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Durf Ondernemen, Ghent University
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Durf Ondernemen, Ghent University


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  • Let me start by introducing myself. I’m Jolien Coenraets and in 2012 I graduated at Ghent University as an engineer in Computer Science. During my studies I started a company called G-flux, in which we create web- and smartphone solutions for healthy people. When I graduated I started working part-time in my own company.

    My other part-time job is being a teaching assistant at Ghent university where I assist two software engineering courses in which students can turn their ideas into prototypes. I also try to help promote the Dare to venture program to our students and stimulate them to become more entrepreneurial.

    In my spare time, which is rather limited, I’m a board member and volunteer at yieha!, which is a youth organization for people with and without disabilities.
  • I’m from Belgium, a rather small country located in the heart of Europe. Were famous for several things such as the Smurfs and Tintin, our Belgian beer, French fries, our chocolate and Brussels Sprouts. Several legendary people lived in Belgium such as the painter René Margritte and the cyclist Eddy Merckx. Our capital Brussels is also the capital of the European Union.
  • Most of the people in Belgium are risk-averse and would rather go work for a company than start one themselves. This often results in a wrong image of entrepreneurs.

    When Belgians think about entrepreneurs, they would think about a 40 year old man in a business suit which is either extremely rich if he was lucky or extremely poor if he wasn’t. One of our famous entrepreneurs is Marc Coucke, CEO of Omega-Pharma which is known for its cycling team.

    Luckily this image is changing since several young people are becoming a successful entrepreneur too. Many Belgians have already heard about Dries Buytaert, the founder of the open-source website framework Drupal. These young entrepreneurs are twenty-something males and rather dress casually than wearing a business suit. Unfortunately, many people think that you have to go to the USA before your business can really grow.

    These stereotypes are wrong and we want teach students that they can become an entrepreneur too.
  • Enough about Belgium, let me introduce my hometown Ghent. Ghent is one of the large cities in Belgium and is the biggest student city with about 68 000 students in higher education.
  • There are several higher education institutions in Ghent but Ghent University is the oldest and largest. More than 34 000 students are subscribed to our university. It was founded in 1817 and has grown organically since then. That’s why the different university locations are spread over the city.
  • The government of Ghent is aware of the need for starters and they have an active starters policy. Each year, they organize a competition to find the best student-entrepreneur in Ghent.
  • So lets talk about how we stimulate entrepreneurship in our graduates. It’s easiest to tell by giving an example.
  • G-flux, my own company which I started with some fellow students, was founded during my time at Ghent University and this thanks to the ‘Dare to Venture’ program.

    During the first semester of my first master year, I had to come up with an original idea and create a small businessplan for it. My colleague student Wim and I started to contact different organizations and companies to create a realistic businessplan and soon these companies thought that we would actually start this business. The idea was to make a software platform to create recreational GPS applications in a cheap and fast way. At the end of this semester. ‘Dare to venture’ was started and thanks to this program I could create a prototype of the software during a course in the second semester. I convinced 4 other students to join in with Wim and me, and we eventually became the founders of G-flux and are all still active in it nowadays.

    We had a lot of fun working on our own project instead of projects proposed by the teachers assistants and we achieved great results at the end of the semester. We decided to go on with our plans and I started a dissertation related to the software technology we were using for G-flux. We worked for G-flux next to our normal classes but we didn’t mind, we liked doing it. At the end of our second master we graduated and Kenneth started working for G-flux full-time and I did part-time. We had created our own jobs.

    If we wouldn’t have been able to create the prototype during the course, we would have never started our company because it was too much work to do it next to our classes. But if you can use your idea in one of the mandatory classes, these classes become much more attractive and you save a lot of time.
  • Within Dare to Venture our ambitious goal is to teach entrepreneural skills to students. A lot of them will not be interested in becoming an entrepreneur but they will still benefit from these entrepreneural skills. Some of students will actually start a business, but rather a small one. Other ones will start a growing business, which might go international. And once in a while there might be a student that founds a company that is an instant hit.
  • To make this approach possible we need three groups of people to cooperate.

    Ghent university has to provide facilities to make these courses and projects possible, professors have to stimulate the students by talking about the subject and teaching the entrapreneurial skills and students have to invest time in starting their own business.
  • Our approach consists of four parts:
    We start with technopreneurial courses, which are courses in which you learn something technical while you learn how to do this yourself and you can use your own idea. This is the course in which we developed our prototype and for us this was of crucial importance.
    We also stimulate intrapreneurship via various courses. Intrapreneurship is about learning entrepreneurial skills and know how to start new products or projects within the company you work for. All the employers benefits from graduates who have these skills.
    Of course we stimulate entrepreneurship as well with some dedicated courses about this subject
    We also offer extracurricular activities for the students who are really planning to start their own company so they can meet each other.
  • We created a special statute for student-entrepreneurs which gives them extra advantages such as flexibility to replace group work by an individual exercise or to move examinations. The students can make use of meeting spaces and can be coached by Steve who works for this program fulltime. They can make use of the network of the university and contact professors or assistants to ask for guidance in their project.

    To receive the statute they need to fulfill certain criteria so it also serves as a proof that they are not just fooling around but are serious about starting their own business.

    It’s important to know that we arranged that the student keeps his IP if he works on or starts his own project during classes.
  • This slide shows some numbers about the people who have received the statute since its beginning in 2011. The numbers are increasing each year but we still have some work to do.
  • I mentioned that we offer courses specifically for students interested in starting their own company. The course trajectory consists of four courses that can be chosen freely by the students. The first two courses are theoretical courses and deal with certain things you need to know such as business models and finance.

    The next two courses are project courses in which students can work on their idea. These courses will help them to actually start their business.
  • During the other courses at the university we teach intrapreneurship by teaching softskills like creativity, working in team and dealing with failure. Besides these softskills we stimulate them to work on real-life projects, for example by finding their own idea to work on during the course, by working on projects of fellow student-entrepreneurs or by working on real-life business cases.
  • During the other courses at the university we teach intrapreneurship by teaching softskills like creativity, working in team and dealing with failure. Besides these softskills we stimulate them to work on real-life projects, for example by finding their own idea to work on during the course, by working on projects of fellow student-entrepreneurs or by working on real-life business cases.
  • This trajectory has a strong international character. The hands-on courses are taught in English, students have the posibility to do an international internship. We participate in several international business plan competitions such as the Virginia Tech Knowledge Works Global competition and the students can attend several international seminars about entrepreneurship.
  • This trajectory has a strong international character. The hands-on courses are taught in English, students have the posibility to do an international internship. We participate in several international business plan competitions such as the Virginia Tech Knowledge Works Global competition and the students can attend several international seminars about entrepreneurship.
  • These are some of the companies and projects of students of Ghent University. Not every project needs to be a company, it can be an organization as well such as Belgians by Heart, an organization that wants to raise money to provide funding for disabled people who want to start a sports career.

    Believe in 3D is the project that participates in the VT Knowledge Works Global competition.
  • Next to the official channels, we also want to stimulate entrepreneurship by organizing extra curricular activities such as a kick-off and brainstorm session, an event to learn how to improve your pitching skills, several networking events and internal competitions. In order to select the project that would represent our university at the VT Knowledge Works Global competition, we organized an internal competition which BI3D won.

    Next to the events we organize ourselves, other organizations organize events for students too.
  • Each year there is an event specifically for all the student-entrepreneurs in Ghent, organized by the city of Ghent in cooperation with the different higher education institutions. This year there was a pitch competition, there were workshops, speakers and afterwards there was a big networking event.
  • Jan-Willem Callebaut from BI3D, who will be pitching during this competition, won the pitch competition.
  • Ghent has its own startup weekend, which is not limited to students but there were a lot of students amongst the participants.
  • Our ambition is to stimulate even more students to start their own company and acquire the entrepraneurial skills. To achieve this we have to turn Dare to venture in a truly university-wide program.
  • At the moment Ghent University doesn’t have a business incubator for student entrepreneurs. These incubators can often speed up the development of the company so we would like to create one.

    We would like to improve our network so we can offer our students even more connections.

    Together with the city of Ghent and the other educational institutions our mission is to turn Ghent into Belgium’s start-up hub.
  • I hope you enjoyed my presentation. Feel free to contact me in case you have questions.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Ghent University - 2014
    • 2. Jolien Coenraets Ghent University - 2014 Graduated engineer computer science CEO of G-flux Teaching assistant at Ghent University Project manager at Durf Ondernemen
    • 3. Ghent University - 2014
    • 4. Entrepreneurs as seen by the Belgians  40+  Male  Business suit  Extreme rich or poor Ghent University - 2014 Marc Coucke CEO Omega-Pharma  20+  Male  Casual  Makes it happen in USA Dries Buytaert Founder of Drupal
    • 5. Biggest student city of Belgium 68 000 students 250 000 inhabitants 156,18 km² / 60,30 sq mi
    • 6. Ghent University Ghent University - 2014 Founded in 1817 11 departments 41 000+ students
    • 7. Ghent welcomes entrepreneurs Ghent University - 2014 2013 2012 2011 2014
    • 9. The history of G-flux at Ghent University Idea + businessplan 1st sem 10-11 2nd sem 10-11 Developing prototype Thesis on related subject Business development July 2012 Graduated & started G-flux Ghent University - 2014 1st sem 11-12 2nd sem 11-12 Within courses
    • 10. Our ambitious goal Ghent University - 2014
    • 11. Who are we? Ghent University - 2014 Me Steve Stevens Prof. Koen De Bosschere
    • 12. Approach at Ghent University Students Prof. UGent Ghent University - 2014 facilitate stimulate invest
    • 13. Approach at Ghent University Ghent University - 2014 Intrapreneurship Technopreneurship Entrepreneurship Extracurricular activities Start in real economy
    • 14. Student-entrepreneur statute Replace group work / labs Move exams Flexibility Meeting spaces Coaches Facilities Business connections Ask questions / guidance Network No fooling around UGent Quality Label Ghent University - 2014
    • 15. Student-entrepreneur statute Ghent University - 2014 0 5 10 15 20 Pharmacy Veterinary Bio-engineering Arts Sciences Psychology Law Political and social sciences Medicine Economy Engineering Student-entrepreneurs 2011-2013 2011 2012 2013
    • 16. Teaching entrepreneurship Daretostart (Leanlaunchpad) Dare to venture Introduction to entrepreneurship Introduction to business administration Ghent University - 2014
    • 17. Teaching intrapreneurship Teaching soft skills  Creativity  Communication  Work in team  Presentation skills  Handle failure Work on ‘real-life’ projects  Opportunity recognition  Find solution for problem  Projects of other students  Business cases Ghent University - 2014
    • 18. Technopreneurship for everyone Source:
    • 19. Technopreneurship for everyone Project goals  1 technopreneurial course in each STEM master degree (50+ degrees)  Engineering department  Bioengineering department  Sciences department  Develop test to measure entrepreneurial spirit  Based on: Out of the comfort zone teaching (L. Borbye) Role model: Computer science design course Ghent University - 2014
    • 20. International character  Dare to venture/start courses are taught in English  International internship  International business plan competitions  International seminars about entrepreneurship Ghent University - 2014
    • 21. Some student-entrepreneur companies Ghent University - 2014
    • 22. Extra curricular activities  Kick-off Dare to Venture  Pitch event  Networking events  Competitions  … Ghent University - 2014
    • 23. Ghent University - 2014 Student Ghentrepreneur Pitch competition Workshops Speakers Networking event For all students in higher education in Ghent
    • 24. Our ambitions for the future Ghent University - 2014
    • 25. Our ambitions for the future  Create a Ghent University incubator for the students  More connections, growing network  Ghent = Belgium’s start-up hub! Ghent University - 2014
    • 26. Questions? Send them to @JolienCoenraets Or talk to me! Ghent University - 2014