Friday, December 7, 2018


Young Belgians are dreaming of entrepreneurs, but few dare to take the step of starting a business. For what reasons?
Bernard Surlemont: "The main obstacle is lack of self-confidence. This is largely linked, I think, to our education system, where the fear of risk and failure remains marked. The Venture Lab, a Liège incubator for students entrepreneurs and young graduates, tries to make up for this weakness by offering young entrepreneurs at the same time an appropriate framework and a follow-up support during all the development path of their project. We want to maximize their chance of success. "

Didier Beauvois: "Personally, I am struck by the entrepreneurial spirit of the younger generation, who is increasingly interested in entrepreneurship and sees it as the most interesting career choice. Idea to act, there are still obstacles: isolation, lack of visibility, network, etc. Entrepreneurship and start-ups are gradually gaining momentum, as we feel in the contacts we have with bearers in the field. Project, companies, all players in the ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation, including universities, but also within our own organization. Now, we are inspired by the working methods of start-ups we have created our Home for Innovation to stimulate intrapreneurship, and three years ago this was simply not the order of the day. "

Is venture capital not missing, as we sometimes hear?
Bernard Surlemont: "This is no longer true, but the myth persists: anyone who develops a good project can always find public or private funding, for example from business angels." To facilitate access to capital -risk, in March 2016, we created with BeAngels - the network of French-speaking business angels in Belgium - an investment vehicle dedicated to student entrepreneurs: the SIBA Venture Lab (Investment Structure of Business Angels). 000 euros this year, are invested in projects incubated at Venture Lab. Young entrepreneurs can receive an extra boost often needed to complete the financing of their project.

"The younger generation is more and more tempted by entrepreneurship and sees it as the most interesting career choice." Didier Beauvois, Head of Corporate Banking, BNP Paribas Fortis

Didier Beauvois: "That's right." There are many private and public venture capital players in Belgium, but the novice entrepreneur does not always know where to turn to finance his project. Financial instruments, under what conditions and with what limitations. There is, in my opinion, an important educational work to be done. As a bank, we invest a lot. Our employees are trained to guide entrepreneurs who are looking for financing are better able to apply for bank financing, which is often the case for start-up companies that do not have sufficient capital and do not generate stable revenue streams we explain to them why, we then direct them to the type of financing that best fits their project and put them in direct contact with the actors s adequate risk capital (business angels, venture capitalists, public institutions, etc.). We are further stimulating collaboration between all parties to facilitate access to venture capital for young entrepreneurs. BNP Paribas Fortis also invests in diversified funds, such as, for example, Theodorus and Vives, specialized in university spin-offs or Epimède. These funds in turn invest in start-up or growth companies. "

Do you feel that the stigmatization of the entrepreneurs who fail, disappears little by little?
Bernard Surlemont: "Surely Take Eat Easy: This start-up specializes in the delivery of meals has finally failed, but its founders are now giving presentations on how to handle failure. This was unthinkable until there In addition, companies are gradually becoming aware that a failed entrepreneur can bring a lot to them as a collaborator: perseverance, initiative, negotiation: these qualities are essential when you start your own business. Such an experience is always a plus on a resume”

"The Venture Lab offers prospective entrepreneurs the appropriate coaching and support followed by experienced entrepreneurs throughout the development journey of their project." Bernard Surlemont, Founder and Director of Venture Lab

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