Maastricht University (UM) is bustling with sharp minds eager to apply their knowledge and creativity to real-world challenges, and businesses and organisations can tap into the fresh insights of these students by participating in the UM PREMIUM programme.
Via this honours programme, regional companies, governmental organisations and NGOs have an opportunity to work with excellent masters’ students from a range of disciplines on a real-life cases related to their business. Every year, approximately 200 UM students are selected to participate in the programme.
How it works
Businesses decide on a project or challenge and teams of up to six students from various disciplines invest considerable time to the project over the span of three or four months—providing 450 to 900 hours of free advice.
Participating businesses are expected to guide students through the process, supervising and assessing their progress and working with them approximately four hours per week.
Benefits to companies and students
The programme benefits both companies and students, and has, according to the UM School of Business and Economics (SBE) PREMIUM programme coordinator Dominik Mahr, led to some long-term working relationships, internships and new business opportunities. “It is a chance for students, but also for businesses to scout new talent, get a multidisciplinary analysis of a problem and get input from motivated and talented students,” Mahr says.
New business ventures emerge
Matt Williams, who graduated from the UM Faculty of Law in 2014, is currently working together with Mikos Pieters, Communications Advisor at Council Registry of the City of Maastricht, to launch startart.eu, a foundation that will manage crowdfunding campaigns for the arts in Euregion.
Their business plan grew from Williams’ participation in the UM PREMIUM programme last year, for which Pieters was the client. Williams was part of a team of students from four different countries and four separate disciplines, including psychology and neuroscience, business and economics, law and the arts and social science (the team is pictured here with client Pieters [left] and then-student Williams [right]).
“The objective of the PREMIUM project was to construct a business plan for a reward-based crowdfunding platform operating in the Euregion Meuse-Rhine in the field of the cultural and creative industries,” Williams says. “And now, Mikos and I are looking to implement the business plan and develop the concept.”
Sharpening ideas with student input
“Through PREMIUM, I’ve had the chance to adjust the concept and sharpen my ideas,” Pieters says. “The potential of Maastricht University and its students are of major importance to the success of my cross-border crowdfunding platform.”
Pieters and Williams plan to continue working with the PREMIUM programme to take their business plan to the next level. “We have just embarked on a new PREMIUM round with four students who will be charged with developing a long-term financial plan and a marketing strategy for the platform,” Williams says. “During this round, we are also hoping to begin our test phase, and if it is successful, we will then launch the platform comprehensively across the Euregion.”
Finding solutions by asking your target audience
The knowledge and innovation programme of the Statistics Netherlands (CBS) also participated in a PREMIUM project last year. The aim was to find a way to make young people interested in statistics.
The students were tasked with brainstorming the question: “How to reach Generation Y?” The winning solution was an app that integrates with social media and encourages users to think about facts. It contains provocative questions and disproves myths to make users more aware of fact checking.
The quiz app was part of a larger package of innovative ideas that were devised by the winning team, including the idea to use QR codes in the free Dutch newspapers Metro and Spits, for readers to have access to the in-depth information of CBS. (The winning team is pictured at left with CBS CEO Tjark Tjin-A-Tsoi [right])
With this project, the students also provided the insights of potential customers. “One of the best things is that the students themselves are part of the target group,” says Jacobiene van der Hoeven of CBS.
How your business can participate
Companies, businesses and other organisations wishing participate in PREMIUM or learn more about the programme should visit the website or contact Dominik Mahr at firstname.lastname@example.org.