Entrepreneurship is of vital importance to the economy, as well as to society as a whole. Yet Belgium had just 9.3 starters per 1,000 residents in 2020, and we’re also a country dominated by micro-companies (95.1%). Just 920 fast-growing businesses are responsible for 52,779 new jobs. So, relatively few businesses grow quickly, not to mention sustainably. What’s more, 79% of entrepreneurs say they lie awake worrying about the healthy continuation of their business, rather than growth in turnover, profit and shareholder value.
This can and must improve. That’s why Vlerick Business School is launching the Vlerick Entrepreneurship Academy, a connected ecosystem designed to stimulate entrepreneurship in Belgium and Europe by offering support, but also by throwing down the gauntlet to entrepreneurs from both scale-ups and established SMEs with ambitions for growth. Through the strength of the community, the Vlerick Entrepreneurship Academy offers an answer to every entrepreneur’s question throughout their entire growth process.
Miguel Meuleman, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Vlerick Business School and Director of the Vlerick Entrepreneurship Academy, explains, “Historically speaking, Vlerick Business School has always been a breeding ground for growth-oriented entrepreneurship. Among our alumni are three unicorns (Collibra, team.blue and argenx), and more may soon follow. What’s more, business schools have an important role to play in the ecosystem of entrepreneurship and the creation of entrepreneurs. With the Vlerick Entrepreneurship Academy, we focus on the missing link between training, research and networking. On the one hand, we offer entrepreneurs academically-underpinned frameworks. On the other hand, they can explore the lessons learned in greater depth and discuss them with a strong but above all high-calibre community of fellow entrepreneurs, supplemented by academics and experts from practice who professionally facilitate the dialogue. Our Entrepreneurs in Residence community is an important part of this.”
The Vlerick Entrepreneurship Academy wants to give entrepreneurship a boost in Belgium and Europe by supporting entrepreneurs throughout the various growth phases of their business. Too few businesses with genuine growth potential actually grow in practice because of a lack of organisational and managerial skills. But also because of a lack of courage and support. The Vlerick Entrepreneurship Academy seeks to influence this, on the one hand with training and expertise, and on the other hand by uniting entrepreneurs as sounding boards for one another.
Professor Miguel Meuleman explains, “Growing your business is an exciting journey. Thrilling at times, but often uncertain and lonely too. It doesn’t matter what phase of your journey you’re in – growing, upscaling or sustainably continuing to grow. From the moment your business idea has matured sufficiently and you have your first product-market fit behind you, we’re ready to guide you through your growth spurt.”
The second cornerstone of the Vlerick Entrepreneurship Academy is a highly connected ecosystem. The Academy’s focus on uniting entrepreneurs – whether they are leading a scale-up or a classic SME – allows them to reinforce and learn from one another, about growing, about falling down and getting back up again, and also about carrying on. Thanks to the power of the community, they can co-create, inspire and support one another throughout their growth process. That ecosystem is further reinforced by the rich knowledge, experience and coaching of professionals, policymakers and academics.