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Professor Vareska van de Vrande of Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is to be the academic lead of the newly established Erasmus Enterprise BV . This new establishment will hold subsidiaries of tech incubator YES!Delft, the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship (ECE) and Erasmus Research & Business Support (ERBS) with the aim to create one community for all entrepreneurship activities, from education to start-up programmes, at Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR). 

Van de Vrande is Professor of Collaborative Innovation and Business Venturing in the department of Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship at RSM with expertise in corporate venturing and collaborative innovation.

YES!Delft – which is also supported by Delft University of Technology and the Municipality of Delft – will focus on start-up incubation in certain dedicated fields (verticals). RSM plays an important role in the YES!Delft project, with many of its faculty members involved in existing EUR initiatives already focusing on entrepreneurship, including the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship (ECE) and Erasmus Research and Business Support (ERBS). For EUR, Yes!Delft fits into EUR’s Strategy 2024 for creating positive societal impact. EUR intends to increase its impact in the Rotterdam Delft region via entrepreneurship.

Linking expertises

Rutger Engels, Rector Magnificus of EUR said: “The collaboration with YES!Delft is a natural progression of the convergence strategy of EUR, Erasmus MC and TU Delft, and further enhances the use of knowledge with respect to several big social themes. We aim to connect the Rotterdam and Delft ecosystems and link our expertises. The regional innovation climate will receive a boost through stimulating diversity in start-up teams.

YES!Delft will offer programmes in Rotterdam that connect to the expertise in RSM and EUR, and will encourage and facilitate collaboration with third parties. Innovative students, staff and alumni will find space to collaborate on their social initiatives and/or innovative start-ups. Examples include resolving urban issues, such as children and family services and care for the elderly – the sort of social issues upon which technology is expected to have a huge impact. Yes!Delft will also offer initiatives in Delft and The Hague.

The Municipality of Delft wholeheartedly supports the development, explained deputy mayor Bas Vollebregt from the Municipality of Delft. “YES!Delft has proved hugely successful in supporting promising companies. Together with the other shareholder, TU Delft, we are implementing a strategy in which we aim to increase this impact. This includes expansions to other strong economic clusters in the region in which the collaboration with Erasmus University is a perfect match. The technical talent from Delft and economic talent from Rotterdam can complement each other beautifully.”    

Innovation through diversity

The Rotterdam region is rich breeding ground for diversity and entrepreneurship. A multidisciplinary approach is vital for innovation and to find solutions for challenges in the region. Innovation demands a combination of different perspectives, for example technology, social, and commercial perspectives starting from the solution as well as the need. Start-up teams that can make use of that diversity can innovate faster and better, which is why the convergence of EUR and YES!Delft is an important driver of enterprising initiatives. The synergy between EUR disciplines and TU Delft disciplines can result in more diverse teams that can better respond to social challenges and can act as an accelerator for start-ups.

“Successful start-ups always have a diverse founder team in which the team members complement each other and often differ in profile. This collaboration enables us to bring together EUR business talent and TU Delft technical talent, so that we can form optimal start-up teams in the region,” explained Evert Jaap Lugt, managing director of YES!Delft.

YES!Delft regional incubation powerhouse

YES!Delft was founded by TU Delft, TNO and the Municipality of Delft, and the incubator plays a key role in the innovation ecosystem in TU Delft and the Zuid Holland region. “TU Delft is proud of the success of YES!Delft. Various spin-offs have been able to develop successfully there, and the incubator is a household name on TU Delft Campus. Different companies have joined in from the Rotterdam region in recent years, and we are now joining forces to stimulate entrepreneurship in our region on important social themes. This is a perfect match for the close collaboration between TU Delft, EUR and Erasmus MC”, stated Executive Board Chair, Tim van der Hagen.

Top five incubators

In the annual UBI ranking of global business incubators and accelerators, YES!Delft is considered to be one of the top five incubators in the world. With over 120 tech start-ups in the incubator, over 100 mentors and over 40 corporate partners, YES!Delft manages the largest start-up ecosystem in the Netherlands. Examples of successful initiatives with a social approach include the Somnox sleep robot (now established in Rotterdam as a spin-off from TU Delft) and, something vital in these times, and the Smart UV disinfecting equipment that uses UV light.

More information

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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Vareska van de Vrande