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There's two options
  • Graduate in your own startup
  • Graduate in an existing startup

At the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, you can graduate in a startup. This graduation allows you to apply your design education in an entrepreneurial context. Not every startup or entrepreneurial idea applies for this type of graduation. Here you can see the requirements.

Requirements for both
  • A startup with some 'meat on the bones'
  • A project, case or challenge within this startup
  • It needs to align with the requirements of a graduation project for your master (SPD, DfI or IPD).

1) Meat on the bones

In order to find a relevant (design) challenge, there needs to be some body already. We look out for three drivers for success.


A team (pref 3 or more) should have committed to making this a success and spend time on this startup. No flying solo. This is not debatable.

Core concept to work with

The core solution is defined. If your core concept is not complete, we suggest to take the Build Your Startup Course first. Here you can develop a startup from the ground up. You can identify this by seeing that the startup knows what industry and market segment they are in and what solution they offer.

Early traction and validation

We prefer to work with startups that already have clear signals the market wants their solution. Sales is a great identifier. However, sometimes sales are further down the road. Then we look for other signs of traction such as beta sign-ups, letters of intent, successful prototypes, experiments. If you are unsure, it’s best to schedule a quick call with Jeroen.

2. Project, case or challenge

It is important to understand that an entrepreneurial graduation is not just being an entrepreneur for six months and getting a Master degree. That would not meet the requirements of a graduation thesis.

We need to find a project within your startup that matches the requirements for your master’s graduation. Below you can see some examples per master that might inspire you.

Together with your graduate team, you will find a project within this startup. We expect you to work on this project at least 4 days a week. That means that your regular entrepreneurial activities will be downscaled by quite a bit.

3. Alignment with your masters requirements

East master has different requirements. For instance, IPD requires tangible product design. SPD requires an inherent strategic design challenge. Look this up at your masters.

When you can not graduate in a startup

  • When you only have an idea that you want to develop. For this, a course such as Build Your Startup is ideal. From this course, you could build a startup in which you do your graduation.
  • You just want to explore a market and see if you can find an opportunity. There is too much uncertainty in such a project that it is impossible to qualify for this graduation.
  • When you are flying solo. There needs to be a startup team conquering a market.
PhD Researcher
Jeroen  Coelen

Msc. Jeroen Coelen