Maastricht’s entrepreneurs unite: Looking back on recent entrepreneurial-focused events

This is the sixth in a new series of articles that will focus on the activities and accomplishments of the LaunchBase programme, an incubation platform of the Maastricht Centre for Entrepreneurship (MC4E). Composed out of two specific programmes, LaunchBase covers a comprehensive approach to business development.

12238447_1114489178563326_7675939994284875986_oIf you are interested in entrepreneurship, start-ups and the creative ideas of the population in and around Maastricht, the week of Monday, the 16 November was  loaded with interesting events relating to those topics.

The week was packed with interesting events, workshops and, most important, people.

It began on 17 November with the Local Hero Awards, an entrepreneurial competition launched by Maastricht University (UM) and the University Funds Limburg.

The following day, the Global Entrepreneurship Week kicked off with a Pitch Workshop held in the School of Business and Economics (SBE), followed by conference talks and networking events up into the late evenings. To round it all up, on Thursday, 19 November the Innovators Challenge took place, in which students gathered to tackle a bigger issue in a brainstorming session. Talks on topics such as renewable energies, the future of education and social entrepreneurship followed, and the event ended with a final networking drink in the St. Jan Church.

The Local Hero Awards
To foster entrepreneurial spirit, six young entrepreneurs were invited to compete for €10,000 of seed capital in the Local Hero Awards. The event kicked off with the opening speech of Jos Kievits, Director of the University Funds Limburg, followed by a presentation of the pitches of all participants’ projects.

12249929_1113586178653626_977806821401202575_n(1)Different teams with various backgrounds pitched their ideas, which ranged from sustainable office products over a food app to medical virtual reality applications. The first prize was taken home by Peekaboo, the medical virtual reality application, which converts ultrasound scans into virtual reality, which are projected on a head-worn device in order to give the wearer a real “first-time” encounter with her baby. The idea, which was partially developed and shaped in the pre-incubation Base phase of the LaunchBase programme, convinced the jury and earned the participants the seed capital.

Global Entrepreneurship Week
Wednesday continued with the Global Entrepreneurship Week in Maastricht, which started of with a Pitch Workshop held by Christoph Sollich, aka, The Pitch Doctor. Christoph is a freelance startup consultant specialising in business model generation, marketing and, obviously, pitching. Participants of the fully booked event, who represented several backgrounds, found the session very valuable, as it revealed the potential pitfalls of a pitch and guidelines for how to structure a pitch in front of potential investors.

Apart from the Pitch Workshop, the Innovators Challenge took place on Thursday as a big part of the Global Entrepreneurship Week. This year, Unicef hosted the challenge with the goal of solving complex company challenges with entrepreneurial solutions in an environment comparable to a Hackathon, in which creative and innovate students try to find a solution in a relatively short time.

The participants made use of their problem-solving skills, which most of them acquired in part during their studies at one of the faculties of UM, and several teams competed to win the challenge. The best solution was awarded to the Virtual Travel Community Geo Tracker, due to a conceptually strong idea that was based on actual customer insights.

Inspired minds
Several speakers gave interesting lectures, such as Fiona Jongejans, who spoke about “Starting a business as a social entrepreneur,” which perfectly aligned with the Innovators Challenge motto, “Do good by being great,” and summarized the opportunities and threats of social entrepreneurship. The conference talks lasted until the late evening, and all participants left the Global Week of Entrepreneurship with inspired minds and new ideas. Several young entrepreneurs of the first and second round of the Base program participated and the Local Hero Award, which was awarded to one of the ideas conceptualized during the first round, is further proof of the fruitful future of the program within Maastricht and Limburg.

Jonas Heller has been passionate about the entrepreneurship world since working in Berlin for Zalando, one of the fastest growing start-ups in Europe. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics (SBE) in 2012, and after 18 months in Berlin, he decided to follow an academic career and return to Maastricht for a Master’s degree in International Business, after which he hopes to pursue an academic career in the field of disruptive technologies. Still keeping abreast with all things entrepreneurial, Jonas writes and tweets frequently on the subject. You can follow him at Twitter.

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