Students working on starting up their own business need a place on campus where their initiative can flourish, says the student council. And they have already identified the perfect location.
In Wageningen ‘secretly quite a few students’ are actively interested in entrepreneurship, thinks student council member Simone Ritzer of VeSte. Their activities vary, she says, from attending KLV drinks parties to actually starting up small businesses. Nevertheless, the number of start-ups in Wageningen this year can be counted on the fingers of one hand, says Peter van Leeuwen, third-year student of International Land and Water Management and representing the student board this year on Climate-KIC, a special course on entrepreneurship. ‘Whereas I am absolutely sure there is plenty of potential here in Wageningen. The reason it doesn’t get off the ground, if you ask me, is that entrepreneurship is not part of the degree programmes. For many teachers it is practically a dirty word.’
A special location for start-ups could help to change this, the students think. They have already found one contender. The Triton building behind Zodiac will soon be vacant. It is not suitable for creating teaching space but according to Simone it would be ideally suited to providing an experimental space for working out interesting business ideas, building prototypes and sharing experience and know-how. ‘Students working on developing their own business don’t need much more than that.’ As a start, students on Climate-KIC will get their own workshop there, called Greenhouse.
A student business development centre would attract students who have at some point toyed with the idea of starting up their own business, thinks Peter. ‘There is a Facebook group of enterprising Wageningen student, with 124 members. In a development centre they could take the next step.’
Simone: ‘Of course the university is already doing various things in the area of entrepreneurship. Climate-KIC is one good example of that, and KLV and StartLife are geared to entrepreneurship too.’ But the student representatives feel that these initiatives are not close enough to students.
According to Simone, the university responded positively to their ideas. The department of Education, Research & Innovation and Facilities & Services will be writing to the executive board advising making Triton a development centre for students with a serious business plan. The executive board will make a decision on this at the end of the year.