Fuelling entrepreneurship

TAKEOFFANTWERP is a working place for entrepreneurial students and a program that focusses on the development of competences related to entrepreneurship by students.

What is/was the challenge?

In 2013, at the beginning of this legislation, the City of Antwerp identified a decreasing number of startups and an increasing number of failures. To change this situation the local government emphasised the need for an entrepreneurial friendly environment. Therefore, several initiatives were taken to support startups in their first stage. In this context, the City of Antwerp chose to stimulate student entrepreneurship, in order to encourage more students to start a business after graduation.

At the same time, local higher education institutes acknowledged that an entrepreneurial/innovative mindset had become essential to face the challenges of the future. This necessity was also recognised on different policy levels, and multiple actions were taken to promote entrepreneurial and innovative higher education. Entrepreneurship gained a more critical role in the higher education institutes as a result. Moreover, students showed more interest in starting their own enterprises, and several institutes in Antwerp developed programmes in that domain.

Informed of these developments, the Antwerp University Association took the initiative to start a project on student entrepreneurship and stimulating entrepreneurial spirit among students. In 2014 the collaboration between the City of Antwerp and the Antwerp University Association was realised, and TAKEOFFANTWERP was launched.

What is the project?

TAKEOFFANTWERP started off as a collaboration between the Antwerp University Association and the city of Antwerp. These two driving forces set out the goals for the project and provided the financial resources for TAKEOFFANTWERP. The educational partners involved are the University of Antwerp, Artesis Plantijn University College, Antwerp Maritime Academy and Karel de Grote University College.

However, quite soon the project evolved into a broader collaboration where the Chamber of Commerce and the students were involved. TAKEOFFANTWERP is situated in the quadruple helix between the higher education institutes, the local government, business and society. This is reflected in the way the project is managed. The Antwerp chamber of commerce and the student organisation SINC (Students for Innovation and Cooperation) are not only the two driving forces but also members of the steering committee and active participants, and also determine the action plan of the project. The involvement of these partners is of vital importance for the success of the programme. Thereby the operation of TAKEOFFANTWERP is embedded in the thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem that has emerged in Antwerp during the last couple of years.

TAKEOFFANTWERP functions as a workplace for innovative and remarkable initiatives relevant to society, in which the student and his/her input are put at centre stage. The project-based way of working creates a closer relationship between the programme and the neighbouring student house, GATE 15.

The primary objective is to display Antwerp as a diverse student city with a broad variety of stimuli for the student, and an environment conducive to connections with many local companies, an international port, a thriving creative industry, a cultural sector, hospitals, etc., where imagination is a driving force.

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