TAKEOFFANTWERP aims to inspire, inform and support students (and youth) to develop entrepreneurial skills or start up a business.
TAKEOFFANTWERP started off in December 2014. The Association of University and University Colleges Antwerp decided to hire a venue to stimulate student entrepreneurship among their students. At that time, the city of Antwerp decided to support this goal to see more young entrepreneurs starting in Antwerp. TAKEOFFANTWERP provides a coworking place and tries to build a community where initiatives come together and student/young entrepreneurs meet up.
Before TAKEOFFANTWERP there was no cooperation between the city, the chamber of commerce and het higher education institutes. Among the latter, only one university college had an entrepreneurial programme. Since the collaboration more entrepreneurial programmes have been developed and some joint events are organised.
The cooperation between the higher education institutes also bridges different study domains. Students with various backgrounds meet up leading to innovative ideas to tackle societal challenges.
To elaborate the success of TAKEOFFANTWERP European and regional subsidies are granted. TAKEOFFANTWERP_ALLIANCE was set up and a youth organisation, Kavka, and a student organisation, SINC, took part of the steering committee. With this extra funding and extra partners the project reaches a bigger target group, not only students but all youngsters.
TOA is funded by the city of Antwerp and the Associaton of university & university colleges. The resources consist of 40.000 € /year and 1.3 FTE . TOA_ALLIANCE receives 500.000€ shared between The European Regional Development Fund (40%), The Flemish government (30%) and the local partners (30%).
Evidence of success
Firstly, connecting allows all partners to get to know one another. Before there was a lot of fragmentation and ignorance. Joining up enables cooperation and efficiency. A local authority can be the matchmaker by keeping up an overall view of all stakeholders.
By connecting with a student organisation, the project reaches the target group and the activities are more tailor made.
By scaling up the project offers a platform with a broader dimension than every single partner.
At first only the Association and the city of Antwerp had dedicated people working on the project. The extra funding gave leverage to get all partners more involved. The project must be recognized on a strategic level within every partner. It is the only way to anchor it and make it sustainable.
Potential for learning or transfer
TAKEOFFANTWERP started off as a platform for student entrepreneurship. Due to the extra funding new partners came on board and the target group is more elaborate. The project (now called TAKEOFFANTWERP_ALLIANCE) now focuses on all youngsters in Antwerp between the age of 18 and 25 yrs. To reach them, as well as the students, the project also identified an intermediate target group, consisting of teachers, staff and youth workers. On this last matter, the project is looking for regional collaboration and has therefor applied for a project in the Erasmus+ programme (Knowledge Alliance).
The type of partners involved – students, the chamber of commerce, the university, university colleges, a youth organisation and the local authority – could also be implemented in other student cities.