Entrepreneurship 2.0

Deloitte and Vlerick team up to boost entrepreneurship

“An often-heard complaint is that there are not enough start-ups and too few that grow into sustainable profitable businesses. But actually, there’s been a significant increase in new ventures, with the emergence of a new form of entrepreneurship, often technology-based and innovation-driven,” says Nikolaas Tahon, Managing Partner at Deloitte Accountancy. “We want to understand the specific challenges they face in order to be able to support them more effectively”. This is the aim of Deloitte’s renewed partnership with us.

Dubbed Entrepreneurship 2.0, this new Prime Foundation Partnership will be embedded in our Centre for Entrepreneurship, where Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship Veroniek Collewaert and Research Associate Zoë Imhof will be the driving force behind the partnership’s initiatives. “We’ll be focusing on the next generation of young high-potential ventures,” explains Veroniek. “While the selection criteria still need some fine-tuning, we’ll most likely be looking at start-ups less than seven years old, with high growth potential, such as ventures that have attracted funding from VCs and business angels or that are active in life sciences, biotech, IT, etc.”

Map the challenges

Nikolaas: “Forty years ago we saw another entrepreneurial wave, but the issues and challenges facing today’s new high-potential ventures are different.” “So, we want to map and analyse these,” adds Veroniek. “How are roles assigned among co-founders and how is everyone rewarded? How do they attract key employees and how much do they pay them? What kind of business models do these young, high-potential ventures rely on? Who do they partner up with and why? To what extent do these ventures turn to alternative sources of financing, such as crowdfunding or bootstrapping? And so on.”

Become a reference

Ventures that participate in this research will get access to the results, enabling them to benchmark their approach against that of their peers. Veroniek: “In time we want this research to become a reference, an Annual Monitor if you like. We also plan to organise several round tables for selected young high-potential ventures. Each session will centre around one of the issues identified in the research, with a subject-matter expert presenting state-of-the-art best practices and the participants exchanging ideas and experiences. As well as building a community, these round tables will provide valuable input to ensure our research is as business-relevant as possible.”

Critical success factor

Why this focus on growth? Nikolaas: “In an increasingly globalised world, fast, sustainable growth has become a critical success factor. Organisations need to develop rapidly to be the first to launch a disruptive idea, to take market share, develop market leadership and then consolidate it. And the speed with which an organisation can grow is determined by its financing, its ability to attract key talent, etc. Exactly the issues we’ll be looking at.”

Long-standing reputation

Like us, Deloitte has earned a reputation for nurturing and supporting entrepreneurship. Nikolaas explains how the partnership ties in seamlessly with Deloitte’s business strategy: “For several years now we’ve been organising the Deloitte Technology Fast50 competition, nominating a selection of the 50 fastest-growing technology companies in the Benelux. The Fast50 award goes to the fastest grower, based on its percentage of growth in turnover during the last five years. There’s also an award in the Rising Star category, for companies that have been active in the sector for less than five years. And there’s more: this year we launched theDeloitte Innovation Centre to provide intensive coaching for new ventures. The research undertaken as part of our partnership will enable us to offer even better support.”

Next steps

Veroniek: “The first round table is expected to take place in Q1 next year and we plan to present a first set of research results a year from now. Next year’s Fast50 award ceremony would be a great time to do that.”

The successful relationship between Deloitte and Vlerick goes back many years, yielding valuable results. Nikolaas is looking forward to the outcome of this partnership: “Combining research, knowledge exchange and community-building opportunities: it’s the ideal format to realise our shared ambition of boosting entrepreneurship and contributing to the development of the Belgian economy.”