Prof. Rob van Tulder at the NRC Live Impact Challenge
Prof. Rob van Tulder at the NRC Live Impact Challenge

One hundred days. One hundred change-makers. The energetic kick-off event of the NRC Live Impact Challenge, which was co-organised by Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), NRC Live and Impact City, took place on Tuesday 5 March 2019. To set the scene for inspiration, it was held at the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship, overlooking the Rotterdam harbour.

In collaboration with RSM Executive Education, this 100-day challenge aims to spread social intrapreneurship, to broaden the reach of organisations creating impact from within. Often dubbed ‘intrapreneurs’, the challenge aims to facilitate participants in designing their own model for impact and successfully engage others. The challenge consists of two live events, a 100-day online programme and multiple peer review sessions. The content aims to equip professionals across all sectors to develop a financially sound business case based on their initial idea, and concretise and implement it during or after the challenge.

Build a good case

Among the speakers of the first get-together was innovation expert Ling Ling Phung, who shared a wealth of experience from having been an intrapreneur at Unilever. She acknowledged the hurdles that come with introducing a new idea, and stressed the importance of leveraging resources and building a business case that aligns with company objectives. This often helps when pitching the idea to those slightly more sceptical or reluctant to see changes.

Money talks

She said it is important to be aware of the key stakeholders. “Who in the end can ’make or break’ your idea?” she asked, and added that even if people have gained 100 supporters, but if none of them have a say in whether or not the initiative will happen, the efforts could be in vain. So instead, focus on getting to know – and winning the support of – key decision-makers about the initiative. 

RSM’s Thijs Geradts also discussed the challenges of social intrapreneurship. In between talks, participants broke out into groups to identify the value of their project to their organisation’s purpose, to people and society.

Keep swimming

Speakers emphasised that tides might get rough when pitching your business case to static parts of the organisation or when you hit a road block, but encouraged participants to keep going. While it is important to spend time reflecting on ideas, plans and strategies, they advised not to get stuck in the process by questioning whether your plan will succeed or fail.

Sustainable development goals

RSM’s Professor Rob van Tulder discussed why a transition towards sustainable business is necessary by alluding to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. RSM uses these goals as a reference framework in its mission to be a force for positive change through its education, research and collaboration with business. Professors Jan van den Ende and Daan Stam who have a prominent role in the online platform, also shared some key insights, tips and expectations for this challenge.

One of the co-founders of Dutch comic figures Fokke & Sukke made live cartoons that were shared throughout the day to remind people to find humour and joy in serious moments.

The two participants with the most innovative ideas will receive a prize at the live final event of the NRC Live Challenge on Thursday 27 June 2019.

More information

The NRC Live Impact Challenge is organised by NRC Live, a platform that provides new perspectives and development opportunities for professionals across industries, together with RSM Executive Education. The challenge consists of two live events in 2019: the kick-off on Tuesday 5 March and the final event on Thursday 27 June. In between, there’s a 100-day programme in which participants follow online RSM modules to get the skills and knowledge on how to initiate and implement sustainable innovations. NRC Live and RSM Executive Education aim to inspire participants, and offer them the network for innovating their business by contributing to one or more of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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Daan Stam , Jan van den Ende , Rob van Tulder
Thijs Geradts