The Demonstrator lab: a way to foster scientific entrepreneurship!

The Demonstrator Lab is an entrepreneurship laboratory where students, staff and academics from Amsterdam-based universities can transform their ideas into a tangible product or service. Founded in 2017, by Davide Iannuzzi and powered by the Innovation Exchange Amsterdam (IXA) – the knowledge transfer office of the universities of Amsterdam – the Demonstrator Lab aims to connect science and business by providing a learning-by-doing environment. Its goal is to foster an entrepreneurial culture in the higher education ecosystem of the city and to boost research-driven innovation by giving its members the opportunity to test their idea without taking risks.

To do so, the Demonstrator supports students, researchers, and academic staff through:

  • Advice on all aspects of the idea-to-market process;
  • Lab facilities, lab space, and office space (for a total of 580 sqm) in the field of product development (e.g. for fast prototyping).
  • Access to mechanical and electronic workshops in the Faculty of Science of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam;
  • Seed grant (no-strings-attached, minimal bureaucracy) of up to €15,000;
  • Flagship grant of up to €40,000 for a small, selected number of projects;
  • Connection to the Demonstrator Lab network, which consists of mentors, coaches, experts, business strategists, venture capitalists, market analysts, as well as potential users for the product or service developed.

Very often, the initial phase of valorisation is neglected by both the university and the business worlds, and this is one of the main motivations that lays behind the Demonstrator lab. The Demonstration Lab helps students and researchers test their idea or project, from conceptualisation to realisation, including the creation of a team, marketing strategy, identification of funding, and the development of a prototype. Supported by their vast network, the lab provides students and researchers with the business tools to understand whether their idea “can make it” to the market.

The Demonstration Lab also aims to develop entrepreneurial skills that are often lacking in students coming from a scientific backgrouns, such as: market analysis, product strategy, testing, pitching, networking, team leadership, financing, etc.

So far, the results have been incredibly positive. Since 2017, many students and researchers have successfully used Demonstrator Lab to develop their ideas to maturity. This has led to the establishment of new companies offering new products and services. In less than four years, the Demonstration Lab has attracted 92 projects; kicked off 18 start-ups, including private companies and foundations; attracted 47 additional projects that are still under development; trained more than 200 people; raised over 1.5 million euros in grants, without considering private funding.

Interested in learning more? Consult the Demonstrator Lab website!

Authored by Mario Ceccarelli.

Featured image retrieved from the Demonstrator Lab website.

Featured cover image retrieved from Pexels.

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