SME Data Clinic Zuid-Holland Launch Event unlocks the power of data for Small Businesses

In a bid to bridge the gap between the status quo and what is possible for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with data science applications, the South-Holland SME Data Clinic was officially launched on Tuesday, 27 June. This collaborative effort between Erasmus University Rotterdam and Delft University of Technology aims to empower SMEs in the region by harnessing the power of data science techniques and propelling them towards a more data-driven approach.

The event saw Ed Brinksma, President of Erasmus University Rotterdam, take the stage to announce the commencement of the South-Holland SME Data Clinic. This exciting initiative seeks to unlock the immense value and economic benefits that data science can offer SMEs, enabling them to make informed decisions and compete effectively in the market.

One of the highlights of the event was the insightful keynote speech by Jos Maccabiani, Sr. Business Developer Digital Technology at InnovationQuarter. Maccabiani emphasized the critical role collaboration on data plays in adding value to SMEs. He emphasized that many small companies fail to utilize data effectively, resulting in a loss of competitive advantage. Maccabiani’s advice to SMEs was clear and concise: “Whatever you do…start digitalization today!”

The event also featured an engaging panel discussion titled “Power of Data: If your SME’s data could speak, what valuable insights and surprises would it share to guide your decision-making process?” The esteemed panel, consisting of industry experts, offered valuable insights and perspectives on leveraging data to drive business success. The discussion was expertly moderated by Maaike Blok, Project Manager at JADS MKB Datalab.

The panelists included Frits Corvers, Co-founder of Webtify and Chairman at Jong MKB Rotterdam Rijnmond; Stephanie Wagenaar, Board Member at TLN; and Bart Spée, Policy Advisor Digital Economy at Provincie Zuid-Holland. Each panelist brought a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities that data presents for SMEs, offering practical advice and examples from their respective fields.

The launch of the South-Holland SME Data Clinic marks a significant step forward in empowering SMEs with the tools and knowledge necessary to thrive in the digital age. By capitalizing on the latest data science techniques, these businesses can unlock new opportunities, make informed decisions, and create sustainable growth. 

As the event came to a close, attendees were left inspired and motivated to embrace the data revolution and unleash the power of data. What is next? Mark your calendars for the upcoming “Let’s Go Session” on November 6, 2023 and stay tuned for more details. 

BIG’R: Academics Creating Impact Through Research

In a world faced with pressing environmental and social challenges, organizations like BIG’R – Behavioral Insights Group Rotterdam – are leading the way in creating positive change. BIG’R is an impact center that combines scientific knowledge, behavioral insights, and practical interventions to make a significant societal impact. At BIG’R, their focus lies on conducting field experiments and studies to apply behavioral insights and scientific knowledge in practice. Inge Merkelbach, Managing Director of BIG’R, explains, “We try to make a positive societal impact with our scientific knowledge, our methods, and we use it by studying behavior and designing interventions, studying them in practice.” This blog dives into the journey of BIG’R, their challenges, successes, and shows how it is possible for academics to create impact through research.  

From collaboration to impact center  

Semiha Denktas, the academic supervisor of BIG’R, drew inspiration from the behavioral Insights team in London, UK, which was the first one to bring together municipalities, governments, and universities. Recognizing the potential benefits for a city like Rotterdam, with its challenges of poverty and great multiculturalism, Denktas saw an opportunity for a Behavioral Insights team. Thus, BIG’R emerged through a collaboration between the municipality of Rotterdam and Erasmus University Rotterdam. “We started out as a team with people from the municipality and scientists that developed the working method through trial and error, reading literature, what steps are necessary and having to learn each other’s languages”, shares Inge.  

The collaboration lasted for four years and, even though it was evaluated very positively, it had to stop when no more funding was available. That is when BIG’R restarted as an independent impact center of Erasmus Research & Business Support (ERBS) at the University. Inge reflects on their journey, stating, “We had a whole strategy developed on how to deal with these questions in practice, and we noticed there was still a lot of need for insights and practices, so we thought it would be a shame to throw it all out.” 

ERBS played a crucial role in supporting the establishment of BIG’R as an independent impact center. Inge acknowledges their contribution: “ERBS really offered us a nice opportunity. They offered us the possibility to restart in a safe space with a lot of support for us to start this BIG’R 2.0, as an independent impact center. Without the ERBS I don’t think we could have restarted, because it would be too big of a risk.” Inge acknowledges the value of being able to experiment with this way of working within the academic setting. 

BIG’R Main Challenges 

One of the main challenges BIG’R faced was effectively putting science into practice and communicating scientific insights to stakeholders with diverse backgrounds. Inge shares that it was challenging to communicate scientific thoughts and insights towards people that are not necessarily used to that kind of language and highlights the importance of bridging the gap, “You have to learn each other’s language. Public policy officials have a very different language than scientists, sometimes also a very different way of thinking.”  

Additionally, combining different research methods and convincing other scientists of the value of unconventional approaches posed further challenges. “I think we were in the forefront and that was a challenge. But fortunately, there’s a growing movement towards more Impact and more multi-method research”, mentions Inge. But with time and hard work, BIG’R was able to get trust and find the right collaborations, completing some projects, becoming known and achieving great successes. 


Creating change   

One of BIG’R’s notable successes was their study on reducing speed limits in Rotterdam. Inge proudly tells, “We recently did a study looking into reducing the speed limit from 50 to 30 kilometers per hour in Rotterdam”. How do you get the motorists to comply with the new speed limit? BIG’R has developed various interventions for this, such as a specific way of placing the speed signs, so that motorists are effectively made aware of their speed.

The image represents the reduction of speed limits from 50 to 30 kilometers per hour in Rotterdam

 “The municipality has taken our advice and started implementing this citywide, making the city safer and healthier for everyone”, shares the interviewee. “So that really gives me a big drive, that you can change something in your city right away and a lot of people will notice, and you can create positive contribution.” 

Inge offers valuable advice for peers in academia who aspire to make a similar impact. She encourages them, “Don’t be scared and be open to methods and new ways of working…”. Scientists are mostly trained in a classical way of researching: how do you conduct a perfect experiment? Inge reflects that this way of working keeps scientists from touching on real, important societal topics that are not easily studied. So, her advice? “Be brave, creative, and willing to make some mistakes. For sure people will comment on your research methods and say they are not perfect. But just do it and try to find the right partners”.  

BIG’R is an inspiring impact center that harnesses scientific knowledge, behavioral insights, and practical interventions to drive positive change in society. Their journey, with the support of ERBS, showcases that it is possible for academics to turn research into positive societal impact and how they are committed to making a lasting impact. ERBS offers ambitious and passionate scientists a safe space for them to valorize their innovative ideas. Despite challenges, BIG’R has achieved significant successes and encourages peers to embrace creativity and bravery in their pursuit of societal impact. 

YOUNITE Event Sparks Collaboration and Technology-Driven Impact

The YOUNITE event, a collaboration between Erasmus Enterprise and YES!Delft, held on Thursday, 8 June, brought together a vibrant community of innovators, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders in a celebration of collaboration and technology-driven impact. The event, hosted by the charismatic Julian Jagtenberg, Founder and CEO at SOMNOX, showcased inspiring stories, insightful discussions, and groundbreaking technologies that have the potential to create positive change in society.

Frans van Houten, a prominent figure in the industry and alumni of the Rotterdam School of Management, shared his incredible journey of making impact. His emphasis on the significance of new technology and entrepreneurship for the world resonated deeply, highlighting the transformative power it holds.

The engaging panel discussion titled ‘Startup vs Corporate’ shed light on the pros and cons of different paths to creating impact. Panelists Sara Okhuijsen, Omar Link, and Antoinette Van Kolthoorn provided valuable insights, showcasing their experiences and perspectives on navigating the startup and corporate landscape.

Karthik Mahadevan captivated the audience with the inspiring story of Envision, a startup from the YES!Delft eco-system empowers people who are blind or have low vision to access everyday visual information for themselves. He demonstrated their groundbreaking technology, leaving the audience in awe of the possibilities that lie ahead.

Following the event, a remarkable Network Fair took place, providing startups from various sectors with a platform to connect, share ideas, and showcase their innovations. The presence of start-ups such as Loop Biotech, Yes!Talents, OASYS NOW, Gyromotics, Noria Sustainable Innovators, SoundCell, HighTechXL, EY, Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), Coding the Curbs, and AICON added immense value to the fair, fostering a spirit of collaboration and exchange.

Vice president of the Executive Board Ellen van Schoten, esteemed opener of the Network Fair, set the stage for an afternoon full of connections and possibilities. Her words ignited a sense of togetherness and community, emphasizing the importance of collective effort in driving innovation and impact.

“We are thrilled to see technology and business come together at YOUNITE,” said Ellen van Schoten. “This event has showcased the transformative potential of collaboration and the power of innovation in creating a lasting impact on important issues such as sustainability.”

Ellen van Schoten speaking at the Younite event

YOUNITE was made possible through the collaboration of incredible partners including HighTechXL, ASML, Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), ErasmusX, and AICON. The event owes its success to the unwavering dedication and hard work of the entire team at Erasmus Enterprise and YES!Delft, who tirelessly ensured a seamless and extraordinary experience for all participants.

As the event came to a close, attendees were left inspired and motivated to harness the power of technology and create a lasting impact. The YOUNITE team invites everyone to stay tuned for an exciting workshop on the 28th of June, where further insights and tools will be provided to empower individuals on their journey to making a difference.

For upcoming events, visit:

Spot at the Younite event

Business Terms Explained: 13 terms for beginners

There are many complex terms and concepts that can be intimidating, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged before even getting started. In this blog post, we break down some of the most common business and entrepreneurial terms to help beginners better understand the world of entrepreneurship and hopefully overcome some of those barriers. 

Don’t let the jargon and complexity of entrepreneurship discourage you from pursuing your dreams! Here are some key business and entrepreneurship terms explained to help you start your entrepreneurial journey:   

  1. Entrepreneurship is about creating value by identifying opportunities and taking strategic actions to exploit them. It’s a can-do culture focused on experimentation, innovation, and results.


  2. Business plan – A business plan is a written document that outlines a company’s goals, strategies, and financial projections. It’s an essential tool for entrepreneurs seeking funding or trying to grow their business.


  3. Startup – A start-up is a new business venture that is in the early stages of development and aims to offer innovative products, services, or technologies. Start-ups typically operate under conditions of uncertainty and limited resources.


  4. Scaleup – A scaleup is a business that has already passed the startup stage and has demonstrated its ability to grow rapidly. It has achieved a certain level of success and is now focused on scaling its operations to achieve even greater growth and profitability.


  5. Networking – Networking is the process of building relationships with other professionals in your industry or community. Networking can help entrepreneurs find new business opportunities, access funding, and gain valuable insights and advice.


  6. Pitch – A brief presentation that outlines a business idea or product in order to attract investors or customers.


  7. Funding – Funding refers to the money that an entrepreneur raises to start or grow their business. Funding can come from a variety of sources, including investors, loans, or grants.


  8. Supply chain – The network of businesses and organisations that are involved in the creation and delivery of a product or service.


  9. Revenue – The amount of money a company earns from selling goods or services.


  10. Cash flow – The amount of money that flows into and out of a business over a given period of time.


  11. Profit margin – The percentage of revenue that a company earns as profit after subtracting expenses.


  12. ROI – Return on Investment – A measure of the profitability of an investment, calculated as the gain or loss from the investment divided by the cost of the investment.


  13. Equity – The ownership interest in a company or property, representing the residual value of the assets after all liabilities are paid. 

By breaking down these terms, we hope to help beginners better understand the world of entrepreneurship and overcome some of the barriers and prejudices that may be holding them back. It is important to remember that entrepreneurship is not just for a select few – it is a mindset that anyone can adopt. Don’t let the fear of the unknown hold you back from pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams. With a little bit of knowledge and a lot of determination, you can break down the barriers and take your first steps towards building a successful business.

Entrepreneurship in a Nutshell

Entrepreneurship is a temporary, non-linear search process for a business model that is desirable, feasible, and viable. At Erasmus Enterprise, located at Erasmus University Rotterdam, entrepreneurship is a core value that is fostered amongst students, academics, and professional services on the campus and beyond.

In a nutshell, entrepreneurship is about creating value by identifying opportunities and taking strategic actions to exploit them. This definition, as per the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship, highlights the essence of entrepreneurship. It’s a can-do culture focused on experimentation, innovation, and results. Entrepreneurs are unafraid to stray from the beaten path, and they build bridges between past inspirations and present challenges, all framed by shared values.

At Erasmus University Rotterdam, entrepreneurship is an integral part of the Strategy24, which aims to create societal impact in various disciplines. We offer academics a support network, advice, tools, and tips to achieve their entrepreneurial goals. Entrepreneurship is not limited to starting one’s own business. Instead, it’s about taking small actions that result in positive improvements in one’s immediate environment.

If you’re looking to start your own business, Erasmus Enterprise has you covered. Download our handbook to get started. By embracing entrepreneurship, you can create value, drive innovation, and make a positive impact on society.

Breaking barriers: How an academic entrepreneur is creating impact

Erasmus Enterprise has recently welcomed Iris Casteren van Cattenburch and Sonja Wendel, incorporating into our community The Human Stuff, their narrative-based research consultancy for creating cultures of care. Their journey demonstrates that it is possible to combine academia with entrepreneurship and turn research into positive societal impact. In an interview, Iris shared the exhilarating journey of building their business, along with the challenges they had to overcome. 

The Human Stuff helps organisations focus on the human element, thus improving the health of people and of the organisation. “Our premise is that every human being needs to be seen and heard to feel a sense of belonging. In this way they commit themselves to the vision, mission, and goals of the organisation,” shared Iris. By using an age-old learning tool that is accessible to everyone, our human ability to tell stories, they encourage customers and employees to cultivate a constructive and mutually beneficial human culture.  

Asked about how this journey to enter entrepreneurship as an academic was, Iris answered that for her it was not as challenging as for Sonja. “I have been self-employed as a communications strategist since 1999, so entrepreneurship is my starting point. I also combined my PhD research with my professional career,” told Iris. She developed her dissertation into a method to apply Shakespeare to organisational and sustainability challenges and became an associate researcher at GovernEUR, one of the impact centers of Erasmus Research & Business Support (ERBS) at the Erasmus University to add the narrative-based approach to their qualitative research projects in public administration. The director of ERBS, Laurien Poleij, connected her with Sonja. 

Sonja is an assistant professor and teacher at the Erasmus University Rotterdam (School of Economics) and senior researcher at the Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing. One of her main research objectives is to prioritise health and well-being, drawing on human experiences captured in stories. She passionately believes that connecting inter-disciplinary theories and practices can stimulate out-of-the-box thinking and enhance academic research to create impact. Sonja and Iris shared passion for stories and the impact they can have, by using them as interventions for improving organisational cultures, made them take the leap and embark on a business adventure together. 

Their biggest challenge was to develop the steps of their business process into something clear and understandable for their potential clients. Nevertheless, the support of ERBS, and from the business developers of Erasmus Enterprise (EE) and Erasmus Research Services (ERS) helped them overcome this hurdle. Their innovative research activities are developing into a promising business and have now become a separate BV under the umbrella of Erasmus Enterprise. Iris shared that being part of the Erasmus Enterprise community is inspiring for the entrepreneurial spirit everyone breathes. “No matter what age, position or background; it’s a community of skilled intellectual doers who want to make a positive change in the world.”  

The inspiring journey of these women serves as proof that although combining being an academic and entrepreneur can be a challenge, it is within reach with the appropriate support and perseverance. Their advice for fellow academics that want to do the same? “If you want to make a change, it’s worth your venture!”