Group of people holding awards on a stage after the finale

Wageningen Entrepreneurship Grant

The Wageningen Entrepreneurship Grant supports student entrepreneurs with impactful ideas. Every year, three prizes are awarded under the grant: two Start-Up Awards, for commercially promising sustainable initiatives, and a public award for an impact-driven initiative.

Registrations open now!

Are you a student-entrepreneur, studying at or recently graduated from Wageningen University & Research, and do you want to bring your entrepreneurial idea to the next level? Enter the Wageningen Entrepreneurship Grant competition! Register through the registration form. Deadline is 29 February 2024.

Awards

Future Resources Award

Startup Award of €25,000 for the best initiative focused on renewables as the most promising solution for climate and energy transition, within the WUR domain.

Future Planet Award

Startup Award of €25,000 for the best knowledge-driven idea within the WUR domain with impact as its goal and with proven growth potential and interest from the market (validation and traction).

Future Society Award

Public Award of €7,500 for an impact-driven and sustainable initiative.

More information

Criteria & Procedure

Please register yourself through the registration form on this webpage. You will be asked to answer a number of questions on your proposition, as well as to provide a motivation letter.

On March 1 2024, the 12 initiatives who will participate in the semi-finals on March 7, 2024 will be announced.

During the semi-finals, 6 finalists will be selected for the finals: 3 for the Future Resources Award and 3 for the Future Planet Award. All finalists are also eligible for the Future Society Award audience award. Finalists will receive support and feedback in preparation for the finals, which will be held on May 22 2024.

Make sure that you meet the criteria before applying.

Important dates 2024

Here are the key dates and deadlines:

Registration deadline: February 29, 2024

Announcement semi-finalists: March 1, 2024

If you have been selected for the semi-finals, the following dates are important:

Preparation session: March 6, 2024

Semi final: March 7, 2024

Final: May 22, 2024

Jury 2024

To be announced.

About the initiators

The investors of the AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant are Marcel van Poecke and his daughter Heleen. Marcel van Poecke graduated in 1985 from Wageningen University & Research with a masters in Forestry. "My education at WUR has laid the foundation for entrepreneurship, a creative mind and a broad, international view on society", says Van Poecke; Ingredients that contributed to his succesful entrepreneurship, among which his company AtlasInvest. According to his daughter Heleen, who studied Business Administration at Harvard, you do not only owe your success to yourself, but also to the support of the people around you and the education you received. Van Poecke therefore wanted to give back to his alma mater, and currently does so as a member of the Wageningen Ambassadors, a group of successful alumni who support education and research at WUR.

Besides supporting a variety of projects, a new priority of WUR caught his attention: stimulating entrepreneurship among students and young researchers. In the US, Heleen saw that the link between American universities and businesses is more developed than in The Netherlands, and that investments in start-ups are much more common. In The Nederlands, most universities focus almost completely on the academic side, and offer less extracurricular opportunities to prepare students for a career in business; reason enough for father and daughter to contribute to this priority of WUR.

Together with University Fund Wageningen and Starthub Wageningen, Marcel and Heleen developed a grant for student entrepreneurs: the AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant. Through a pitch competition, student entrepreneurs can pitch their creative ideas to a jury and win start-up capital to get their enterprise off the ground. According to Heleen, the start-up capital is the hardest to obtain. "This platform should give students the feeling that they can be bold and just go for it. The basis of entrepreneurship, furthermore, is using your network. Dare to ask!", says Heleen. That is why networking with other participants, the audience, panel members and the jury is central in the grant programme. Even if participants cannot obtain that start-up capital, this grant can thus really offer them important experiences.

 Alumnus Marcel van Poecke and his daughter Heleen van Poecke.
Alumnus Marcel van Poecke and his daughter Heleen van Poecke.

AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant 2023 winners

AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant 2022 winners

During the opening event of F&A Next, the two AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant awards were presented. LumiNose's student entrepreneurs won the €35,000 Start-up Award with their 'Insect Odor Receptors': technology that mimics the sensitive sense of smell of insects. Alessia Capurso won the Impact Award with her initiative Urban Funghi, which grows oyster mushrooms in vacant buildings.

Read the news article here:

Alessia from Urban Funghi (on the right) with Sebastiaan Berendse (director CVC), Marcel van Poecke (instigator of the award) and Lies Boelrijk (director University Fund Wageningen)
Alessia from Urban Funghi (on the right) with Sebastiaan Berendse (director CVC), Marcel van Poecke (instigator of the award) and Lies Boelrijk (director University Fund Wageningen)

AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant 2021 winners

A diagnostic platform, based on CRISPR-Cas, able to quickly and precisely recognize illnesses, and setting up microalgae production systems. These were the two themes with which the WUR-entrepreneurs won with their start-up companies Scope BioSciences and Algreen turned winners of the AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant. Both start-ups are based on knowledge that is developed at Wageningen University & Research. The award ceremony took place on May 26 in Plus Ultra II building at Wageningen Campus as a pre-event to F&A Next.

Scope BioSciences – Winner Start-up Award

The Start-Up Award supports student-entrepreneurs who focus on commercially promising solutions for worldwide challenges in the area of nutrition and sustainability. They develop scalable products and services that have the potential to grow. The Start-up Award exists, among others, of an amount of 35.000 euro which they can use to further develop their company.

Scope BioSciences focuses on CRISPR-Cas, them most important discovery in the area of biotechnology in the last decades. Scope has, in cooperation with Wageningen University & Research developed ScopeDx, a type III CRISPR-Cas diagnostic platform that offers very accurate molecular diagnostic results in less than 25 minutes. The jury was impressed by the potential of the company and the fact that, since the finals of the first edition last year, they have grown and improved tremendously. Scope has an interesting product, different promising routes to the market and the most clear plan of all finalists for his award.

Bart Scholten and Niek Savelkoul of Scope BioSciences. Photo: Guy Ackermans
Bart Scholten and Niek Savelkoul of Scope BioSciences. Photo: Guy Ackermans

Algreen – Winner Impact Award

The Impact Award stimulates sociale initiatives of student-entrepreneurs that focus on reaching maximum impact in the area of environment and sustainability. The Impact Award exists, among others, of an amount of 15.000 euro.

Algreen helps microalgae producers in all aspects of their business: from production to downstream, regulation and certification. They combine hands on experience with scientific knowledge and skills to co-develop the algae production system tailored to the client's needs. 

Their mission is ‘every day algae’. They strongly believe in the potential of algae to become a large scale commodity, replacing many traditional products, thanks to their unique properties and their sustainable and scalable production methods.

Stefano Canziani from Algreen at the Dutch Design Week

AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant 2020 winners

On August 19th 2020, the finale for the AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant 2020 took place in the studio of Starthub Wageningen. The finalists can be seen in the slideshow above.

Reuse of substances in waste flows for food products and sustainable material from fungi, with the quality of leather. With these themes, the Wageningen entrepreneurs Carlos Cabrera and Iris Houthoff won with their start-up companies Greencovery (Start-Up Award) and Mylium (Impact Award).

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Team members dr. Carlos Cabrera and Juan Cajiao, MBA and Industrial Eng. of Greencovery with their check. Photo: Guy Ackermans
Team members dr. Carlos Cabrera and Juan Cajiao, MBA and Industrial Eng. of Greencovery with their check. Photo: Guy Ackermans
Iris Houthoff and Mylium volunteer Hugo Hoenink with Heleen van Poecke. Photo: Guy Ackermans
Iris Houthoff and Mylium volunteer Hugo Hoenink with Heleen van Poecke. Photo: Guy Ackermans

Want to know more about the winners? Read the news report here.