By Emily Vierthaler
— AUC is no stranger to the entrepreneurial spirit. Over the years there has been a dorm-run sushi restaurant, a homemade curry business, and most recently, a tea house run from one of the dorm common rooms.
Despite big ideas, for student entrepreneurs the jump to an actual office space is often a challenging one, says Dr. Bram Kuijken, coordinator of the Entrepreneurship Minor and co-director of the Entrepreneurship Master at UvA. Last year he noticed that his own students in the Entrepreneurship Minor had this difficulty. As part of the program, they had to start revenue-generating businesses, but many found it hard to access affordable working spaces.
To help the students get started, he convinced the Faculty of Economics to set up a coworking space: The Nursery, which opened its doors in October of last year.
Bright white with minimalistic furniture and motivating art on the walls, The Nursery offers 25 desk spaces of five to six square meters each.
The Nursery is the newest addition to a series of existing coworking spaces by UvA. There is also the Humanities Lab, Law Lab, and perhaps most familiarly, Startup Village in Science Park, which is run by ACE, the joint incubator of UvA, VU, HvA and Amsterdam UMC.
All students who have taken one class or more from UvA’s Faculty of Economics and Business are eligible to join The Nursery, and that includes AUC students.
Dr. Kuijken says that The Nursery was originally intended to be at UvA’s Roeterseiland campus near the Amsterdam Business School. However, the Binnengasthuis, a UvA humanities building in De Wallen neighbourhood, was chosen instead due to its history of renting space to UvA-affiliated companies. The Faculty of Business and Economics rented a few units to make available to the students, and thus The Nursery was born.
“The idea is not to make money, but to facilitate low-cost office spaces to students,” Dr. Kuijken says. “One desk costs 25 Euro per month as opposed to 150 to 300 Euro per month for the more commercial spaces.”
Although it is not profit-driven, The Nursery does want to break even to cover its operating costs, Dr. Kuijken says. As of now many desks are empty; he expects them to fill in one to two months.
Several options are available for coworking students: a fixed desk, a flex desk, or, for larger initiatives, a whole room for two to four persons.
The larger rooms have been home to two student companies for several months: Tournify, an app company that facilitates the scheduling of thousands of sporting tournaments each year, and Realite, an app company that enables landlords to efficiently manage up to 100+ properties. Last week a third company, StudentDesign, moved into its own large room: a platform that showcases the designs of students from around the world for institutions and a base of 200,000 creative followers.
All students who are part of the Faculty of Economics and Business can apply for a desk or room at The Nursery. Even taking one class is enough to be considered a part of the Faculty, hence AUC students are able to qualify. The Nursery comes with additional mentorship opportunities and a network of students, professors, and other business professionals.
It is fitting that The Nursery makes its home in the Binnengasthuis, Dr. Kuijken says. After all, the building used to be a hospital with a large nursery. And just like a nursery, it intends to nurture new life.