Transforming ideas into successful businesses

Britta Driessen went from an intern at Novio Tech Campus (NTC) to the position of business coach at the Radboud University (RU) in Nijmegen. As a business coach and programme manager at RU’s entrepreneurship programme Mercator Launch, Britta focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship. For example, she helps innovative start-ups to turn ideas into viable products, expand their network, finance their business, and acquire all skills needed to create a successful business. She does so in collaboration with regional partners of Briskr.

During her masters in Medical Biology, Britta discovered her passion for innovation. “I was doing research in a lab at UMC Utrecht. I ended up in an interdisciplinary department, with biologists, chemists and mathematicians working together daily to develop new applications to improve quality of life. That is when I discovered what innovation really looks like at a knowledge institution, and what it truly means: creating practical solutions to societal challenges, such as a 3D printing tissue to repair cartilage defects. This piqued my interest.”

In 2016, Britta, who specialised in Management & Innovation, performed an internship at NTC. She talked to many companies about their intended success and the contribution of a campus like NTC to this success. “These organisations contribute to entrepreneurs’ chances of success because they help with practical matters such as facilitating space and connecting you with like-minded people. Ultimately, I ended up doing just that at Radboud University: helping entrepreneurs find their way and create impact. By supporting and stimulating entrepreneurship, we aim to create societal impact with the knowledge generated at our university.”

Building a business concept

There is an incredible amount of talent to be found at the Radboud campus, says Britta: “Many researchers, students and alumni have great, innovative ideas that they would like to act on. We support them in building on their business concept, both substantively and practically. We train and coach entrepreneurs and organise workshops and masterclasses to improve their entrepreneurial skills. Furthermore, we offer workspaces, grant access to a large network and help start-ups towards funding.”

“Simply put, we provide all the tools and methods to benefit entrepreneurs for a lifetime. Even if they eventually choose not to pursue this path, entrepreneurial competencies such as flexibility, market knowledge and presentation skills are always of added value. In that sense, we offer a skills training programme to create impact.”

Cooperation within the region: Briskr and the Radboud University

Supporting entrepreneurs in the early phases of their innovative business is not a solo project. “Of course, we don’t have all the expertise in-house. That is why we collaborate with other organisations in the area and make use of all the knowledge they have to offer”, Britta explains. “Within Briskr, we share and discuss the Health and High Tech start-ups we support. Partners can improve and accelerate the support, by sharing the start-ups and challenges they face, and by providing their knowledge, expertise and network”.

As an example, Britta paints a picture of an entrepreneur who had largely established his business concept. “To be honest, we couldn’t provide him with the support that he needed. So, we reached out to Briskr, and the participant found his place in another programme of one of Briskr partner meetings, more specifically, the Market Readiness Program of OostNL. Now, he receives the most optimal support for his start-up phase.” But that is not the only way Briskr and the Radboud University complement each other. “For example, we offer masterclasses together on topics that are important and relevant to our start-ups. We are stronger when we join forces. And this way, we get to learn from each other, too.”

Helping starting entrepreneurs get the best out of themselves and their idea is what makes Britta happy. “If we support entrepreneurial spirits to reach their full potential, great things will happen.”