FOEBE+ and the first Study Week

September 2023 marked the launch of the project FOEBE+ – Fostering Entrepreneurship for a sustainable and innovative BioEconomy, a new Erasmus+ cooperation partnership project following up on the project FOEBE Erasmus+ strategic partnership (2020-2023). The project aims to deepen the knowledge of Master’s and PhD students, as well as lifelong learners, in the field of bioeconomy and guide them along their entrepreneurial journey. Thanks to pedagogical experiences shared by various participating professors, FOEBE+ wants to equip the participants with the tools and expertise necessary to become bioeconomy entrepreneurs. Over the entire course of the project, FOEBE+ will involve a broad range of students from the 7 EBU universities participating in the consortium, namely APT, BOKU, SGGW, UEF, UHOH, UniBo and WUR.

The project will recruit 3 successive cohorts over three years, with the first one that started in January 2024 for a period of twenty weeks and culminating with a Study Week at Wageningen University, which took place last month in April 2024. During the Study Week, the students were taught essential concepts through various modules to prepare them for entrepreneurship in the bioeconomy sector. The 8 modules of the FOEBE+ program include sessions on General Bioeconomy, Accelerated sustainable entrepreneurship, Creative thinking & idea generation, Knowledge management, Business management & finance, Leadership & execution, Marketing and Digitalisation.

The FOEBE+ Study Week, held on 22–26 April 2024, provided 34 of 37 students enrolled in the first cohort with the opportunity to meet in person for the first time. On the first day, Prof. Benoit Gabrielle from AgroParisTech, coordinator of FOEBE+, outlined the week’s objectives, the expectations for the groups’ work, and the involvement of the EBU alliance in the project, under which guidance the FOEBE+ project was developed. After Dr.Ir. Negin Salimi’s lecture (Wageningen University) on opportunity recognition and validation, and the creation of the working groups, everyone gathered for a well-deserved welcome dinner.

The week was filled with group work sessions and lectures on various topics, including Materials by Dr. HL Harriëtte Bos from Wageningen University, Business Model Canvas by Dr.Ir. Carlos Barzola, from Wageningen University, Intellectual Property and Patenting by Michael Ambros, from BOKU University, and Marketing by Lina Mayorga Duarte from the University of Hohenheim. We were fortunate on Tuesday to welcome Dr. Carlos Cabrera, Director and Founder of Greencovery, a startup which aims to reduce food waste and make upcycled ingredients the norm in the food industry, who shared his entrepreneurial journey. Additionally, students had the opportunity to visit two companies in Amsterdam: Chaincraft, focusing on producing bioproducts from organic waste, and Renewi, which specialises in waste management and recycling solutions, aiming to create a circular economy by maximizing the value of waste materials. This inspiring day ended with a visit to Amsterdam in the evening.

At the end of the week, students presented the results of their teamwork, showcasing innovative and promising projects born from multicultural collaboration centred around bioeconomy and entrepreneurship. We hope that this study week will have helped the participants, beyond acquiring competencies, to create connections that will serve as a strong asset in their future careers.

The success of this Study Week would not have been possible without the support of all partner universities, especially Wageningen University, the host university of this 3rd edition (after Bologna and Warsaw). We extend our sincere gratitude to the students who travelled to the Netherlands and actively participated in this Study Week. Special thanks also go to the lecturers for their valuable contributions, for sharing their experiences and for providing guidance. Lastly, we acknowledge and appreciate all the teams involved in organizing this fruitful Study Week, either pedagogically or logistically.