Product Co-Creation Centers
Social entrepreneurs designing sustainable products

Product Co-Creation Center

Since its early days, the UT has pioneered the promotion of high-tech entrepreneurship through a constant engagement in education, research and valorisation activities. Many of the innovative technologies developed at our university have been incubated in our entrepreneurship support centres to result in the creation of new spin-off companies. As a direct consequence, new spin-off companies are boosting the economic and social development of our region, Twente.

Founded in that experience, and driven by the will to help alleviating poverty, a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the entrepreneurship (NIKOS), product development (OPM) and sustainable development (CSTM) departments of our university have been investigating a new approach to dealing with this social challenge.

The result is PC3, a new model to boost socio-economic development through the creation of an environment where the BOP can acquire the required competences and get immerged in the right networks to start-up their own businesses.

In contrast to other approaches, ours focuses on enabling entrepreneurship by engaging the BOP in designing their own products and services, while considering social and environmental sustainability aspects. Doing so, grassroots innovators and entrepreneurs are supported to create real value with local impact.

After three years working on our model, the first PC3 pilot project in Colombia has started. Other regions are expected to start soon. May be you are interested in our approach and want to promote a PC3 project in your country.


Why PC3?


Growing up in Venezuela, Juan experienced the need for a platform for poor people to start a new company. There is so much creativity and ambition, but there is a lack of means to get to a higher socio-economic level. Years later Juan Juaregui-Becker, Laura Franco, Aard Groen, Jaap van Tilburg, Marlies Stuiver and Monica Ramos formed a group with the ambition to create a center where the poor can use their creativity to start new companies.

Laura (CSTM) has a lot of experience in working with people in developing countries. Aard and Jaap (NIKOS) are experts in innovative entrepreneurship and experienced in setting up new businesses with his VentureLab International and Juan's (OPM) field of expertise is design and product development. Monica is a Ph.D. student from Colombia researching how PC3 can be appplied to support social changes to sustainability. She is applying the PC3 method in a rural comunity in Colombia. Marlies is a Ph.D. researching how the Lead User method can be applied in social entreprenuership projects. She is hoping to implement a PC3 program in Enschede and India.

In the last three years, the PC3 project has done and applied research that has resulted in several academic papers, a minor program at the University of Twente, several students thesis and two implementations in Puebla, Mexico. Currently we are working on the implementation of pilot projects in Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.

PC3 integrates the large experience that VentureLab International has in incubating high-tech bussinesses, with the CSTM experience in Sustainable Development and the OPM expertise in product development, to offer a program that pre-incubates BoP designers and entrepreneurs to becoming new startups and lead. got more involved which greatly increased the groups expertise in business startups. Together we created the concept of a Product Co-Creation Center (PC3) for the Bottom of the Pyramid.

Product Co-Creation Center

The focus of our project is on alleviating poverty. In our Product Co-Creation Center we will co-create innovative products and co-venture new businesses. This means we will develop new products together with the poor communities and create new startup companies that will all serve this poor community. One company might develop a low-cost cooking device that runs on solar energy, a second company might create a cleaning service for people who cannot afford a washing machine while a third company start producing specific car parts creating lots of job opportunities.

While governments are working on reducing poverty rates in a top-down approach, our bottom-up approach will reach the poor significantly faster.


How does it work?

How does it work on macro scale?


The Product Co-Creation Center uses the following steps to co-create innovative products for people in the BoP.

Develop tailor made approach in interested regions together with regional partners and sponsors. Regions include deprived regions in the western world.

Find creative or skilled people (inventors) and people with a feeling for business opportunities (entrepreneurs)

Filter for potential to get several project teams of highly motivated people with promising ideas. The focus will be on ideas with a positive impact on the socio-economical development of the BoP community.

Invite project teams to run our pre-incubator program to develop their idea into an innovative product together with experienced designers (co-creation) with sustainable business models created in cooperation with experienced business people (co-venture).

Frequently evaluate the teams progress and guide them to become a StartUp company. Depending on the business idea, the team will go to market, continue its development at an business incubator or pitch the idea to potential investors.



Dr. M.L. Franco-Garcia (Laura) is Assistant Professor of Environmental policy and social responsibility strategies at the Department of Governance and Technology for Sustainability (CSTM), University of Twente. Post-doctorate of the Hokkaido University in Japan (nanotechnology). PhD and master’s degrees obtained in France on Environmental Sciences. Environmental Engineer by training at the “Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana” in Mexico City.

Ir. J.J. van Tilburg (Jaap) is entrepreneur, consultant, project manager business development projects and coach for entrepreneurs. Areas of expertise are innovation, entrepreneurship development, regional development, internationalisation, technology transfer, university spin-off promotion and sciencepark development. Works as private consultant and is strongly connected to the University of Twente.

Dr. ir. J.M. Jauregui-Becker (Juan) is Assistant professor in design engineering at the Lab of Design, Production and Management of the University of Twente. His research focus is Lean Design and Lean Product Development. He Holds a Ph.D. in Engineering Design and a M.Sc. in Mechanical Automation, both at the University of Twente. He obtained his PhD at the Universidad de Los Andes, in Merida Venezuela, in 2003.

Prof. Dr. A. Groen (Aard) is professor of Innovative Entrepreneurship and scientific director of NIKOS (the Netherlands Institute for Knowledge Intensive Entrepreneurship) at the University of Twente, the Netherlands. NIKOS research focuses on knowledge intensive entrepreneurship in networks and. contributes to IGS, the Institute for Innovation and Governance Studies, where Groen is leading the research on “Innovation & Entrepreneurship”.

M.Sc. M. Ramos (Monica) Monica holds a bachelor degree in industrial engineering and a MSc in International Development. She has more than 10-years experience on developmet projects management. Currently, she is leading a PC3 implementation in Santa Rosa del Sur, Colombia, as part of her PhD research in Innovation and Governance for Sustainable Development at University of Twente in The Netherlands. Her research interests are transitions to sustainability, social entrepreneurship and grassroots innovations and sustainable value chains.

M.Sc. M. Stuiver (Marlies) holds an MBA degree from the University of Twente. Marlies is currently doing research to the implementation of a PC3 program in Enschede, The Netherlands. More specifically, she is interested in understanding the impact that such a program ca have on low income communities in the context of a developed country as the Netherlands.



These projects really inspired us to start our project and use our capability to co-create innovative products to heal the world and make it a better place:

Plastic Bottle Lighting


D-Rev: ReMotion

Apopo: Hero Rats

Cola life

Adaptive Eyewear


For you!

Get involved

We believe that PC3 is specially interesting for individuals and organisations who are interested and active in supporting social entrepreneurship projects. We hope to engage organisations as:

NGOS, as its design driven approach stimulates local communities in creating their own solutions;

Governmental institutions, as a tool to boost local economies and initiate long term value creation;

Multinational companies, as an opportunity to co-venture and understand BOP’s unattended market needs;

Research centers, as a new platform to understand new paths to support societies transition to sustainability.

Please contact us if you believe that PC3 can help developing your region!