The Kuyper Challenge

Have you been sitting on an amazing idea for a start-up but need help getting it off the ground? This is your chance! Convince the jury of the Kuyper Challenge that your idea has what it takes to become a success, and win the seed money and coaching you need to get started.


VU Amsterdam is brimming with innovative ideas – ideas that could grow into successful businesses. This year, we are celebrating our 140th anniversary by encouraging and supporting our most enterprising students, alumni and PhD candidates like never before. With the Kuyper Challenge, we are bringing the reality of VU Amsterdam as an incubator for start-ups one step closer, staying true to our DNA. After all, our entrepreneurial founder Abraham Kuyper not only founded a university – he also started a newspaper, a new Christian denomination and the first Dutch political party.

Sign up your start-up
Do you share Kuyper’s entrepreneurial spirit? Then sign up for the Kuyper Challenge, and you might take home the very first Kuyper Award! You don't need to have an up-and-running start-up. A good idea will suffice. To sign up, send a one-page business plan plus a one-minute video pitch for your start-up to [email protected]. The deadline is 1 December 2020. 

•    At least one third of the start-up must be owned by VU students, alumni and/or former or current PhD candidates. 
•    Participating alumni and former PhD candidates must have graduated or obtained a PhD from VU Amsterdam no more than five years ago. 
•    The prize money will be paid out to a legal entity registered with the Chamber of Commerce for the purpose of realizing the winning start-up. 

What can you win? 
The top three ideas will be officially nominated for the award and each earn 4,000 euros of seed capital, while the winner of the Kuyper Award is set to take home another 5,000 euros. In addition, all three nominated start-ups are invited to participate in a tailor-made coaching programme. 
An independent five-member jury presides over the nomination process, and the nominees will be announced at the VU New Year’s Gala on 28 January. The winner will be revealed in June, as part of the Abraham Kuyper Lecture. 

The jury
•    Ben Tiggelaar: behavioural scientist, international guest speaker and author of bestselling books on management
•    Davide Iannuzzi: professor of Experimental Physics and designer and director of the Demonstrator Lab
•    Marry de Gaay Fortman: lawyer, partner at Houthoff and former chairperson of Topvrouwen
•    Melvin Tjoe Nij: founder of The Other Network and board member at VNO-NCW Metropool Amsterdam
•    Piek Vossen: professor Computational Lexicology & Terminology Lab (CLTL), Winner of the Spinoza Price and member of the KNAW and the Network Instituut 

Get inspired! 
VU Amsterdam has always been a breeding groung for special startups: from a high-speed search engine that uses artificial intelligence to find technological solutions to companies’ problems  to a homework tutoring service for low-income secondary school students. Get inspired by the stories of Findest and Stichting Leren voor de Toekomst.  

‘Entrepreneurs should feel the freedom to do things differently and to ask questions’, says management guru Ben Tiggelaar. Ben obtained his PhD from VU Amsterdam on behavioural change in organizations. Listen to the advice of this bestselling author of books on management for useful tips.

Kuyper Year

The Kuyper Challenge is part of VU Amsterdam’s festive Kuyper Year, in which we celebrate our 140th anniversary with various activities, and by highlighting themes that are as important to us today as they were to our founder: democracy, diversity and social entrepreneurship. You are warmly invited to participate in the anniversary activities scheduled for the 2020-2021 academic year, which you can find at