Council blocks UG plans for VentureLab: no solid foundation

Effective immediately, the UG board will stop financing VentureLab with public funds. The university council has expressed its lack of faith in the plans. 

It had nothing to do with the idea to split up the ailing University of Groningen Centre for Entrepreneurship (UGCE). Moving the entrepreneurship research and education to the Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB) seemed like a logical step. 

The plans to turn VentureLab, which enables students and PhD candidates to get a taste of entrepreneurship, into a foundation separate to the university were also solid. 

But the council wanted a solid business plan before agreeing with the university contributing 200,000 euros a year. Unfortunately, that’s where it went wrong. 


VentureLab is currently subsidised to the tune of 1.4 million by the Nationaal Programma Groningen, but what happens when those funds run out in three years? The UGCE was set up seven years ago, has been losing money every single year, and still hasn’t managed to find any partners. 

The number of participants (students and PhD candidates) is also below expectations. The UG board was banking on seventy-five people a year, but this goal hasn’t been reached over the past few years. During the council meeting, it was revealed that the UGCE barely managed to get thirty participants during their best year.


Hans Biemans with the board of directors said the UG would barely be at risk with VentureLab as its own foundation. It would then have to find its own financiers. ‘If the foundation is successful, great. If they can’t find a sufficient number of participants, it’s the foundation’s problem’, says Biemans. 

‘Concerning the risk: please keep in mind that the uni’s revenues amount to approximately 800 million a year. If that amount is a metre, the risk is a quarter of a millimetre. You wouldn’t even be able to see that without glasses.’

Investigation into social safety

But Biemans was unable to assuage the council’s doubts. Another consideration is the investigation into the lack of social safety at the UGCE.

This investigation was started after former UGCE employees were quoted in an UKrant article about their boss Aard Groen’s intimidating and aggressive attitude. He is the dean of entrepreneurship and is supposed to head up the VentureLab.


That investigation hasn’t finished yet. While board member Biemans emphasised ‘that we’re talking about structures, not people’, the university council was dissatisfied with the course of events.

It would have made more sense to wait for the report on social safety at the UGCE before discussing the future of the organisation. ‘That’s the least I’d expect if they’re applying for five years of subsidy’, said Kristina Linka with the council’s science faction.

Private funds

The university council and the board of directors failed to reach a consensus after hours of discussion, so the UG board decided to stop financing the foundation with public funds. This doesn’t mean the plans are cancelled, however. The board of directors could still decide to use the university’s private funds.

The council did vote in favour of the plan to move the UGCE educational and research activities to the Faculty of Economics and Business.


Notify of

De spelregels voor reageren: blijf on topic, geen herhalingen, geen URLs, geen haatspraak en beledigingen. / The rules for commenting: stay on topic, don't repeat yourself, no URLs, no hate speech or insults.


0 Reacties
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments