Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen and the Alfa-college hosted the E-COOL Interreg Europe conference on Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 of November in the city of Groningen in the Northern Netherlands. With ten European partners visiting Groningen to learn from and to stimulate each other how to jointly change the entrepreneurial attitude of young people in the region.

The first day of the seminar started with a warm welcome of Rob Verhofstad, member of the Executive Board of Hanze University of Applied Sciences followed by the words of Jurgen Grobeé, regional director of the Alfa-college in Hardenberg. The two institutions from the Northern Netherlands, Hanze UAS and the vocational educational training school Alfa-college, work closely together in the E-COOL project. “The collaboration and cooperation between vocational and higher education ensures that the entrepreneurial attitude of students increase.” Says Alexander Grit of the Professorship Entrepreneurship in Transition of Hanze UAS and the Alfa-college.

Entrepreneurial mindset in the Northern Netherlands 

After the introduction two inspirational speakers talked about initiatives to enhance young entrepreneurship in the region. Jan Pleis of GOOE The Northern Startup Scene shared how he, in his spare time, had started his business after he found out that there were no opportunities in his region where entrepreneurs or student starters could meet. Jan creates an event four times a year where starting entrepreneurs can pitch their ideas to investors: “I see it as my job to help the people in my region.”

Johannes Wolters of Lode Holding BV, started by asking the question ‘How can we prepare regional student starters for their next step?’ Johannes claims that the triple helix is rather important in the process of preparing student starters. But we also have the responsibility to prepare student starters regarding how to prepare and apply for funds.

E-COOL partners tell the story of their region

In the afternoon the partners of E-COOL presented the initiatives and good practices from their region and this was continued on Thursday morning:

The last presentation of the morning was from Immo Dijkma. He is one of the founders of the Design Factory and he shared their concept and the programmes on developing an entrepreneurial mindset offered to students, co-workers and other interested parties.

Visit to a playground for entrepreneurship

Towards the end of the afternoon the group visited the former sugar factory terrain. This terrain has become a playground for educational, industrial and social experience. The group got off at Van Wijnen, a building company. They developed an experimental living lab to test the energy use of houses that can be built in only one day. The day ended with Sjoerd Pool, program leader at the sugar terrain, who told about his activities and connections with the agricultural sector and students. The partners also met student entrepreneur Michiel Bergsma from Alfa-college and Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen. He is currently graduating for his bachelor degree with his own bicycle shop. He introduced the group to his future bicycle shop and concept.