UniPartners Maastricht helps students to become knowledgeable “all-rounders”

UniPartners is a Junior Enterprise (JE), a non-profit research organisation run by students with the aim to connect academia and business.

The JE concept was created in Paris in 1967 and has since then spread out over the entire world.

In the Netherlands, UniPartners started in 1987 in Eindhoven and recently celebrated its 25th anniversary with 11 branches across the country.

UniPartners is present in each but two university cities and covers a wide range of academic fields. The Universities of Eindhoven and Delft, for instance, provide a specific technology-based education whereas Maastricht University is known for its problem-solving methodology.

UniPartners Maastricht was founded in 1991 with a special focus in ​​research fields such as market research, competitor analyses, customer satisfaction surveys, business plans.

Going cross border

Taking advantage of Maastricht’s cross border location, UniPartners Maastricht serves Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) not only in the south of the Netherlands but also in neighbouring Germany and Belgium.

As a non-profit organization, we can offer our clients an attractive price-quality ratio. We also abide by the ‘fixed price, fixed service’ principle, which means that the final price of a research project is clearly defined from the start and will not be altered during the course of the project.

UniPartners Maastricht consists of a team of eight board members who manage the entire organization. The board members are usually Bachelor or Master students nearing the end of their study track. Each board member fulfils a specific function within the organization in areas such as Human Resources, Finance, or International Affairs as well as project management roles in terms of contacts with clients and supervision of research quality.

Next to the board members Unipartners works with trainees and junior consultants. Trainees are usually second year students who join our organization for a semester. This allows them to become acquainted with the daily operations and to perform an internal project. As a result, trainees often grow into a board member function after their traineeship.

Junior Consultants perform the actual research for our clients and are the only students within UniPartners who receive a payment for the work performed.

Our goal is to offer highly performing students a chance to gain real-time experience through project-based research. Oftentimes in academia, researchers have a hard time forging a bridge between the abstract theory, devised by the university, and the hands-on business world.  UniPartners aims to be such a bridge.

UniPartners Maastricht is an academic consultancy firm affiliated with Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics, which grants us a convenient office in the school’s premises to run our operations. In contrast to what most outsiders believe, there is no financial link between UniPartners Maastricht and the university. Nor does the university perform any concrete supervision on our operations. Although one member of our Advisory Council is related to the university, the Council itself does not have any final say in the way we conduct our day-to-day business.

SBE does, however, play a pivotal role in our relationships with the SME Portal and the Alumni Office, for instance.

Market research project in Germany

In line with Maastricht University’s vision, we strive to be an internationally oriented and active enterprise and are particularly proud of the successful projects we have been running in the German market.

Our largest client is one of the most prominent European broadloom carpet manufacturers.  The company employs thousands of workers and boasts a revenue of nearly 800 million euros. UniPartners has been assigned to perform a market research on location in three German cities to assess German tastes with regards to broadloom carpet. In every city, a team of four students (three Junior Consultants and one Project Manager) will conduct face-to-face interviews for three days in a row with German end consumers in rented hotel space.

We will then assemble, process and analyze the retrieved information in order to obtain an as precise as possible picture of the German broadloom carpet market. We will collect all data, findings and conclusions into an end report for our client and will hold a final presentation at the client’s headquarters for their marketing and international managers.

Based on the feedback we receive from our clients, it is our experience that they proactively use and act upon the recommendations we provide. This is something that gives us a great deal of satisfaction.

UniPartners Maastricht featured in Dagblad De Limburger

Looking ahead

Although we entered the German market only a couple of years ago, we find it a very interesting and promising target. We feel that we can provide proficient research in the German market thanks to the many talented German students at Maastricht University. In addition to smoothing the transition into Germany for Dutch companies, our organization can offer German students the opportunity achieve personal development and involvement in business life by getting involved in Dutch companies. This is something which, in our opinion, is still lacking. There is little to no integration, especially between German students and Dutch SMEs.

Due to recent budget cuts in student subsidies, it is becoming harder to attract new members to our organization. We believe, however, that UniPartners can offer students an extremely valuable experience that cannot be acquired through books. Many of the UniPartners board members and Junior Consultants have landed promising positions at companies.

We also want to increase and strengthen our ties with the School of Business and Economics in particular, and Maastricht University in general. Many of our board members are active at faculty level or at the University Council. We want to be seen as an added value to Maastricht’s academic landscape. Through our professionalism and quality standards, we aim to create positive PR for business life in and around Maastricht and help students to develop themselves into knowledgeable “all-rounders’.

By Alessandro Ghitti

Alessandro Ghitti is General Manager of UniPartners Maastricht.

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