YES!Delft innovators are offered training, assistance and the use of in-house facilities, e.g. to build prototypes, assess technical feasibility of concepts, test market potential, adapt products and services to final customer needs and prospect for (venture) capital.
In its four years of existence, YES!Delft (founded in May 2005) has already set over 40 teams of innovators on the track towards successful entrepreneurship.
During the visit, young entrepreneurs explained their technological and market trumps and their business perspectives. A tour of the premises provided a view of the broader business model and support facilities of YES!Delft, including access to cutting-edge technological, scientific and business know-how, operational guidance and infrastructural support that the young entrepreneurs enjoy.
The exchange of ideas between innovation policy actors and the young entrepreneurs clearly demonstrated the benefits of upgrading innovators’ entrepreneurial and marketing skills. At the same time, it showed that public actors can play a role both in helping innovators to develop their concepts (by providing training, coaching and testing facilities, for example) and in providing a market pull for products and services that are ready for market (e.g. by acting as launching customers, providing incentives to market actors to adopt new products – especially if they offer societal benefits such as reducing traffic congestion or the emission of pollutants), or in providing the superstructure required to lower the market entry threshold for innovative products (by setting up charging points for electrical cars, for example).
A further key element of the YES!Delft concept is the fact that it forms an innovation and entrepreneurship cluster, where different innovators can inspire each other in a healthy atmosphere of 'competitive collegiality'.
Networking among YES!Delft innovators is an important source for exploiting positive spill-overs and externalities between them. Moreover, YES!Delft as a whole also reaps the fruits of its vast network of potential business partners, investors, clients and world-class knowledge centres around the world. In addition to its close links with the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), YES!Delft also maintains strong ties with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, the University of Cambridge (UK) and Shanghai University (China). In addition, YES!Delft participates in the Holland Program on Entrepreneurship (HOPE), a strategic joint venture which is unprecedented in Europe, involving the TU Delft, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Leiden University, with a view to boosting innovative entrepreneurship.