call a capability. But then it starts to become difficult, because Dutch language has no proper word for capability. Close is capaciteit, but this also has the non-personal generic feeling, the same as capacity. Closer is competency, however, competency driven teaching is completely discredited after big failure in vocational education, so lobby-suicide. We need a good word to capture what we mean when arguing that 21st skills alone will not save you if you do not know what to do with them.

So, let’s for the moment stick to entrepreneurship as a capability in English, and then return to the business school literature inspired by the great David Teece. In the resource based view of the firm, its is well understood that people in the firm (should) have skills and that these skills have to be a bit ‘vrio’, which means unique in creating a competitive advantage. In the early literature, key of creating vrio capabilities at the firm level lies in the combination of skills that may be unique. However, over time, there has come more emphasis on creating so called dynamic capabilities that are on a higher level than skills, as these skills will become a commodity in the end, starting probably by the treasured with coding approach – I start to bite a bit here….Hence, it is more useful to think of capabilities as existing on the organization level, not at the individual level. We can think of firm level entrepreneurial culture, learning abilities, and orchestration capabilities as skills at the organization level that make a competitive difference.

In the modern literature, this distinction between skills and capabilities may serve as an inspiration for framing future investments in entrepreneurship education. If we conclude that entrepreneurship is both an individual skill as an organizational capability, it may well be that the skills component is close to those already in the 21st century skills, so need no further mentioning. We can then focus on entrepreneurship education as a capability at the organizational level to facilitate the entrepreneurial use of 21st century skills. This then opens up the discussion to the large literature on organizational learning that moves from awareness and sensing, to exploration and ends in exploitation and execution. In this, primary education, secondary education and vocational and academic higher education as supply chain can find a proper role: The start of a entrepreneurship strategy to improve competitiveness of the Dutch economy through the human capital agenda.

Institutional Effectuation

Last week, I attended a conference in Dar es Salaam on institutional design for economic development. The conference was organized by REPOA, one of the leading think tanks of Sub Sahara Africa. Since John Magufuli rules Tanzania with a bombardement of institutional reforms, the effects of institutional reform has become very actual in the streets of Dar and beyond. Most ‘development’ partners  are very worried that the process of change will end in a nightmare. The big stars at conference were Lant Pritchett of Harvard, John Sutton of LSE and Francois Bourguignon of PSE, all associated economists with the World Bank. My own paper, by the way, was on connecting institutional reform to the emergence of entrepreneurial ecosystems.
During the conference, across sessions an angry discussion gained traction, to culminate in the last plenary session. African policy makers and academics ‘accused’ the knowledgeable white men of that ‘we know all this’. We know what good institutions are, in what way ‘our’ institutions are bad, and what the effects are of these malfunctioning institutions. We have the right policies for years, however, these have not generated the right institutions let alone the positive effects on economic development. It is implementation and execution stupid!
One young Nigerian economist working at the International Growth Center took up the challenge in his session. His argument was that policy advice should not focus on what institutions should be, but instead focus what they are and start improving what is there. This sounds simple, but actually is a revolutionary idea. in my comments, I called it Institutional Effectuation, after the effectuation method in entrepreneurship. Start with the bird in the hand, leverage what you have, be the pilot in the cockpit and fly your current resources. Clearly it can be useful to know where you are heading, but sometimes you spend a bit too much time and especially donor money to figure that out. And, it is a big difference whether you build capacity for future jobs, or focus to do your current job better.
It reminded me of a discussion some weeks ago at Makarere University in Kampala. I noticed that my modern problem centered entrepreneurship train-the-trainer approach using the Business Model Canvas and Lean Launchpad methods was not catching on as I was expecting. In the discussion, it was quietly mentioned ‘we know all that’…..What we do, we focus on success stories and the ask why they are successful. In Africa there are so many problems to which there are so many obvious but wickedly difficult theoretical solutions, starting from there is useless. What can we learn and scale from the few best practices is a more efficient strategy. Reading Lant’s book Building State Capacity in the plane back home, I was struck by an Albert Einstein quote. ‘Theory is we know everything and nothing works. Practice is everything works but we do not know why. In theory and practice means nothing works and we do not know why.’ Maybe we indeed should build theory a bit more on practice.
REPOA Conference IMG_0266

UtrechtInc Talent Pool

UtrechtInc is a startup incubator at the Utrecht Science Park with main partners: Utrecht University (UU), UU Medical Center (UMCU) and Utrecht University of Applied Sciences (HU). We offer starting entrepreneurs and scientists the network and facilities to shape their idea or startup into a healthy business.

Talent Pool
At UtrechtInc we love meeting young talented people. YOU GUYS are the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators! So that’s why we offer you:
– participation in fun innovative projects and startup events (such as hackathons, startup courses)
– internships/(parttime) jobs with startups or UtrechtInc
– a space to work on practical assignments within your study course (the UtrechtInc Garage)
– a chance to build your network and portfolio with access to startups, corporates and researchers
– an incubator to start your own company after graduating
– a chance to make an impact on our society and build your dreams:)

Sign up for the UtrechtInc Talent Pool.

Academics for Development

Academics for Development (AFD) is a student organisation that facilitates projects focused on social entrepreneurship and consultancy in the Global South. We are looking for new Project Students!

Are you interested in doing projects or conducting research in Africa, Asia or South America? Do you want to have social impact in a sustainable way while working in a small, interdisciplinary team of students with professional coaching? Come to our Project Information Evening!

Academics for Development Utrecht (AFD Utrecht) is looking for students who want to participate in one of our projects during the summer of 2017 for 6-8 weeks. As a preparation, teams of 3-6 students will work on a project during the academic year to be able to implement the projects successfully. The project teams will be guided by a coach with experience in the concerning country or with the topic of the project.

Learn more about AFD, the project insights, project practicalities and your possibilities to be part of AFD.

13th of October, 19.30-21.00

Drift 25, room 103

Enthusiastic and internationally oriented students from different backgrounds with an interest in social entrepreneurship and sustainable development.



Gemeente Utrecht, Startup Utrecht, SnappCar and EBU bring together the most important companies, institutions and facilitators in Utrecht. “Celebrating Grownups” is about fostering the Utrecht scaleup and startup ecoystem, sharing our experiences and getting to know each other.
17:00 Opening – SnappCar
17:15 Speed Dating
18:30 Key Notes
18:30 Hein Roelfsema
18:50 Leen Zevenbergen
19:10 Alexander Klöpping
19:30 Announcements & Signings
Announcement challenges city of Utrecht, Mobility from the user’s point of view: market search.
More information will be available at the end of September.

19:45 Drinks
Sign up: https://www.eventbrite.nl/e/tickets-celebrating-grownups-27568719783

NS and ProRail are looking for startups to make stations sustainable

The Netherlands has approximately 400 train stations. Busy nodes in a hub on the journey from door to door. NS and ProRail want to make the stations even more sustainable, considering how energy is consumed, how waste is processed and how people connect with one another. Does your startup offer a potential solution? Are you the next partner of NS/ProRail? Register now before Oct 13 to enter the Green Hub matchmaking at UtrechtInc.

Internship at Cart-Tech

CART-Tech is a spin-off company of the department of cardiology of UMC Utrecht (see www.cart-tech.com) and is developing its CARTBox medical software technology mainly to improve the efficacy of high-end pacemaker placement for a subset of patients with heart failure. CARTBox uses input from a combination of standard diagnostic modalities such as MRI and CT.We are looking for an intern, preferably with a medical or technical background, to perform market research. The main aim will be to establish what combination of diagnostic information is required by our (end)customers and/or potential partners (the companies that market pacemakers) and what the cost implications are of the various imaging strategies for our product.
Research methods:
1. Design of questionnaire
2. Interviews (cardiologists and radiologists)
3. Interactions with the main pacemaker companies (Boston Scientific, Medtronic, St, Jude)

Start of project: Oktober 2016

Applications to be sent before the end of October to:
Paul Leufkens
CART-Tech B.V.
Padualaan 8
3584 CH Utrecht
Mobile: +31 6 53857763
Web: www.cart-tech.com
E-mail: paul.leufkens@cart-tech.com

Terugblik Crossover Challenge 2016


Afgelopen 2 juni was de finale van Crossover Challenge, een initiatief van Entrepreneurship @HU. De Crossover Challenge is een businesscasewedstrijd waarbij het niet alleen draait om geld verdienen, wat te besteden is aan de realisering van het opgezette bedrijf, maar ook het creëren van maatschappelijke impact. Tijdens deze wedstrijd hebben de teams bijna een half jaar gewerkt aan het ontwikkelen van hun bedrijf en zijn zij door verschillende rondes heen gekomen. Vijf teams streden in de finale nog een keer om de titel voor het publiek en voor de jury door een pitch te geven. De teams maakten daarmee kans op geldbedragen en de publieks prijs.unnamed (3)


BEP, een app die de zorg aan de allochtone zorgvrager verbetert, won de hoofdprijs van €10.000. De tweede plek ging naar Carto, een app voor communicatie tussen inwoners en inwoners met de gemeente, met een bedrag van €6500. De derde plek ging naar Kartent, een (festival)tent van karton, met een bedrag van €3500. De publieksprijs is gewonnen door Movemat, videogames met fysieke beweging samengebracht in een mat gericht op immobilisatie.

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Voor meer informatie over de Crossover Challenge en de winnaars, check de website.


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