Community Driven Innovators

Do you see yourself as an innovator? Do you believe in the power of communities for economic and social inclusion and perhaps strive for a career in community driven innovation?  You want to work with real clients on real projects with real deadlines. You have an open mind and are willing to reach out to (prospective) community members for input. In this minor you will work for more than 4 months on real cases with professionals and contribute to the United Nations Social Development goals.

In spite of cultural differences, the value of having strong communities is universal. Stronger communities enable emotional support, access to the resources and networks of other community members, exchange of knowledge and skills that lead to personal and professional development, friendships that add joy to life. On top of that, communities can co-own a company or organisation they are connected to, which could provide economic stability for both the community and the company or organisation. A growing number of organisations, small and large, are open to this new approach. The world is looking for that next league of innovators who can make the economy (more) crisis-proof. This minor will prepare you for building a resilient, sustainable, future-proof, community driven business within the ecosystem it serves.

Community Driven Innovators can create impact in corporates or small businesses. For 20 weeks, you will join a league of dedicated Community Driven Innovators from the industry and work on real, community driven innovations for companies and organisations who want to change the world for the better, without losing their business perspective.

This English taught minor is meant for third year bachelor students from all study programmes within HU, part-time and full-time. From Bedrijfskunde to Build Environment, from Communication and Media Design to Health & Social Work and Creative Business students.


To enter this programme, you need to have a propaedeutic diploma and to have finished your second year of studies. Also you need to have attained English language skills at CEFR level B2. If you are unsure about your level, you can do a free written and spoken assessment online, e.g. at or contact the coordinator for a quick oral test.


Capitalism urgently needs to change, is the basic idea behind this minor. The Financial Times, quite a conservative newspaper, called for “a reset of capitalism”: a new model to deliver more profit with purpose. Joe Biden called for “the end of the era of shareholder capitalism”. VPRO Tegenlicht made a mini documentary called Earning Good Money, highlighting a new vanguard of entrepreneurs who do things differently, who are already experimenting with new business models that take stability, responsibility and continuity as a guideline.

There is a reason why this shift is happening now. Due to technological advances and social implications the world is changing rapidly. The corona crisis has painfully exposed companies that in recent years – under pressure from shareholders – have been applying short-term profit maximization, but almost immediately ran into financial problems when Covid-19 emerged worldwide. Some had to apply for state aid, which caused them public outrage. Even Health Care employees, including doctors and nurses on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic, could see a (temporary) pay cut, leading to protest letters to the CEO about these unequal measures where the mid & lower employees suffer, as well as the community that should be served.

Real cases, real clients, real communities. This minor is co-developed by hands on experts working in the field. They make sure you will have the skills, knowledge and experience in ecosystem innovation and community driven models within a (non)profit business environment you would need in the professional practice. This holds a lot of value for future workplaces with an innovation strategy who are looking for concrete solutions and collaborations to maximize impact.

You will learn from a collective of smaller companies that work together in a cooperative sharing funds, labor and other resources (through Cooperative Platforms or Steward Ownership). You will learn from (tech) businesses that operate along the lines of ‘post-growth economics’, as CEO Melanie Riebeck does with Radically Open Security. You will learn from community owned startups like and how applying Exit to Community can save, or build, a company in its early years.

You will also learn from big corporates such as ABN AMRO bank, that is focusing on ecosystem value and API thinking. The Danish beer brand Carlsberg is an example where instead of shareholders, a foundation owns the beer brewer, which invests the profits in making the beer brand more sustainable. Even Rolex, status symbol of the rich because of their designs and the high prices, has no shareholders and returns its dividends through an NGO to various communities for employee training, environmental research, and arts &culture. The foundation annually grants awards to which they link sums of money, for example to Pablo García Borboroglu, founder of the Global Penguin Society. The money received was spent by this biologist to increase the number of penguin nests from 6 to 1.100. The community can, therefore, also go beyond humans and include nature.

This minor combines the latest theories with practice by immediately applying what you have learned. You will be creating your own innovative solution to a real case and build a community around it. You will learn how to build strong ecosystems that are less short-term profit, giving more power to the community: stewardship, cooperatives, cooperative platforms, exit-to-community and decentralized autonomous organisations being the most future proof community driven version of all.

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Learning Objectives

You will be able to bring skills, knowledge and experience in community driven models to the professional practice. Students who successfully complete the minor Community Driven Innovators will be able to:

  • design a business concept that is less short-term profit focused, giving more power to the community;
  • create an innovative solution to a real business case: leverage the ecosystem and community, by creating a value exchange;
  • validate your concept with the involved community/communities;
  • select the most suitable community driven business model for a professional practice case;
  • reflect on the power of internal and external community and how it can successfully drive a business to be future-proof.


1. Get to know your company and ecosystem.
2. Define a community and create a community outline.
3. Make the community co-owner and incentivise members and company/organization to do the right thing.
4. Ideate an innovative, community driven business concept.
5. Interview potential/existing community members (validate) & your personal career aspiration for internship or after graduation.


The assessment of this minor is one big project and consists of three parts: a community outline, a community driven business concept and a community validation. The validation includes your personal career aspiration in the project (as an internship, or when you graduate) or in the community-driven innovation field as a whole.

Special attention will be given to methodical approach, empathy & global sensitivity, creative thinking & concepting, creating shared value. The formal setup of the assignment and rubric and will be supervised by Inge Rozendal (Creative Business), didactic expert and member of assessment committee, and Ernst van den Bosch, assessment expert.


We will work with films, articles and chapters from books. Please find below just a few.

  • Bacon, J. & P.H. Diamandis (2019). People Powered. HarperCollins Leadership.
  • Mazzucato, M. (2021). Mission Economy, a moonshot guide to changing capitalism. Allen Lane.


This course takes place in period A and B; it starts in September.

Additional costs



This minor course is marked by the Green Office as a sustainable minor. This means that by participating in this minor course, you can contribute to one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals from the UN.


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