6.7 Entrepreneurial Thinkers

Tilburg University is committed to entrepreneurship and strives to be a national leader in the field of social entrepreneurship. To this end, we encourage entrepreneurship, generate impact, and strive to combine an entrepreneurial spirit with a critical view of society.

The Entrepreneurship team is responsible for implementing start-up support and facilities, including the incubator and funding, community building, business development, and academic value creation. The team assists with knowledge transfer and intellectual property, collaboration in the region (e.g., with Midpoint Brabant, Station88, and Braventure) and with other educational institutions, and strengthening the ecosystem with other strategic collaboration partners.

By 2021, the IQONIC entrepreneurship program was expanded, and the network of students, scientists, alumni, and strategic partners has been expanded.

Academic entrepreneurship

Tilburg University has the vision to have a fundamental impact on society. With a world-class academic environment, we strive to improve that society. This vision was endorsed by the formalization of the KTO. By making connections and encouraging collaborations, the KTO helps and motivates our researchers and students, in addition to providing support for project and program development, with the goal of contributing to solving societal challenges.

With a variety of activities at different levels, we stimulate impact for scholars and the supporting ecosystem (e.g., by offering valorization programs for PhD graduates, establishing transparent policies around knowledge exploitation, or supporting individual scholars in their quest). The Steffie project is an excellent example. This scientifically validated AI avatar in the form of a chatbot helps people with low literacy make informed voting choices during political elections. The scientists Christine Liebrecht and Naomi Kamoen are working with the start-up Genius Voice from the IQONIC Incubator for the necessary speech technology. The project has received funding from the alumni fund and is receiving guidance from the business development and contract management services at the KTO.

Read the story of Genius Voice (photograph on the left)

Tilburg University Challenge

The second edition of the Tilburg University Challenge was held this year. This entrepreneurship competition is for students and PhD students who would like to make an impact in contemporary society. The online grand finale took place on December 9, 2021, when a total of 2,090 viewers voted for the audience award.

Participants in this second edition included 84 teams (353 students) and 31 partners (70 coaches).

Table 6.6.1 Key indicators for the Tilburg University Challenge










Workshops and events


Votes during the livestream finale


Global Entrepreneurship Week

Within the framework of Global Entrepreneurship Week, various events relating to entrepreneurship were organized in November for students, researchers, and alumni. More than 500 people registered for these events. The network of partners was expanded to 12.

Table 6.6.2 Key indicators for Global Entrepreneurship Week






Monthly entrepreneurship day

In 2021, the IQONIC program took the lead in organizing a joint monthly day dedicated to entrepreneurship, together with all of Brabant’s higher education institutions. Within this framework, successful Dutch entrepreneurs are asked a wide range of questions (Venture Visionaries) and start-ups can pose questions to experts from the business community (Expert Hours). This initiative will definitely be continued in 2022.

Start-up support

Eighty intake interviews were held between start-up students and the business developers of IQONIC. In addition, 46 intake interviews were held between researchers and the IQONIC business developers. Eleven start-ups were accommodated in the incubator. Six student entrepreneurs made use of the Dual Career provisions.

Table 6.6.3 Key indicators for Start-up support


Intake interviews with student and alumni entrepreneurs


Intake interviews with researchers and PhD students


Start-ups in incubator


Start-ups with dual careers