Masters in Innovation & Entrepreneurship: tested and approved!

Innovation is vitally important to businesses, more so than ever before. And entrepreneurship is in Vlerick Business School’s DNA. So it is only logical that we also offer a Masters in Innovation & Entrepreneurship. The very first group of students graduated this summer. The second group has just started the course. So it is a good time to meet up with the programme director, Professor Veroniek Collewaert, and evaluate the first year.

Masters in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Google

Why only now?

It won’t come as a surprise that Vlerick runs this course, but why hasn’t it existed for much longer? “Of course you can’t just set up a masters course like this overnight”, Veroniek smiles, “there is a lot involved. Incidentally, there were already all kinds of Vlerick courses that included innovation and entrepreneurship. But in recent years there has been a noticeable increase in students wanting to launch their own start-up or, for example, work in product development. And to stay incisive in today’s dynamic, not to say turbulent environment, businesses are increasingly emphatically in search of profiles with a background in innovation and/or entrepreneurship. In short, this was the right time to start a specialised course.”

Getting started faster

The Masters in Innovation & Entrepreneurship is aimed at anyone with a clear drive for innovation and/or entrepreneurship. “Whether you are already working in your own start-up, or in product development or innovation in a company, the processes you use to find out whether an idea is viable are the same. And you learn these processes during the start-up accelerator module, where you come up with and test your own idea for a start-up in a small group, coached by experienced entrepreneurs or investors.”

Of all the course modules, the start-up accelerator is probably the one that fires students’ imaginations the most, and this year we will be devoting even more time to it. “Students put a lot of time and energy into it anyway. To give them the space they need, we are going to start it in October instead of waiting until December.”

Even more specialisation

That slight adjustment to the accelerator module is not the only change to the course. “The Design Thinking module, an optional subject, could be taken by students in any masters programme. But because we feel it is such an essential skill for entrepreneurs and people in innovation-related jobs, we are going to reserve it exclusively for our Masters in Innovation & Entrepreneurship students from now on. It will be integrated into the start-up accelerator, where it will have a far more prominent place and be taught earlier in the year.”

There are boot camps in the spring, which are once again open to all masters students. “But this year we are going to organise a coding boot camp for the first time, and I am fairly sure it will appeal to our Innovation & Entrepreneurship students as well. Very many ideas for start-ups have something to do with IT and communications, but there are a lot of students who have never done any programming. We have quite a lot of ICT start-ups in Belgium and coding has become a scarce skill. That makes a boot camp like this, where they really learn programming, particularly valuable. Not that they become immediate experts, but it does get them started.”

Masters in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Facebook

Even more choice

And finally, it will be slightly easier to customise the course. “There will be a bit more freedom of choice. If you have an idea for a digital start-up, for example, you can take an optional course like Digital Strategy if you want to.”

The academic year traditionally ends with a two-month project in a company. “To begin with there were two options: working on your own start-up or on an innovation project at a larger company. At a certain point last year we decided to add a third possibility, which is to work on a project for an existing start-up. That was an option that was particularly popular with the students who had realised their idea wasn’t going to work but still wanted to stay in a start-up environment. So we are certainly going to keep these three formulas.

Essential basis from a different perspective

Besides the specific subjects covering various aspects of innovation and entrepreneurship, there are also general subjects such as strategy, financial accounting, operations management etc. that teach the basic skills every entrepreneur needs.

Some might see the general modules as a repetition, but Veroniek emphasises that this should not put people off. “My experience is that a bit of repetition does no harm. But what is more important is that we tackle the course material from a different angle: we take a hands-on approach with case studies, guest speakers etc. That is a completely different experience, even for people who have already studied the theory. That is also clear from the feedback we have received. There will not be any changes to the general subjects this year. We will simply be starting the specialised modules a little earlier, as I said.”

Coffee with Jeff Bezos

The other thing that will not be changed is the Silicon Valley Disruption Tour, which gives students a week-long opportunity to meet the world of Amazons and Googles, small start-ups and venture capitalists. “The main intention is to gather inspiration, and going on the reactions we receive, it is a real success. The trip was the high point of the masters year for more than half the participants.”

Voyage of discovery

Some alumni now have their own start-up (such as Securafin, Fusion or, and others came to the conclusion that their idea wouldn’t work or that their own business wasn’t for them. Others have jobs as innovation consultants. Veroniek is enthusiastic: “This masters degree helps you discover what is your thing and what isn’t, and whatever you decide, the experience is equally valuable. That is what is so great about it.” And she concludes: “The point is that each of the students learned something from it, and that is why we do it!”

Is the Masters in Innovation & Entrepreneurship for you? Be sure to take note of the next admission tests for the 2018-2019 academic year:
< Wednesday 15 November 2017 - Leuven
< Tuesday, 12 December 2017 - Brussels
< Wednesday, 21 February 2018 - Ghent 

See the details and curriculum of our Masters in Innovation & Entrepreneurship course.

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