Meeting academic and industry needs with Service Design Thinking

UMIO’s course in Advanced Service Design Thinking is all about making innovation part of your organisations DNA, to truly understand stakeholders and in particular your customers, and be in tune with market dynamics and ahead of the competition. The course covers the use of different tools such as the Customer Journey, Service Blueprint, Prototyping & Validation techniques, and implementation methodologies and has a look at the latest developments in Service Design.

Among the participants in last weeks’ course, there was a delegation from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) headed by Prof. Rebekah Russell-Benett. Her group has found a partner in UMIO’s Service Science Factory for developing competences and incorporating the latest in academic research and methodology into their own practice.

Rebekah: “we use Service Design (SD) and Design Thinking (DT) in research, to teach, and to develop solutions for clients. I really like this multi-faceted uses of the method. As a visual person, I also like the way it brings a structured process to creativity, using mainly visual means. This visualisation is also a big help for clients to understand complex problems.”

Martine Hermans and Ellen Pijpers (Project Leaders at Business Intelligence & Smart Services (BISS) Institute | Brightlands Smart Services Campus) enrolled in this course to immerse themselves in Service Design Thinking’s methodology and background. Ellen: “our role at BISS is to ensure a holistic attitude and stimulate new perspectives, and that is a core quality of Service Design Thinking.”

Martine: “a deeper insight into the methodology will help us to better manage projects and guide processes. The international and multi-disciplinary composition of the group serves as a learning experience in itself.”

A big advantage of the combination of Service Design and Design Thinking is that it can meet both academic and industry needs in parallel, during the same trajectory. The benefits of Service Design Thinking (SDT) go well beyond solving practical problems for clients. Participants incorporate SDT into their way of thinking (DNA). This is a big bonus for the client, compared to the approach of consultants and other commercial partners.

Coffeelovers use a pressure cooker

May 14th UMIO’s Service Science Factory held a one day Hackathon at SBE: a collective event addressing an innovation problem for Maastricht iconic coffee roaster Blanche Dael (140 years young) and it’s spin-off brand “Coffeelovers”.

105 students in 21 teams from MSc Strategic Marketing (course marketing innovation management) tackled the question of how Coffeelovers can foster brand engagement of the young target group in order to elevate ambassadorship. The target given was to realise impact and create ambassadorship for the Coffeelovers brand.

The purpose of a Hackathon is to bring a tightly focused outside-in perspective to the company involved. The objective is constrained within a budget of 5000 Euro to ensure practical and ready-to-implement solutions.

The Hackathon is an example of how SBE not just links students with national companies but also with ‘local heroes’, to strengthen the link with local entrepreneurs and the region.

For students it develops their future strategic insight and serves them with a hands-on experience of Design Thinking: the pressure cooker approach of getting to a validated client centered solution in one day. The required speed of action was not always the easiest part for the students involved.

For Christophe de Warrimont, Head of Sales and Marketing with Maison Blanche Dael & Coffeelovers it was a memorable day: We want to develop a fan base among students in Maastricht for our brands. When they leave Maastricht after a couple of years, they are potential ambassadors in other geographic regions where we plan to expand. The input of 105 academically trained students was a big boost and a unique opportunity for our company.

The Hackathon delivered loads of input, lots of positive ideas with which we can get started right away. The aim was to create maximum impact in a short time with small hands-on ideas. Especially the personalization of the coffee cups is an idea with a lot of potential impact which is relatively easy to implement.

In short: there was a lot of positive energy floating around and that was very exciting to experience.


Edward Huizenga – Passion for Perfection

Recently, Edward Huizenga joined UMIO as Professor Chair of Strategy, Innovation & Change. It’s UMIO’s first Business Practice Chair and puts an emphasis on the human side of business by taking a closer look at strategic transitions, leadership impact, innovation success and behavioural economics.

Edward is at home at the intersection of academia and the corporate world. He describes himself as energetic, eager and competitive. So it comes as no surprise that professionally he is fascinated by iconic organisations that stay ahead in being the recognised leaders in the industry.

In his management books he investigates industry-leading companies to find out what makes a company iconic and an enduring top performer and why. How does a company succeed in pushing the envelope of its success in a consistent way? Significant markers in this respect turned out to be “strategic discipline” and “innovation perfection”.

Edward started his studies in Maastricht in 1988. After some diverse career stints in business and strategy consulting in Europe he became Associate Professor of Marketing Strategy at UvA | Amsterdam Business School. He is a partner with Benthurst & Co, a strategy consulting firm in Amsterdam, Brussels and Zurich.

Edward is happy to be back with Maastricht University (UMIO). He enjoys launching his students on their highest possible learning curve, which is well suited to Maastricht University’s teaching pedagogy: Problem Based Learning (PBL). Impact, relevance and sharing his passion for the research themes are also high on his agenda, which makes UMIO the perfect place to contribute in this respect.

On a personal level, he finds it amusing to be back in the same building where he worked on his PhD thesis and where he kept his Peugeot road-racing bicycle in the basement. Edward took up cycling when he started studying in Maastricht, inspired by the beautiful countryside and challenged by the steep hills in neighbouring Belgium because – surprise, surprise – he is also very competitive in cycling! From his best ascent time on the Mont Ventoux (1 hr 40) to the wattage of Tom Dumoulin… he has the numbers available in a split second.

On the business side of things: in the near future Edward plans to develop and publish cases on exceptional examples of innovation and entrepreneurship that serve as inspiring teaching materials. And last but not least, he’s looking forward to contributing to UMIO’s valorisation agenda by developing additional business from his area of expertise.

Free Teaser Sessions: Join our UMIO Insights Event on July 2

Right before the summer break, we invite you for a refreshing event! Take your pick from three cool and inspiring sessions.


  • Reception: 13.30–13.55
  • Kick-off: 13.55–14.25
  • Breakout Round one (3 sessions): 14.30–15.30
  • Icebreaker: 15.30–15.55
  • Breakout Round two (3 sessions): 16.00-17:00
  • Wrap-up and drinks: 17:00-18:00

Every Breakout Round contains 3 sessions from which you can choose.

Breakout sessions will be provided by Frank Rozemeijer, Thomas Post + Pieter Verhallen and Martin Lammers.

Click here for more info and registration form.

Meet the new – and not so new – faces at UMIO

With UMIO established as the new executive branch of the School of Business and Economics (SBE), there is change as well as continuity. New roles and new faces, while still treasuring the special character for which the MaastrichtMBA is known.

For those familiar with our MaastrichtMBA campus, a new face immediately stands out: Sabine Nievelstein replaces Ron Jacobs as Marketing Manager of the MaastrichtMBA. But don’t worry about Ron, he’s still with us, albeit in another position with UMIO. More about that later.


Ron and Sabine share a similar background as former students at Maastricht University (UM). After securing a Bachelor in Liberal Arts and Sciences and a Master in International Business, Sabine left the UM for a while but returned as a lecturer at the department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management (MSCM). Lately, she also started working as a Marketing Manager for the MaastrichtMBA and Project Leader and Trainer for the Service Science Factory (SSF).

Sabine’s enthusiasm in her new role as Marketing Manager of the MaastrichtMBA is infectious and her goals are clear. “To maintain our profile within the new executive branch, with our proven winning combination of education, research, science and practice.” Thanks to her own experience as a student and as a lecturer at Maastricht University, she is a true ambassador of the university and of lifelong learning. As lifelong learning becomes the expectation for today’s workforce, there will be an abundance of alternative providers. Nevertheless, in my opinion, the question shouldn’t be: Why the MaastrichtMBA? But: Why NOT the MaastrichtMBA?” She explains further: “The MaastrichtMBA stands for close interaction with professors and a small group of students, this is what we call small-scale, interactive, action-oriented and business-encompassing learning. Our policy is to keep small-scale groups, have a personal touch, an eye for social development and an approach aimed at the individual!” Add to that the beautiful location of the MaastrichtMBA and the Triple Crown accreditation – granted to only 1% of all business schools worldwide – it becomes very hard to resist the pull of this MBA.


Ron is heading UMIO’s new marketing and communications team that is tasked with building and positioning the UMIO brand. In this capacity, his connection to the MaastrichtMBA will not be severed. “Far from! We will try and use our past experiences in building the MaastrichtMBA brand to help UMIO make that same move forward, but we’ll also return the favour by bringing back new marketing insights and expertise to the MaastrichtMBA. We are still one team working towards the same goal!”


Ron Jacobs used to hold Sabine’s position at the MaastrichtMBA while simultaneously working to shape the branding of UMIO. He started out as the MaastrichtMBA’s programme manager, later became responsible for leading international projects with partner schools and universities of SBE before he kicked off project work as part of the business school’s strategic renewal trajectory. During that trajectory, the need for a distinct brand gradually became clear as the best way to acknowledge the syntheses which had been achieved in pairing research, education, and professional practice.


At UMIO, the various professional development activities from Maastricht University School of Business and Economics are brought together where they ignite a chain of competence in education and research. “UMIO’s approach is built around four distinctive qualities, which are Navigating Complexity, Futurized Practice, Dynamic Connections and Personal Growth,” Ron explains. “We utilise those qualities and cater to the needs of professionals and organisations through programmes and projects that are rooted in academia and concentrated on business practice.”


Almost everyone would claim that a four-letter word starting with Maastricht University’s initials must by an acronym. “Keep on guessing!”, Ron amusingly comments, “People start thinking inside the box right away. We deliberately want them to expand their perspectives and start thinking outside that box. I suppose that is where UMIO comes in!”

Combining the strengths of SBE for valorisation

Recently the School of Business and Economics (SBE) performed a 2-day training, which explored opportunities to valorise their own research and education capabilities. An excellent opportunity to apply the Design Thinking approach inhouse.

The SBE-teams were a mix of academic and non-academic staff and they were offered the complete toolkit of the Design Thinking approach by UMIO’s Service Science Factory. The training process resulted in the rapid development of several  innovative new services, combining different academic competences.

Besides these specific services, the training fostered the mutual understanding between researchers, educators, and facilitators. Experiencing how combining the different strengths within the university creates value, clearly enhances the common identity and sets up networks for future cooperation.

Read all about the complete 2-day experience.

First Webtalk on Service Design & Innovation

The first WebTalk in a series of five on Service Design & Innovation was broadcast via ‘Facebook Live’ on April 26. In case you missed it, the video is available on UMIO’s Youtube-channel.

You can also download the presentation and factsheet here.

Don’t miss our next webtalks!

Inspirerende start – Aftrap samenwerking UMIO en LWV

Voortdurend innoveren is van belang om aan zet te blijven in deze veranderende wereld. De Limburgse Werkgevers Vereniging (LWV) realiseert zich dat maar al te goed en zet zich in om leden te inspireren meer aan innovatie te doen.

UMIO diende zich daarvoor aan als partner. De UMIO-expertise op het gebied van Service Innovation & Design Thinking sluit immers aan bij de doelstellingen van het Expertisecentrum Kennis en Innovatie van LWV: het delen van kennis en het elkaar inspireren op het gebied van Kennis en Innovatie.

UMIO en LWV vonden elkaar in het thema “Futurize your business”, een programma van 4 dagdelen met als onderdelen: Boost de innovatiecultuur van je organisatie, vitaliteit, digitalisering en samenwerking.

De aftrap voor de samenwerking rond dit thema vond 10 april plaats met een inspiratiesessie van Prof. Mariëlle Heijltjes met als onderwerp: Boost de Innovatiecultuur in jouw bedrijf.


Deze bijeenkomst zorgt voor verbreding van je visie en verruimt je denkbeelden. Met inspiratie voor de toekomst ga ik weer naar buiten.

Maarten Bakx, Sulzer Pumps Wastewater Netherlands.


Prof. Mariëlle Heijltjes – UMIO

The MaastrichtMBA In Maastricht: A Star Amongst Cities…

You know how it is… Perhaps stuck in a rut at work, you feel you can do more but just don’t know how to mine the wealth of potential greatness that you are sure must be inside you somewhere.

You admit it: you could do with a little extra learning. If you are looking for a learning experience that builds on your current level of expertise and really gets your creative juices flowing, then look no further than the MaastrichtMBA. High-quality, international, personal, interactive, varied and complete – this is how participants of the MaastrichtMBA describe their learning journey.

The MaastrichtMBA Programme

To obtain your MBA, you need to pass eight modules in total and you can take two to four years to do so. Staff and students meet four times per year for a whole week per module: not so often that it feels too much like school, and not so long that people get fed up with each other. Instead, everybody is always eagerly looking forward to meeting again for an intensely creative period. Engaging with open-minded people from different industries, nationalities and cultures, each with their own personal histories, makes for a learning environment that allows talents to truly flourish. The student population is unique in many ways. With 79 professionals representing 26 different nationalities and 68 organisations across the globe, you join a network of talented professionals that really is one-of-a-kind. Despite the efforts required, students and staff alike leave after those weeks loaded with energy, ready to take action. Once home, students are expected to devote time to preparing for, and following up on, the courses dealt with during the education week.

Making Things Personal

As a student of the MaastrichtMBA, you will embark on a unique learning journey that will increase and update your knowledge, augment your capabilities and enhance your skill base. You won’t be alone on this path, though: you will always work in close interaction with professors and a small group of fellow students to essentially create your own learning. All of you will use your own personal and work experiences, and apply what you know to the cases at hand. This is what we call small-scale, interactive, action-oriented and business-encompassing learning. At the end of this journey, you will not only be better equipped to tackle any challenge that comes your way, but you will also be able to turn them into opportunities for a better world. In addition, you will have significantly expanded your network of knowledge and peers.

… And of High Quality

The MaastrichtMBA is part of UMIO, the executive branch of the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics: a leading European university for economics and international business. We have been accredited by the three leading international quality assurance bodies: AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA. This socalled Triple Crown accreditation – granted to only 1% of all business schools worldwide – confirms the high quality of research and education, and guarantees a world-wide recognised value of your diploma.

“Engaging with open-minded people from different industries, nationalities and cultures, makes for a learning environment that allows talents to truly flourish”

Maastricht: Meet Europe!

In case you hadn’t caught on yet: Maastricht is unlike any city in the Netherlands. It is quintessentially European, and extremely international. You can hear it, see it, taste it. Known as the birthplace of the Treaty on European Union, Maastricht welcomes people from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds. The city’s old defensive walls and the cobblestone streets are a testament to its ancient culture and history. It attracts countless visitors from all over the world, who come to see the sights, sample the many different cuisines on offer, or do business with its many international corporations and institutions. Add to that the voices of thousands of international students, and it becomes very hard to resist the pull of this amazing place.

Want to Know More?

Simply get in touch for individual advice. You can check the website – – obviously, but you can also request a coffee & cookie meeting with the director of the programme right here in Maastricht, or via Skype if you wish. Just call us via +31 43 388 4939 and mention you heard about us in this magazine. Alternatively, come to Maastricht to meet our current MBA students during the class experience session on 28 May and experience yourself what it really means to belong to the MaastrichtMBA family.

“As a military spouse, flexibility was a priority when looking for an MBA programme. The MaastrichtMBA is ideal, with its modular format – as my husband travels often for long periods of time and I then become a single parent, very far away from family and friends. The modular setup allows me to pick the right timing to enroll in the next course. The MaastrichtMBA also meets my other priority when selecting an MBA programme, as it provides face-to-face opportunities to learn from a diverse group of experienced international professionals.” Robin Richarson, living in the Netherlands, originally from Canada. 

View the full article from The Xpat Journal here.

Maastricht University to launch Executive Master in Cultural Leadership in Partnership with Royal Academy of Arts in London

In March 2018, Maastricht University (UM) launches an Executive Master in Cultural Leadership, in partnership with the Royal Academy of Arts. The first intake of participants in October 2018 coincides with the Royal Academy’s 250th Anniversary year. The programme offers a full range of opportunities in the art world and creative sectors. It is aimed at those who are looking to develop their business and leadership skills, as well as those who want to enrich their understanding of how culture and creativity can inform and rejuvenate their practice.

New generation of leaders

This Executive Master programme is designed to foster a new generation of leaders who want to bring a deep understanding of culture and creativity into their industries and organisations as well as nurture world-class leaders with an ambition to positively shape the arts and cultural sectors applying their knowledge and skills to enable long-term, sustainable, ethical and innovative business practices.

Combination of expertise and scholarship

Combining the professional expertise of a world-class arts organisation and the teaching and scholarship of a leading international university, this master programme will be the first of its kind to offer a fully integrated program across two epicentres of culture and learning. The programme provides a remarkable platform for participants with a passion for the arts and culture to acquire cutting-edge knowledge, timely insight as well as building professional networks.

Interfaculty collaboration

The primary driving force behind this new programme was UMIO – established in October 2017 as part of UM – which designs and provides learning and development trajectories for individual professionals and organisations. UMIO’s roots are in the School of Business and Economics, yet the connection to other faculties and disciplines is central to facing the multidisciplinary challenges in the professional field. This very special initiative with the RA is an excellent example of international partnerships. Interfaculty collaboration between the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and UCM was aided through the establishment of the Maastricht Centre for Arts and Culture, Conservation and Heritage (MACCH), who will contribute teaching to the programme.

Modules in London and Maastricht

Taught across the campus of London and Maastricht with international study trips, this Executive Master offers participants a cross-cultural experience and global perspectives, enabling a deep understanding of cultural value and the significant contribution of arts and creativity to the economy and society. Structured as a modular intensive programme, participants will complete eight taught modules carefully balancing an understanding of the arts and culture alongside their business and management.  Taught modules include Critical perspective in the arts and cultureArt business and cultural managementLaw and artTechnology and innovationCollecting, collections management and logistics, Exhibitions and events, as well as an immersive leadership module which provides personal leadership development tailored to individual ambitions and goals.

Proud of this programme

UM Professor Rachel A. J. Pownall, co-director of the master’s explains “Today’s institutions and corporations require leaders who are able to understand culture and the current challenges facing business and society. Here at Maastricht University, at the heart of Europe, we are delighted to be at the forefront of developments in education by providing innovative problem-based learning and by partnering with a leading international institution in the arts – the Royal Academy of Arts – with whom we can take this one step further to engage with experiential and context-based learning. Expert practitioners at the RA and thought leaders from Maastricht are uniquely placed to provide exciting educational options for professionals to become innovative cultural leaders and leaders who understand culture. Together we can create the leaders of the future.”

About the Royal Academy of Arts

The Royal Academy of Arts was founded by King George III in 1768. It has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to be a clear, strong voice for art and artists.  Its public programme promotes the creation, enjoyment and appreciation of the visual arts and architecture through exhibitions, education and debate. The Royal Academy of Arts is housed in one of the grandest 17th Mansions in central London which spans Piccadilly to Bond Street in Mayfair. For its 250th Anniversary year in 2018, the RA opens an extended campus with state of the art teaching facilities and dedicated educational spaces including a 250-seat lecture theatre, the Clore Learning Studios and the Wolfson British Academy Room which is specially designed for executive education. The RA is at the heart of a vibrant cultural quarter, rich with world-class commercial galleries and private dealerships, as well as leading luxury brands and international craft-based goods and within a short walk of many of London’s top landmarks and public museums.

Also visit the RA website for a detailed description.
Click here for their 2018 Anniversary and developments.