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The mission statement “Moving Minds” determines the view on teaching, working, and studying at UCLL, where creativity and interdisciplinary entrepreneurship are rooted in all its activities.
Examples that demonstrate UCLL’s commitment to encouraging interdisciplinary entrepreneurship:
- StartMinds: Flagship platform to inspire, coach and connect entrepreneurial students. Students receive personal advice from external experts through StartMinds cheques, have access to physical and digital facilities, and can request a special student-entrepreneur status, which allows for a flexible study program. StartMinds also advises on the development of new curricula on entrepreneurship and drives interdisciplinary cooperation through its umbrella function.
- Pukkelpop: Partnership with a major festival where students promote innovative and sustainable projects. E.g. Milk ‘n Boobs bar for breastfeeding mums.
- The Third Way: Curriculum for social entrepreneurship.
- Events with external partners from regional ecosystems, local business organizations, and incubators, such as PitchPlease and Le(j)on.
- POP-UP markets, Hackathons, Transdisciplinary Co-creative course units, elective courses on entrepreneurship, international collaborations around entrepreneurship, and much more.
In addition, UCLL and 5 other Universities take up a leadership role to drive change in the educational field. Together they form E³UDRES²: an Engaged and Entrepreneurial European University as a Driver for European Smart and Sustainable regions and E.I.N.S.: E³UDRES² Entrepreneurship and Innovation Network for Smart and Sustainable European Regions.
Each year the Moving Minds Awards are organized to celebrate the most promising entrepreneurial student projects. By creating Moving Minds with entrepreneurial skills, UCLL is committed to increase human capital in its region and be an active partner in sustainable innovation and social justice.
UCLL is constantly looking for new opportunities to push boundaries within or outside the University. The award of Young Entrepreneurial University would be a recognition of all the efforts made to create an entrepreneurial university that educates Moving Minds and encourages us to continue on this path.

Key People

Robrecht Van Goolen
Coordinator StartMinds Leuven
R&E unit Smart Organisations,  UCLL

An Nackom
Coordinator StartMinds Limburg
R&E unit Smart Organisations,  UCLL

José Tummers
Head of Research & Expertise unit Smart Organisations
R&E unit Smart Organisations,  UCLL

Kim Plevoets
Program Director
Management,  UCLL

Lotte Ovaere
Researcher and lecturer E.I.N.S.
R&E unit Smart Organisations,  UCLL

Ann Ruelens
Researcher and lecturer E³UDRES² and E.I.N.S.
R&E unit Smart Organisations,  UCLL

Katrien Vandael
Researcher E.I.N.S.
R&E unit Smart Organisations,  UCLL


This list is not exhaustive. Lecturers and researchers involved in coaching the students in the various study programs of UCLL play a crucial part in the contribution of this entry. Besides, we want to thank the external organisational and educational partners. Also, the financial support of Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) for the eco-systems Le(J)On and Pitch Please is valuable and necessary to mention, as well as the European support for E³UDRES² and E.I.N.S.


Moving Minds DNA

Hackathon: Hack the Waste

The Third Way to support Social Entrepreneurship – Event in Valencia

Doble Via: students developed new teaching program around UN sustainability goals

TACO - Transdisciplinary Co-creative course unit. Topic diversity at work.

Collaboration with ecosystem PitchPlease

Twister Wear: student start-up created with support from StartMinds

Milk & Boobs Bar at Pukkelpop Festival

International Living Lab

2022 E³UDRES² International engagement circus


Impacting lifes

An example that illustrates the mission and philosophy of UCLL is Twister Wear.
Twister Wear is a fidget jumper to prevent overstimulation and subtly relax the wearer. Some people with ADHD, Autism, or Down Syndrome need to fidget all the time. To meet this need and have something accessible everywhere (e.g. in classrooms or public places) 2 students from orthopedagogy developed the idea of a jumper with gadgets on it, e.g. a fidget strip on the sleeve or a toy in the pouch. The idea originated during the course "Social entrepreneurship and innovation" but Jana and Heaven wanted to take things further. Through StartMinds, UCLL’s umbrella platform for entrepreneurial students, they were supported by a multidisciplinary team with the start-up of their business. Students from other faculties supported the creation of an online webshop, a logo, and a social media campaign. A StartMinds coach helped them with entrepreneurial principles such as bylaws, creation of a business plan, financial funding, and connected the students with external partners. The jumpers are tailormade in sheltered workshops. Twister Wear shows that social problems can be tackled with inclusive and accessible solutions.
Jana: “This project shows that students can also be entrepreneurial and innovative and go beyond just applying what is written in textbooks”. With success, Twister Wear is recognized with several awards and is now ready to scale up.UCLL supports several of these projects, such as the development of a dementia harp, Smak which offers sustainable chocolate spread made from red beans, Délicé which is delicious granola based on a food waste stream.


Lessons learned

Just like its students, UCLL is always on the move and motivates students, staff and community to grow into Moving Minds. Moving Minds are inspiring, innovative, and entrepreneurial professionals who contribute to a sustainable and just society, based on an authentic personality and a broad, engaged view of the world and their profession.
This vision was formed when UCLL was founded and the Moving Mind DNA feeds through everything UCLL does. This means a top-down approach where management strongly encourages and supports entrepreneurial activities, as well as a bottom-up approach with initiatives driven by staff, entrepreneurial alumni, and external partners to develop a program based on relevant issues faced by students. Besides specific courses and activities on entrepreneurship, UCLL also puts a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary learning and developing entrepreneurial soft skills.
As a University itself, UCLL continues to challenge itself, looking for better ways to embed entrepreneurship within the institution. Its 8 Research & Expertise centra offer practice-based research and services, connecting professionals, researchers, and students. With 5 other Universities, UCLL takes up a leadership role to drive change in the educational field. Together they formed E³UDRES² and E.I.N.S.. One of the goals of this alliance is to co-innovate smart and sustainable European regions, co-create a multi-university campus, and co-ideate a future university for future skilled learners.
This results in many activities around entrepreneurship, but they all contribute to the same vision of creating Moving Minds.


What's coming?

Being one of the finalists for Young Entrepreneurial University confirms UCLL is on the good track. UCLL will continue to operate as an accelerator with a lean approach to encourage and embody new initiatives. However, being entrepreneurial means constantly progressing and pushing new ideas.
Initially, UCLL will further increase entrepreneurship in less evident study programs. Student entrepreneurs from these programs will serve as ambassadors to be recognisable role models and inspire future generations of entrepreneurs. The ecosystems of which UCLL is a member: PitchPlease & Le(j)on will also play an important role in this.
In terms of content, UCLL will put a stronger focus on circular entrepreneurship, linking the best of social and traditional entrepreneurship. This will be driven by initiatives such as Circular Works and elective courses on circular entrepreneurship.
UCLL’s Research & Expertise centra intention is to further dial-up valorization efforts and stimulate staff-driven entrepreneurship.
Through the E³UDRES² alliance, UCLL’s ambition is to continue to co-innovate, co-create and co-ideate a future university for future skilled learners. Through E.I.N.S., students and staff will be further encouraged and supported to innovate and start new businesses. One of its objectives is to create open innovation hubs and share best practices to support student- and staff-driven start-ups.


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Moving Minds are studying at UCLL


Increase in intake and coaching interviews for entrepreneurial students through StartMinds vs. last year


StartMinds Academy sessions yearly (a micro-credential where participants receive custom coaching and gain knowledge on topics related to starting a business)


I-living labs and hackathons organized this year with the intention to increase over the coming years


Researchers that transform challenges into practical solutions


Research & Expertise centra such as Smart Organizations and Digital Solutions

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