Venture Academy

Bring your innovation to market with Venture Academy!

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Questions about Venture Academy?

The validation program for startups in Leiden

Launch your startup during the Venture Academy! This is a program for motivated, budding entrepreneurs who are committed to their idea and ready to be part of a community of entrepreneurs, experts and mentors. What makes the Venture Academy different? It is a unique and free program focused on team development and the well-being of founders.

Over the course of 4 months, you’ll attend trainings that strengthen your entrepreneurial skills and build a community with the other participants. In addition, you will receive coaching to help you achieve your goals. Validate your startup under the guidance of Charlie and the other specialized VA trainers!

Launch your startup

Together with other entrepreneurs, experts and mentors, you will learn how to:

  • to validate your business case, specifically focusing on your concept validation, business model and startup pitch;
  • to build a healthy team with a strong focus on mental health, resilience and team alignment;
  • you plan the next steps for your startup, including a funding plan, a go-to-market strategy and finding the right mentors & advisors.

Special Track for Life Sciences & Health startups

Research and deep-tech startups, such as academic spinouts, face different challenges than, say, direct-to-consumer tech propositions. That’s why we offer specialized coaching and networking opportunities for research-based startups.

Through the unlock_ incubation program, we have specialized knowledge and a broad network in the Life Sciences & Health sector. In the past, we have helped startups in the biotech, e-health, medtech, pharmaceutical and diagnostic sectors make significant strides in their development.

*Please note that this is the spring edition brochure. The exact dates of the Fall Edition will follow soon.

Is the Venture Academy something for you?

JA when you:
  • have a scalable business idea based on a technological or scientific innovation.
  • can demonstrate that there is a market need and that your business idea is (technically) feasible.
  • have taken steps to get started, but you are not yet selling your full product or service (an MVP is fine, even preferred).
  • have a clear motivation to want to pursue this startup idea, during and after the program.
  • are available at least two days a week for the duration of the program (September - December), incl. all Fridays.
NEE this program doesn't match:
  • forms of business that are not scalable and innovative - this includes consulting, e-commerce and content creation concepts and any form of agency* - except if it serves as a short-term payoff to a larger, scalable concept.**
  • mature companies launching a new product or service unless it is in the form of a truly independent spin-out.
  • startups from which technical feasibility is not yet proven Complete your research and then please come back to us!
  • you when your product or service is already on the market and you are ready to scale up - then the Sprout program may be a better fit for you.

* Nothing wrong with these forms of business! But this is not what we are focusing on.

**For example, you do freelance consulting in your field so you can pay for the technical development of your startup


See the most frequently asked questions.

Nope, our partners pay for your participation. This comes to about €5,000 per person.

Therefore, we expect you to be respectful of our trainers’ time, and to give 100% effort when you are admitted.

Fill out this form as soon as possible. We will then schedule an intake interview with you. Check out the brochure for the rest of the process.

We are looking for early-stage entrepreneurs who:
1) have an innovative and scalable business idea;
2) a clear motivation for pursuing this idea;
3) have taken some steps to get started;
4) have performed problem validation.

Problem validation means being able to demonstrate that there is a market need and that you know who your potential customers are by doing desk research and talking to people. You don’t need to have a finished product, customers, investors or business plan yet.

If you’re not sure if you meet these criteria, fill out the intake form and we’ll help you figure it out.

No, but you should plan to do so no later than the end of the program.

The Venture Academy consists of a kickoff, 7 full-day sessions, a closing pitch event, Special Track Sessions on “free” Fridays (for Life Sciences & Health startups) and a coaching session every two weeks.

To get the most out of the program, we also ask you to work on your startup between sessions. Overall, expect to spend about 16 hours per week on your startup for the duration of the program, but more = better.

No, all sessions are physical. We believe that physical meetings benefit your participation. This way you can grow more and connect better with the other participants/PLNT Community.

Yes, you certainly can! You can work Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Sandbox. The coffee and tea is free, there are flex spaces, you can brainstorm with other participants from programs, and it is PLNT Students’ primary location.

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