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Northern Business Safari celebrates the strategic cooperation between FEB and Oranjewoud Export Academy 

03 June 2024
The participating students, together with Assistant Professor Evelien Croonen, in front of the Oranjewoud Estate

The Faculty of Economics & Business (FEB) and the Oranjewoud Export Academy (Oranjewoud) organized their very first “Northern Business Safari” at the end of May. In December 2023, FEB and Oranjewoud signed a strategic cooperation agreement. The Northern Business Safari fits with one of the main objectives of this strategic cooperation, namely building a ‘talentpool’ of students with whom the Oranjewoud members can be in touch for projects and job opportunities.  

During the Northern Business Safari, a group of 22 students and lecturers with diverse educational and cultural backgrounds visited three different Oranjewoud members in the province of Friesland. Oranjewoud is a member-based organization that aims to provide a platform where high-quality knowledge and ambitious entrepreneurs from the Northern Netherlands come together. A platform where entrepreneurs can acquire and bring knowledge that enables international growth.

Most participants were Master’s students in Strategic Innovation Management and International Business & Management. The Oranjewoud member companies that participated were OG Clean Fuels, Nedcam Shaping Technology, and Servilocker. FEB students typically do not meet such companies during FEB career events. Assistant Professor Evelien Croonen, the initiator of the Northern Business Safari: “With these ‘safaris’ we create an opportunity for FEB students to meet ‘hidden gems’, who are typically important and innovative players in their international niche markets. For the companies the safaris create an opportunity to meet and share ideas with talented and international FEB students.”

Creative problem-solving sessions

The Business Safari kicked off at the Oranjewoud estate, which is the home of the Oranjewoud Export Academy. Bram Kruijt from Oranjewoud welcomed the students and provided a brief guided tour in the estate.  Croonen explained the objectives and set-up of the day, including the so-called ‘creative problem-solving sessions’. After meeting with OG Clean Fuels at the Oranjewoud estate, the students and lecturers jointly travelled to the company locations of Nedcam and Servilocker. The company owners and/or managers gave brief presentations about their companies and organized guided tours through their buildings, after which the students engaged in the creative problem-solving sessions on questions posed by the companies.

The companies posed questions on how to deal with talent development, sustainability and new product introductions. Each session had four different stages, including a ‘wild brainstorm’ on ideas and a final stage in which the students and practitioners jointly reflected on the ideas raised by the students. These sessions had value for both the students and the practitioners. As one of the students said: “It was interesting to see that there are opportunities to be employed as an international student in the North”. One of the companies put it as follows: "We had a very inspiring morning with the enthusiastic students from the University of Groningen, during which we were surprised by their creative approaches to our question. We were also able to share with them how interesting it is to work within an international scale-up, where you can make a significant impact within an organization." Another company said: “The enthusiasm and critical perspective of the students ensured that the core of the case was quickly reached. Students were not hindered by existing paths in our organizations, which lead to surprising ideas!”.

Improving employability and obtaining fresh insights

The concept of a Business Safari is not new to FEB: Croonen introduced this teaching concept some years ago within the Small Business & Entrepreneurship track of the MSc Business Administration. After winning FEB’s Best Practice in Teaching and Learning Award in February 2023, Croonen has continued to develop the Safari concept. The basic idea of a Business Safari is that students visit multiple practitioners, such as (small) business owners/entrepreneurs and managers, in their own ‘habitats’ during the course of one day. These visits are aimed at improving student employability by providing students with insights on the practical applicability of their theoretical knowledge and insights on possible internships and/or job opportunities. For the companies/practitioners, the Safaris provide an opportunity to obtain fresh insights from talented young people and to be in touch with potential employees.

More information:

If you want more information on the Safaris (either as an educator, a student or practitioner), please contact dr. Evelien P.M. Croonen.

Last modified:03 June 2024 2.32 p.m.

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