“Soft sciences” students to conquer Amsterdam’s startup world?



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Yes, you read it correctly, students of the so-called ‘soft studies’ are about to enter the Amsterdam startup scene. Studies such as languages, history, culture, and philosophy. Those might not directly come to mind when thinking about the required education to become successful in business and entrepreneurship. UvA’s faculty of Humanities thinks differently and therefore launches the Humanities Venture Lab. 

Venture Lab Humanities

The faculty just announced that it will open a Venture Lab where Humanities students can get all the information and skills they need to start their own business. The Lab is inspired by the ACE Venture Lab,  the ‘tech incubator’ in Amsterdam Science Park. The Humanities Lab will start in October as a pilot, in which Humanities students as well as alumni can sign up for trainings, coaching, or for a full programme entrepreneurship for Humanities. The Lab is located in the historic center of Amsterdam. Students can get temporary and affordable working places here to develop their ideas. 

Intensive training

Bootcamp means sweating. It means pushing your boundaries, challenging yourself, getting the best out of yourself. It can be a physical training in the open air, it could also be the intensive training at the Venture Lab Humanities. The Bootcamp is a five days training in which professionals will initiate you into the world of entrepreneurship. They will give away all the secrets of creating a successful startup, and how to develop your business idea into a company of your own. Need a warm up before the Bootcamp? For those who’d first like to become more acquainted with the world of startups, there is the two-day Explore Program.

UvA Startup challenge

Financial support is always welcome, especially when you are about to start your own business. Part of the opening of the new lab will therefore be the startup challenge on 1 November, where the students will pitch their business ideas. Similar challenges were already held in other faculties. Economics and Business students won the price for their startup Soofos, an online marketplace for courses. Winner of the faculty of Computer Sciences is Stairway to Travel, an online tool for finding unique travel destinations. The winning startup of each faculty gets an award of €1000,- and proceeds to the finals, where students from all different faculties compete to win another €5000,-. 

Negative stereotypes

Studies in Humanities are often labeled as useless and soft: they might be interesting on a personal level, but they won’t help you to make money in ‘the real world’. Therefore some cynics consider studying Humanities a waste of time. The Humanities Venture Lab could be a way for students to overcome and challenge these stereotypes by transforming their ‘soft’ ideas into viable startup businesses. No other Humanities faculty in the Netherlands has ever provided a startup platform before. In that sense, this idea could indeed be a real breakthrough.

Amsterdam University Image by Shutterstock

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Laura Vrijsen

Discourse and argumentation studies graduate who loves to meditate. Reporter at Silicon Canals.

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