Failing Forward, an inspirational conference about success and… failure!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016, 9:14 | Category : Masters
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On Wednesday November 16, 2016, Master of Innovation and Entrepreneurship students got the great opportunity to participate in the Failing Forward conference, an inspirational conference where European entrepreneurs share their honest testimonial about the ups and especially the downs of starting an own business.


The Flemish Agency Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Agentschap Innoveren en Ondernemen) and organized once again their annual conference “Failing Forward” on November 16, 2016 in Brussels. The aim of this conference is to change the hard-rooted mentality in Flanders and to celebrate failure (as well as success).

Those of us who want to start a business, will have heard this already all too often – “why?”. Why aren’t you taking that well paid job instead of starting your business? Why can’t you be happy with your current situation? Why do you want to put everything at risk? It is exactly that mentality that is holding Flanders back and that Failing Forward wants to change. Indeed, starting a business never happens without risk, falling is part of the process and it’s by getting back on our feet that we learn. It’s with this message that Failing Forward will raise awareness about the topic in the coming four years, because failing is not contagious, success is.

Jef Colruyt (Colruyt Group), Lut Wyers (COCOMO and, Gemma Galdon Clavell (Eticas), Gert Bergen (advisor innovation and economic policy), Bart de Pauw (actor and screenwriter), Gerald Goldstein (Peak), Thomas Joos (innovator), Jannie Haek (National Lottery), and Michèle Sioen (VBO-FEB) all have one thing in common, well more than one thing actually. Firstly, they are all entrepreneurs – some have inherited a family business, some were appointed to the job, and others just started a whole new business from scratch. But their other point in common is maybe less obvious. They have not always been successful – somewhere in their careers, they have failed, but it didn’t hold them back from succeeding in the end. During the whole day, they broke the taboo about failing and shared with the audience their testimony. For most of them, it was the first time they talk about it in public, which made it even more authentic and powerful.

During the afternoon, three parallel sessions were also organized: power meetings, workshops, and a LIFE panel discussion. The first session was especially interesting for MIE students. Power meetings were 1-to-1 meetings with expert mentors and entrepreneurs in the field of Sales & Marketing, Funding, Growth, and Business Modeling and the perfect occasion to pitch and get feedback for our new venture proposal. The workshops organized by the organizing partners, discussed the topics of strategic value management (EY) and common pitfalls in big company transformation (ING). Finally, the LIFE panel discussion showed us results from a European study about the startup mentality and the main problems during different stages of growth.


If you liked what you read and you believe starting a business is not without risk and it’s OK to take them, if you also want to change this mentality in Flanders and want to help spread the word, then sign this manifesto:

Until next time,



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