HELPING STUDENTS TO TURN ROCKET SCIENCE INTO BUSINESS
Programme: Drs. Programme MTI (Technology and Innovation Management, 2003
Currently: Technology Transfer Officer at the European Space Agency (ESA)
Nominated by: Frieda Franke, Senior Corporate Relations Manager (CEMS)/Career Service Manager
Niels Eldering is a true ‘RSM citizen’ by providing unique business projects for students. As a technology transfer officer at the European Space Agency (ESA) and deputy to its head of office, Niels Eldering's main responsibility is the management of the ESA’s 11 Business Incubation Centres (BICs) across Europe, supporting more than 100 new start-up companies each year. The centers aim to provide support to entrepreneurs who exploit space-based solutions on non-space markets
Prior to this role, Niels was business incubation manager at the first ESA BIC in Noordwijk, which served as a template model for the current ESA BIC constellation in Europe. This was the result of his RSM MSc research on setting up a strategy for ESA to deploy business incubation as a tool for technology transfer and commercialisation. While at RSM, Niels was actively involved in its study association of RSM and later took up various assignments as a teaching assistant at RSM’s Management of Technology and Innovation. He provided regular guest lectures in RSM’s OneMBA programme, and to Master in International Management/CEMS students at RSM and NHH Bergen in Norway.
Business projects for future leaders
Niels and his thesis co-reader Dr Wim Hulsink started the seminar “Turning Technology into Business” at ESA to give RSM students the same business insights in the world of space as he once encountered. Working together with RSM’s academic staff, he was able to engage ESA into a partnership with CEMS, the global alliance of management education. “I really experience the link with RSM as lifelong, and am very much involved with RSM in my professional and private life.” Thanks to Niels, 65 CEMS students per year have the opportunity to research high-tech applications and business projects at the European Space Agency, resulting in a total of 56 business projects based on ESA technology. His efforts in connecting the organisations were celebrated during the 10-year anniversary of the collaboration in August 2014.
Niels aims to further increase the dissemination of space technologies for the benefit of society and its economy. He says the way forward to do this is to work together with current leaders, and even more so with the future leaders. “This is why I’m involving ESA into RSM and CEMS: giving back to your university is not only giving back to your alma mater to which you owe so much; it’s also tapping into the vast resource of talents we need in order to make the future happen.”