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About the VentureLab

The VentureLab identifies and showcases the role that young entrepreneurs can play in tomorrow’s world

The VentureLab is an entrepreneurship support structure that aims to promote business creation among students and young graduates from higher education institutions in Liège and Luxembourg. The incubator greatly respects their life paths and the environment they work in. The purpose of the VentureLab is threefold:

An educational purpose: helping these young people, aged between 18 and 30, become entrepreneurs, and develop their skills and their self-confidence.

• An economic purpose: supporting business creation to create economic added value and jobs.

• A societal purpose: responding to social and environmental issues by helping young entrepreneurs to become the business leaders of tomorrow, aware of their impact and willing to commit to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Our world is changing. The stakeholders of the world of tomorrow, young people have the ability to rethink our models and are the levers of effective solutions for the future. What if we gave them the means to do this? What if we really let them take control of their future?

Our story

A realisation

Faced with economic, societal and environmental issues, a growing number of young, aspiring entrepreneurs have expressed a strong desire to work on meaningful projects. These young people have innovative ideas and are eager to shake things up, but, above all, they have the vision and the ability to build a better future.

Unfortunately, their approach all too often gets stuck at the idea stage. Very few of them actually get to become entrepreneurs. They are held back by the fear of getting started, the fear of failure, the lack of a network, the lack of clear sources of support and assistance.

An idea

What if we gave young people the means to create their own projects and live out their dreams? What if we really let them take control of their future?

It was Bernard Surlemont, professor of entrepreneurship at HEC Liège and future founder and President of the VentureLab, who had this idea of creating an incubator specifically dedicated to students and young graduates to help them become agents of change. He made “Youth Entrepreneurship for Change” his motto.

An incubator

On its the launch day, 20 November 2014, a dozen students and young graduates were supported for the first time by the VentureLab, which became the first incubator in French-speaking Belgium for Student Entrepreneurs and young graduates. It was created as part of an initiative by the Université de Liège and HEC Liège. It was founded by Bernard Surlemont, professor at HEC Liège, Hubert Brogniez, Luc Pire and Phillippe Woitrin.

Sophie Joris was appointed director of the VentureLab. She gradually built a team of entrepreneurs who were eager to act as coaches, and thereby pass on their network and experience to future entrepreneurs, as well as a multidisciplinary team who develop tools for entrepreneurship.

In January 2021, Aude Bonvissuto became the new head of the VentureLab.

In order to carry out our mission, we uphold the following key values

Be useful

We aim to be useful by creating value among the young entrepreneurs we support and we help them do the same with their businesses. This is not just economic value, it can also be environmental, social, artistic.

Be free to decide

The world of tomorrow needs decision-makers. At the VentureLab, everyone is an active participant in their own journey. We respect everyone’s decisions and encourage strong opinions.

Be an entrepreneur

The entrepreneurial ideas take shape, while taking into consideration the world around us, its opportunities, its challenges and its limits. We all have a role to play and a responsibility to take action.

Ask them!

We do not always speak the language of our beneficiaries, users, or clients. We must learn to speak their language so we can include them when we develop solutions. Understanding the problem is the key to creating a world that makes sense!

Want to know more about our results?

Our key figures, vision and profiles of young entrepreneurs we’ve supported can all be found in our activity report.
Take a look at the VentureLab’s figures