Our History

The Journey

At first sight Leuven Value Network may sound quite abstract, although the name reveals a bit of its meaning. In order to give a clear image of the organisation, we will take you back in time to the very beginning. Therefore, ᒪ ᐯ ᑎ’s evolution is introduced through the eyes of our four core members: Jente (Founder and Team Leader), Tim (Head of Marketing), Dieter (Head of Human Resources) and Sid (Head of Community).

The Beginning

Back in 2018, Jente spent a lot of his personal time in organising outgoing activities which took place in some of Leuven’s most iconic venues like the Social Club, Albatros and Lido. Besides, he gained significant ‘hands-on’ experience in the setting up of networking events through his work at the European Institute of Innovation & Technology for Food. However, after a while he noticed that the ideal combination between those two was actually missing. As a result, he founded Leuven Value Network: a community which sets up hybrid networking events that form a perfect mix between work and play with music being “the sauce” (Jente). It was also remarkable that from the very beginning “young minds were the main building blocks of ᒪᐯᑎ’s DNA” (Tim). Eventually, the hard work of the young and ambitious team resulted in the organisation’s first-ever event, namely AfterNetwork. From then on, Leuven Value Network would become an inevitable actor in the creation of innovative value for the city of Leuven.

The Journey Continues

Nowadays, the community consists roughly out of 80% young innovators which mostly entails senior students and young professionals between 20 and 32. The other 20% concerns senior innovators who also have a significant part in the organisation’s activities. As mentioned before, not only the target audience is relatively young, also the ᒪᐯᑎ team thrives on the efforts of students and junior professionals. By constantly recruiting qualitative additions to the team “we ensure to be ever dynamic, innovative and open-minded” (Sid). The healthy mix between fresh faces and core members guarantees a non-stop exchange of divergent expertises. As a result, team members have unlimited opportunities to develop their own skillset and eventually transfer it to the whole community of Leuven. In this way, ᒪᐯᑎ functions as an accelerator for young innovators who might have great ideas, but lack the necessary know-how and environment to put an idea into practice. Through the events of the organisation, people come together and are able to brainstorm with like-minded individuals and pitch their ideas to a wider network. The underlying logic essentially means that  “together, we can achieve more” (Tim). It is clear that ᒪᐯᑎ can be considered as an ever evolving ecosystem, which also shows in its activities. Whereas the focus initially laid on mostly organising events, it has grown towards a full-scale community including close partnerships with big players like Leuven MindGate, KU Leuven, UCLL, Cronos, City of Leuven and many more (check our website for all the partners).

A Digital Journey Unveils

Even though ᒪᐯᑎ came a long way already, it still maintains high ambitions to keep developing. The energy and enthusiasm of the team to keep on building has no limits. The outbreak of Covid-19 in March 2020, was an unforeseen challenge every organisation or business eventually has to face in its lifespan. “In the end it’s not the virus which defines us, but the team who redefines the organisation based on the circumstances, just like in any other ever changing business environment. The fact that we couldn’t organise physical events anymore was not regarded as a limitation. We took the time to review our activities and worked on the internal communication” (Jente). As a result, ᒪᐯᑎ started to set up new, online events like the completely sold out first edition of Startup Stories “where young entrepreneurs could share their experiences” (Dieter). Through its digital endeavours, the network kept on growing and proved once more the agility of the organisation’s team. “More concrete, we grew in terms of flexibility, efficiency and creativity” (Sid).

Back To The Future

Jente, Tim, Sid and Dieter all agree that Leuven’s inhabitants have only seen the tip of the iceberg of what ᒪᐯᑎ compromises. For 2021, the team has worked out several structural changes which will augment the value that the organisation can produce. Firstly, a paid community platform is about to unfold in order to give a more consistent and productive service to ᒪᐯᑎ’s members. Therefore, new potential partners are invited to link up with the team to establish a fruitful collaboration. Secondly, the monthly Value Networks received a slight make-over with the goal to improve the self-development of attendees even more. Lastly, the new year also entails four new flagship events (every quarter) where mind-blowing panel discussions, including speakers like Mohammed Ridouani, will inspire the audience to create value for the Leuven ecosystem themselves. The team leaders all emphasize that the process of developing is eventually more meaningful than the goal itself. Therefore, ᒪᐯᑎ is always eager to connect with new actors (individuals or organisations) which can contribute to its endeavours and make the road to city innovation even more exciting.