Arian Oosthoek, an alumnus of the master in marketing at Erasmus School of Economics, founded Valory after winning the ESE Innovation Tournament. The victory in the national finals of the Flex Innovation Fund 2015 yielded a prize of 79,000 EUR for Valory.
Valory wants to help mobilize academic knowledge and use it to create value for companies seeking unique expertise that, nowadays, may be hidden in scientific institutions. To achieve this goal, Valory developed an online network that matches companies with talented scientists, streamlining the transferal of valuable knowledge from academia to businesses.
The Flex Innovation Fund is an initiative by several key parties in the Dutch labor market with the goal of stimulating innovation and increasing flexibility in the labor market. This year’s jury was composed by successful entrepreneurs and executives at companies such as Randstad, FS Group, ABU, ABN AMRO and by the responsible for entrepreneurship at the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. The jury chose Valory as the most innovative business plan and the one with highest impact in the flex market among all startup candidates, nationally, in 2015.
The idea behind Valory was born after Arian Oosthoek and Bowen Yang, a colleague at the master in marketing, submitted their idea to the ESE Innovation Tournament, a grassroots innovation process organized by Prof. Stefan Stremersch and dr. Nuno Camacho and aimed at promoting innovation and entrepreneurship among students at Erasmus School of Economics. The tournament, which began on May 1, 2013, started with an idea call encouraging all students at ESE to propose new ideas in four dimensions: (i) education, (ii) knowledge creation, (iii) knowledge dissemination and (iv) internationalization. Valory was one of the five finalists selected from the 146 excellent ideas submitted to the tournament. At the time, Arian and Bowen were invited to pitch their idea to a grand jury composed by senior officials at Erasmus School of Economics (including Dean Prof. Philip Hans Franses) and by other representatives of the organizing committee.
After winning the ESE Innovation Tournament, Valory received subsequent coaching and support from Prof. Stremersch and dr. Camacho, who offered advice to the team and encouraged them to found a startup around their idea. Subsequently, Valory received support from the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship. Winning the Flex Innovation Fund 2015 again confirms that the Valory team has been able to mature their idea into a very promising value proposition. At the event, Arian Oosthoek was visibly satisfied by the honor:
"This is a huge boost to our business. The recognition of well-established judges that saw international potential for us is great."
Prof. Stremersch also expressed his appreciation and satisfaction for Valory’s achievement:
“This award shows that we have very strong entrepreneurial talent among our students. Furthermore, it illustrates that grassroots innovation processes, such as the ESE Innovation Tournament, are an excellent way to discover such entrepreneurial talent and help them transform their ideas into actionable business plans, capable of becoming successful start-ups. More in general, it shows that, when given enough autonomy and appropriate channels to express their ideas, entrepreneurial students or employees can build great things.”