At the beginning of March, the University of Antwerp welcomed nine high-potential start-ups from across Europe to participate in the YUFE Accelerator Programme.

This innovative programme provided the budding entrepreneurs from across the YUFE Alliance the opportunity to collaborate and share best practice, while challenging business assumptions and encouraging reflective practice.

Over three days, an international team of expert coaches guided participants through a series of workshops to equip them with the tools to boost their businesses and enhance their success. Workshops focused on key topics, such as understanding the customer journey, adopting tools to assess their business model, and preparing the perfect pitch.

Madalina-Daniela Mihailescu, founder of Hivemind Academy from the University of Essex, UK, said: “The Accelerator Programme was intense, but extremely valuable in supporting my business development.

“The next stage of my business plan is to launch a pilot for a training course I’m developing. The YUFE Accelerator Programme has boosted my confidence in preparing for this, having had the chance to participate in an interactive pitch deck and a marketing and branding workshop tailored to my business needs.”

The programme brought together start-up businesses from a range of sectors, from bioengineering and finance to education and digital marketing, to work collaboratively and enhance professional networks.

Jürgen Ingels, Founder and CFO of Clear2Pay and author of Start, Grow, Sell gave a keynote speech and was on-hand to answer questions and offer guidance to participants.

Mikołaj and Anna Borowska-Beszta, members of Technology for Mobile from Nicolas Copernicus University, Poland, said: “The programme allowed us to actively put learnt entrepreneurial theory into practice, by applying it to our business model canvas.

“It was particularly beneficial to have the opportunity to work with staff from other universities, to experience first-hand how they approach providing support to entrepreneurs and to receive an outside perspective on specific business challenges.”

The University of Antwerp, alongside YUFE colleagues, worked hard to create this innovative programme and add a European dimension to entrepreneurship education. The central focus being to broaden participant’s horizons and allow them to learn from others operating in different markets.

The legacy of this Accelerator Programme is the inaugural YUFE Start-up Community on LinkedIn, bringing together start-ups, spin-offs, Knowledge Transfer Managers, and academics to share experiences and follow one another’s entrepreneurial journeys.

Barbara Tan, from the University of Antwerp, said: “It was a truly inspiring experience to support entrepreneurial talent from a variety of industries and cultural backgrounds with their business development. I look forward to following their progression via the YUFE Start-up Community on LinkedIn.

As a coach, it was valuable to learn directly from YUFE colleagues and hope to assist in the organisation of future programmes at partner institutions.”