VU signs DNNL agreement to expand diversity, sustainability and entrepreneurship

On April 16, President of the Executive Board Margrethe Jonkman and Chief Impact Officer Davide Iannuzzi have signed an agreement with the Dutch New Narrative Lab (DNNL). "With this agreement, we fortify our collaboration, reaffirming our dedication to diversity, sustainability, and entrepreneurship - values exemplified by DNNL. An endeavor that aligns with the educational and research efforts we stand for as a university," says President Jonkman.

The mission of the DNNL Foundation is to improve access to innovative entrepreneurship for all’underrepresented groups in the Dutch startup scene (e.g. women, persons with a migration background, LGBTQ+, neurodiversity but also scientists). DNNL aims to foster the hidden gem of diversity and inclusion in startups, scale-ups and corporate ventures in the Benelux and Germany, with economic ties to the Dutch economy.


VU Amsterdam shares this mission and is highly active in the field of entrepreneurship with initiatives as VU StartHUb and the Demonstrator Lab. Through this collaboration, VU Amsterdam aims to elevate its ambitions in inclusivity and entrepreneurship to a higher level. "As a university, we believe it is important not only to strive for a better future but also to give back that knowledge to society. Only then can you, as an educational institution, make maximum impact," says Chief Impact Officer and Professor in Experimental Physics Davide Iannuzzi.

DNNL focusses on three matters. First, she provides an ecosystem monitor, a kind of ’diversity & inclusion’ thermometer for the NL startup world. Secondly DNNL provides a ’sales driven’ entrepreneurial lab, a breeding ground, in technical jargon an incubator, for entrepreneurs from both underrepresented and overrepresented groups who recognize the innovative power of diversity & inclusion and want to monetize it professionally. And thirdly DNNL collaborates with several partners to build a media platform; not only for more visibility for the entrepreneurs involved, but above all to tilt the dominant standard image of ’the innovative entrepreneur’.

Entrepreneur in residence

The DNNL initiative was developed from a Diversity Exploration commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate in the Dutch startup ecosystem. The Exploration was conducted by serial tech entrepreneur, Investor and Multi-Board Member, Ruben Brave. Brave is also well-known within the VU community. An entrepreneurship case about him has been developed for use in Bachelor’s and Master’s entrepreneurship education, serving as both a resource and inspiration. Brave is proud to also become part of the VU as an entrepreneur in residence, which is unique as such an appointment has never happened before at the university. "Together with VU Amsterdam, we are taking a significant step forward in creating equal opportunities for all’underrepresented groups in the Dutch startup scene."

Entrepreneurship at VU

VU Amsterdam believes it is imperative to introduce students to entrepreneurship and empower researchers to disseminate their findings to society through entrepreneurial endeavors. By fostering an entrepreneurial mindset, VU Amsterdam wants not only equip students with the skills needed for success in a dynamic world but also enable researchers to create tangible impact beyond academia, driving innovation and societal progress. Read more about VU’s mission on entrepreneurship here.