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EYES project started: Empowering Youth through Entrepreneurial Skills

Thanks to its Impact Program, Tilburg University has become a partner in a new European project to develop coaching for young people who do not have a job and are not in any form of education or training. The project is called EYES: Empowering Youth through Entrepreneurial Skills. The City of Tilburg is participating as well.

Within EYES, five large northern European cities, NGOs from those cities, and three universities collaborate to develop a new methodology for personalized coaching of so-called NEETS: young people who are Not in Employment, Education or Training. In Northwestern Europe, 14 percent of the young people aged between 15 and 34 qualify as such, mainly in the larger cities. Because they are hard to reach for authorities and social work, they run the risk of long-term exclusion from the job market.


The European Union wants to focus on entrepreneurship education to offer young people more opportunities, but a systematic approach is lacking. The EYES project addresses this problem by combining entrepreneurship education with personal coaching and a digital platform to offer young people services they would otherwise have refused.

In the five participating cities (Tilburg, the Ruhr district, Greater London, the ‘Flemish diamond’ between Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp, and Louvain, and the city of Lille, France), EYES wants to reach 1,000 of the 100,000 NEETs: 400 NEETs will make use of regular social services and 25 youngsters will become starting entrepreneurs. The EYES innovation network will further develop the new approach and transfer it to other cities. Ultimately, the EYES platform is to be integrated into other Smart-Cities platforms.

Contributing knowledge and measuring results

On behalf of Tilburg University, dr. Sonja Bekker and Professor Ton Wilthagen (both from Tilburg Law School) will provide academic knowledge on the labor market, youth unemployment, and NEETS towards developing the prototype for the coaching as well as a training module for coaches. In addition, they will collect data and measure the results of the project, that forms part of Tilburg University’s Impact Program on Empowering the Resilient Society. The other participating universities are those of Louvain (Belgium) and Greenwich (UK). 

logo Interreg

EYES is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the Interreg NWE (Northwestern Europe) program. This program was set up to foster transnational collaboration within Northwestern Europe, to improve citizens’ quality of life, and to stimulate cohesion within the regions. The project was started up on June 1, 2018, and will run for three years.  

Further reading:

Bekker, S., Wesseling, W. & Calon, E. (2018). Youth employment policies in the Netherlands, EXCEPT Working Papers, WP No 37. Tallinn University, Tallinn.