In any business school you’ll come across three main types of student. First of all you have the Scientist, the kind of student that is primarily interested in the theoretical aspects of business and economy, how stocks go up and businesses go down and their influence on society changes and such. Then you have the Ladder Climbers, the ones whose goal is to finish college, get into a good company and climb the ladder gradually until they find a spot in the corporate hierarchy that they feel comfortable with. This is pretty much the standard business student. And finally you have the Entrepreneur, the ones who just want to be their own boss, start their own company and go on adventures.
While it easy to fathom in which way and to what level universities accommodate the first and second types of students, for Entrepreneurs it is obscure and somewhat questionable.
An immense number of business students dream of one day being their own boss, a full fledged entrepreneur, a true captain of industry. However it takes a bit more than just putting on a nice suit, coming your hair to the side and calling your friends by their initials. It takes (to name just a few things), technical expertise, access to equipment, knowledge of the market and most importantly funding. Entrepreneurship.
Fiscal lawyers and starting entrepreneurs in the Netherlands all reported more or less the same thing: that the Netherlands does not accommodate new businesses and entrepreneurship as well as countries like the U.S.. Other than some fiscal legislation allowing start-up firms discounts on taxes and deferred payment of said taxes for a maximum period of 5 years, the Dutch government does little to stimulate start-up businesses with low start-up capital. Furthermore, there is the legislative deterrent of knowing that if you were to go bankrupt in Holland, the penalty is a 3 year block on starting any new companies.
However according to Mirjam LeLoux who runs the student entrepreneurship department at the UvA, if you have an idea and the will to see it through, UvA, along with the Amsterdam Centre for Entrepreneurship (ACE), will provide you with what you need to get off the ground.
ACE, whose headquarters are situated at the UvA Science Park, provides young entrepreneurs with minors which help them set up their company. If ACE believes your concept is business related and of educational value, they will set you up with a team of technical and creative students. This team, with you at the helm, will be tasked with realising your concept and introducing it to the relevant market. ACE often organises events for business students at the UVA and HvA and holds many competitions with prizes like a financial reward of €10.000.
As well as technical products and services, the ACE and UvA also welcome ingenious new business formulas and strategies for those who do not wish to introduce a new product to the market, but perhaps a new and more efficient way of doing something. Still, the question remains: to what extent do the UvA, ACE and other organisations facilitate students who want to start a company? In the end, 3% of students are business owners and it’s unknown how the aforementioned facilities contributed to this percentage. In the articles which follow, I will discover in detail how the UvA provides students with the means to realise their dreams of leading their own company, what the steps to doing so are; what facilities are available, what organisations are involved, which companies have started-up through these resources and whether it counteracts the state legislation which according to many crushes the spirit of entrepreneurship within the Netherlands.