Projects to stimulate students into entrepreneurship Eureka, I do business (ECEF initiative) Mini company & Start Academy (Vlajo initiative, support by ECEF)
With the play “Eureka, ik onderneem” (in English “Eureka, I do business”), we promote entrepreneurship and the skills needed: having guts, taking risks, being responsible and developing self-esteem. The play is presented to students in the last year of secondary education in East-Flanders.
Three eccentric hosts go on an instructive adventure with the students with only one goal: within the hour they will set up a new business. They go through the entire foundation process and try to by-pass all possible traps. Afterwards ECEF presents inspiring testimonies of young entrepreneurs, who tell about the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of their newly established business, about the challenges, the obstacles, but above all about the good parts of being an entrepreneur.
Vlajo has also two inspiring activities, supported by ECEF:
Mini companies: in the last grade of secondary school, students are guided into setting up their own small business, and to run it during a certain period (from one semester to two years). The students have to determine their missions and targets, do market research, gather funds, write a business plan, organise shareholder’s meetings...
Start Academy: high school and university students with a business idea follow a series of webinars and workshops with a personal coach, in order to refine their plans. The final idea is pitched to a jury who chooses the best. The winner gets a nice start capital.
Of course there are many more coaching programs in East-Flanders.

Resources needed

€12K: development of the play (unique cost)
±10K/year: performance of 8 shows
±6.5K/year: personnel cost
60%: Flemish government and Vlaio
40%: partners, such as ECEF
Participation fees (€15/student)
12 ftes for all flemish Vlajo programs
Start Academy
1.5 fte

Evidence of success

Eureka reaches 1500 to 1800 students a year.
311 East-Flemish class teams set up their own mini company.
Last year 89 student teams (±3 students/team) participated in the Start Academy program.
A lot of start-ups and jobs were created, but exact numbers are hard because not all of the teams begin a business immediately after the program.
The numbers are even better when all the supporting programs in East-Flanders are included.

Difficulties encountered

Up to date topics
Target group: mostly technical schools participate, and not the more general disciplines
Finding external customers (not only friends, family)
Impossible to give sessions in Dutch ánd English (lack of human capital)
Elaborating online knowledge center & number of coaches

Potential for learning or transfer

We see some overlap in the learning potential for these initiatives. All in all the most interesting part is stimulating students during their entire school education to be creative and to develop their own talents. It gives them extra luggage for whatever future they choose: this can be as an employee or as an entrepreneur. For younger students this can be obtained by means of a playful coworking activity, for students in higher education it is interesting to link this with a competitive aspect. These initiatives aim to make entrepreneurship more accessible since a lot of young people in Flanders find it difficult to realise their own business: they need expensive coaching, they need a lot of start capital, they don’t find their way through all the administration. Thanks to this kind of coaching trajectories, students are far better prepared to realise their entrepreneurial dream.

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Main institution
European Council of East-Flanders
Prov. Oost-Vlaanderen,
Start Date
January 2005
End Date


Sarah Levecque Please login to contact the author.