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STAR/T Startup Accelerator Refugees Twente

Living Smart Campus

Project information

STAR/T is an initiative of the University of Twente and Mindt, in collaboration with the ROZ GroupTIB-advies and Delitelabs. The University of Twente, Mindt and Delitelabs have experience in offering programs, specifically aimed at innovation and entrepreneurship. ROZ Group and TIB-advies have both experience in supporting entrepreneurs and assessing business plans.

Our vision

STAR-T will be a living lab where entrepreneurial refugees will be supported in developing their products and business models while UT scientists make observations and research to further understand the value creation process carried out by grassroots innovators and social entrepreneurs, a field of science booming in worldwide forefront academic and public sector environments.


This initiative is grounded on the Product Co Creation Centers (PC3) project carried by the department of Design Production & Management (Juan Jauregui) at ET, CSTM department of Governance and Technology for Sustainability (Laura Franco-García) at BMS and NIKOS the department of Entrepreneurship, Strategy, Innovation and Marketing (Jaap van Tilburg) also at BMS. PC3 is a multidisciplinary project researching the development of entrepreneurial eco-systems for grassroots innovators and social entrepreneurs. Currently, 3 PhDs students are actively doing research in this field. Each PhD is combining knowledge from the 3 departments in their research. The project has published over 10 research papers in the last 3 years, including  presentations in internationally recognized conferences. This project has also installed such an entrepreneurial support program in Colombia, obtaining successful results. This program in Colombia served the purpose of supporting grassroots innovators in setting up their business while acting as a living lab where our PhD student collected data and experiences to support her research project.

Project description

The goal of the START-T program is to aid entrepreneurial refugees in developing their idea into a product or service while developing their business skills. At the end of the program, we strive for having 30% of the participants with a registered company with enough funding to function one year. START-T focuses on entrepreneurs with ideas that have the potential to become innovative products/services. Therefore, the type of companies that are expected to result will vary from new innovative business models of existing products/services up to new innovative products/services.

The project is will be carried as a joint venture with several local organizations.

  • ROZ will provide training to support the development on entrepreneur skills.
  • TIB will support people that were successful entrepreneurs in the country of origin that want to create a new enterprise here.
  • Mindt will run the incubation program together with the support of DeliteLabs, a social incubator in Amsterdam. 
  • The PC3 project team will do research how such an incubator can create sustainable social value.
  • UT Staff members will collaborate providing coaching and workshops on several fields, ranging from design and styling to business development. 

Get involved

START-T offers the opportunity to empathize with refugees by sharing your individual talents for a meaningful project. We need colleagues who are willing to share and learn to move from product & service development to the creation of spin-offs that create sustainable value. This requires a great deal of multi-disciplinary collaborative expertise, collective creativity and enriching physical environment therefore we want you!! Join us!

We are looking for staff members that:

  • Can provide a 4 hour workshop 
  • That are interesting in researching the process
  • That want to coach a participant.  

A start up incubation program

During 5 weeks, participants will receive training on design thinking and LEAN start up techniques. We offer several workshops, work together to develop and test a  prototype and support participants to pitch your business idea. 

The first week is about creating teams and how to start a business in the Netherlands. During the second week, we focus on creating an idea. The third week is all about developing the business model. Building a prototype is on the menu in week four. And finally, in the fifth week, we will teach participants how to pitch their business idea. 

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My project updates

2 Oct 2018

Twente cooperation awarded with nomination for the ESF Award 2018!

It has recently been announced that STAR/T is one of the ten finalists of the ESF Award 2018. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment has qualified STAR/T as a special project. Partly because the activities are developed with a subsidy from the European Social Fund (ESF) that is deployed regionally. This nomination is therefore a crowning achievement for the cooperation in Twente.

STAR/T is a Twente project to help status holders to start a business in the Netherlands. In the past year, some 35 participants have followed various training courses to further expand their idea into a working business model. And the first entrepreneurs have already started. Perhaps the best known is Fadi, who started a bicycle shop on the Haaksbergerstraat in Enschede. But recently Zabi (import/export), Alias (interior designer) and Dapo (entrepreneurial artist) also started their entrepreneurial activities.


Thanks to the nomination, a professional promotional film of the project was made this summer. In order to determine the final winner, the Ministry organized a voting round. The five projects with the most votes will have the opportunity to present themselves once more to the jury during the final on 7 November. The whole month of October there will be a vote on the website

Wednesday 7 November 2018 the annual ESF event will take place. Part of the event is the presentation of the ESF Award. With this award, the Ministry wants to reflect on the special projects and activities that have been made possible with a subsidy from the European Social Fund.

Are we going to win the ESF Award this year with STAR/T? Then we need every voice! So yours too. Go to and vote for your favourite; STAR/T

8 Jun 2018

22 June: Event: Star/T Mini Symposium Supporting Entrepreneurial Refugees

About five year ago, three departments of the University of Twente started a multidisciplinary project researching the development of entrepreneurial eco-systems for grassroots innovators and social entrepreneurs in deprived settings. This project was referred to as Product Co Creation Centers (PC3). Currently, 3 PhDs students are actively doing research in this field. By initiating the Startup Accelerator for Refugees (STAR-T) project under the Living Smart Campus platform of the University of Twente, it has been possible to combine research with practice by setting up a business incubation program for refugees in partnership with Mindt, the ROZ Group, TIB-advies and Delitelabs. At 22 June we will organize an closuring event to tell you all about the project and the outcomes. 

You are welcome to join us! Visit the eventpage for more information about the programme and the registrationform.

28 May 2018

New group of participants

On May 28, a new group of participants has started the STAR/T project. Over the next 7 weeks they will learn what is involved in starting up your business and eventually developing a business plan for themselves.

The training will be given by Hanna and Negin from DeliteLabs. They are very experienced in this area and will bring out the best from all new participants in the coming weeks. The first week was dedicated to getting acquainted and we were treated to a nice piece of music.

10 Apr 2018

A new STAR/T

From May 14 we start with a new group of participants. These will initially go into a 7-week process. In these 7 weeks they will receive training 2 days a week, follow workshops and be intensively guided to give shape to their ideas and plans. We will try to set up a dual system for this group and integrate the language lessons into the project.

10 Apr 2018

The first succes story: Fadi's new bike shop!

Curious about his story? Read his interview in the Tubantia (In Dutch).

9 Mar 2018

How are the participants?

The 20 participants of STAR/T are fully engaged in updating their business skills through courses and workshops. The stages in which they are located are very different. One participant has already started and has his own bicycle shop on the Padangstraat in Enschede. A second is ready and is busy finding the most suitable location for his car company. The expectation is that he will actually start in mid-April. A participant has also set to work as an interior architect within an existing architects' bureau. Initially as a trainee, but after a while, after having obtained software certificates, this will be converted as a ZZP function within that company. There is also a participant who has decided to study at the University of Delft.

The rest of the participants can be divided into roughly 2 groups. Participants who know very clearly what they want but do not yet know how to get there and participants who are still floating in the choice of the type of company and which market they want to tap into.

During the workshops we hope that this last group will get more and more clearer which way they want to go and where they need help.

12 Feb 2018

The start of the acceleration phase

The third phase of the STAR/T project started on 12 January. The Acceleration phase. This is all about acquiring basic skills for starting up your own company. Concretizing the business plan, building a network and learning how to pitch your idea. Twenty participants have the opportunity to join workshops given by employees of the University of Twente.

24 Nov 2017

You can help to give the business ideas a boost; donate

You can help to give the business ideas a boost. Your donation is essential for us to be able to provide the basic needs such as workplaces and business club memberships for our participants to kick-start their ideas.

In addition, the STAR/T participants also want to contribute to emergency relief for their fellow refugees who are currently stuck to Lesbos, Greece. So, for every euro you give, we donate 50% to Sheltersuit to support their action for Lesbos. Read more about how you can help.

14 Nov 2017

Pitch night!

After five intensive weeks of training, workshops, official moments, laughing, crying, diners & drinks, struggling, working together, friendship, entrepreneurship, passion, business models, failure, learning and getting better, the pitch night was the ultimate climax. But ... ..this is just the beginning.

Actually, the real work starts from now on. In the coming months, the participants will continue to build their business in various programs. All with one goal. Realize their dream. You do not have to miss anything, because we will keep you informed.

7 Nov 2017

Program for entrepreneurial refugees at UT

A group of refugees is working at the University of Twente this week, developing their prototypes and business ideas within the program STAR/T, which was initiated and designed by the UT. 

‘We have been trying to get the program off the ground for a long time and we are happy to say that the first edition began several weeks ago,’ explains UT researcher Juan Jauregui Becker, who was one of the main initiators of this Living Smart Campus project. Together with his UT colleagues – Laura Franco Garcia (CSTM), Aard Groen and Jaap van Tilburg (both NIKOS) – Becker helped to design the program, acquire funding and recruit the participants. The first attendants are currently in the DesignLab, working on their business plans with the help of UT students and trainers from a startup school Delitelabs and a startup studio Mindt.

Want to know more about the program, the passion and ideas of the refugees? Read the whole article from UToday.

18 Oct 2017

Kick-off Star-T programme

After two weeks of hard work we had the official kickoff last Wednesday together with partners and stakeholders. Very happy Dapo and Mariam gave a glimpse of their dreams and ambitions. A lot of positive energy!