VentureLab North: from idea to successful business

Dreaming of your own startup? Found that golden egg or unicorn of an idea? VentureLab North offers startups, entrepreneurs and companies an environment where all the ingredients for success are readily available. An environment in which you are in constant contact with people who can help your company move forward and in which participants inspire and encourage each other to explore new frontiers.

The success of a company requires more than a great idea. Factors such as a sound business model, access to markets and capital, the right contacts and personal and team skills determine over eighty percent of the final outcome. VentureLab’s one-year business development program equips you with the right set of tools to achieve your ambitions.

VentureLab supports both start-ups and established companies in turning their ambitions for growth into reality. It doesn’t matter whether you are still in the initial stages or whether your business has been around for decades.

From pilot to full acceleration program

VentureLab International initially started at the University of Twente. “Professor Aard Groen wanted to set up a program to teach students entrepreneurial and business skills, because he noticed a lot of the startups there didn’t reach their full potential and remained small, despite of their great ideas”, Aniek Ouendag, VentureLab North’s manager explains.

“When Aard became Professor of Entrepreneurship and Valorization at the University of Groningen and Dean of the university’s Centre of Entrepreneurship in 2013, he also set up VentureLab North and we started our pilot program at the end of 2014”, Aniek continues. “We’ve just started this year’s acceleration program and we currently have 20 startups and companies enrolled in the program.”

Personal coaching and a big network

So who can join the acceleration program? “Really anyone”, Aniek says. “It doesn’t really matter what stage you’re in. Whether you only have a great idea, already are running a business or have plans to go international, we can help with personal coaching, 70 courses to choose from and introductions to the right people. Our only criterion is that you are ambitious. If you plan to run a small business from home and don’t feel like taking that to the next level, this program just isn’t for you.”

Right now, VentureLab has three programs: Energy, Health and the standard program. They provide you with your own personal coach, who looks at your strengths and skills. “Maybe your idea needs a little tweaking, or maybe you have difficulty setting up a business model around your idea. Our coaches look at what will help you most, and help you choose the courses you really need”, Aniek explains. “And we also have a big network, so we can also introduce you to the right people.”

“It’s all about helping people see what’s possible and how to get there”, Aniek continues. “Movit Sport is a great example of that. Harro Boven initially contacted us because he wanted to build an app. But with our help and guidance, it became so much more: a well thought out idea and a full fledged company, and the Groningen University Medical Center is now one of his partners, by offering a discount. And Sustainable Buildings was part of our pilot program. They had an amazing idea based on their PhD research, but didn’t really have the business skills to turn that great idea into an actual company. It’s really great to see how much people can grow in just one year and that they’re also doing really well now.”

This year’s new wave

The specific Energy VentureLab and VentureLab Health groups are possible because of collaboration with partners such as Energy Academy Europe, EnTranCe, EIT Health, Engie, Gasunie, Gasterra, Univeristy of Groningen, and Value050.

The startups in this year’s program are focused mainly on health and energy related business. The focus of business ideas covers a wide range of innovations, from sustainable and reusable energy solutions, to new drug development and improvement of diagnosis tools.

“We have some real gems this year”, says Aniek. “We’ve got someone with a new and innovative way to clean gas mains, for example. And a doctor still in medical training came up with a manner of measuring the levels of oxygen going in the lungs and the amount of CO2 that comes out.”

Startups and companies can enroll for the acceleration program in May and October this year. Curious about VentureLab North’s acceleration program? Check out their website: http://venturelabinternational.com/north/

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