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Nutte van Belzen of CC Diagnostics

The TopDutch economy is built not just on the long-established corporations in the region, but also on the innovative thinking of young start-ups. In order to create solutions to global challenges, we believe it is more and more important to stimulate disruptive young entrepreneurs, who will aid us in this quest. One such entrepreneur is Nutte van Belzen, winner of the jonge ondernemingsprijs (JOP) or Young Entrepreneurs Award in English.

Celebrating talent

The JOP is a yearly award, hosted in partnership with a number of regional governmental groups and members of the business community, which aims to shine a light on young and successful entrepreneurs from the TopDutch region. The idea behind the award is that by celebrating the achievements of these talents, it will inspire all of us in the region, and showcase some of the great work that TopDutch talent do.

And, no doubt, Nutte van Belzen’s story is one sure to inspire. The tale begins at the University of Groningen, where van Belzen was studying medicine. During an extracurricular class in Entrepreneurship, an opportunity the university gives to any of their students – regardless of major – in order to educate in both the academic and applied skills of entrepreneurship, he and two other students were given permission to use an unused patent held at the university.

The students took up this opportunity and ran with it, first joining the VentureLab Weekend, which is an intensive event of workshops aimed at understanding whether a business idea is viable, and then from there earning a place in the VentureLab North program. This program lasted a year, and supported Nutte van Belzen in setting up and expanding his company – CC Diagnostics, based upon the patent allowed to him by the university. This would be a mean feat for anybody, but this TopDutch talent balanced the grueling early days of a start-up with maintaining a career as a practicing physician.

This was one of the points that led to judges at the JOP naming him Young Entrepreneur 2019. As Jelmer Spijksma, chairman of the jury said “The reason we chose Nutte van Belzen as the winner was that, amongst other things, he started his entrepreneurship during his studies. He is both a doctor and an entrepreneur, a special combination”.  

Nutte van Belzen at the JOP ceremony/ Photo: Maaike Andrews

Improving cancer screening

So, what did all this hard work lead to? CC Diagnostics is developing a new cervical cancer test, that would replace the traditional PAP-Smear. Cervical cancer can be relatively easily prevented, with regular and decent screening. However unfortunately all too often the current screenings can miss cases, or show false-positives. The test being developed buy Nutte van Belzen and his team is expected to bring missed cancer cases down from 24% to just 3%, whilst the improved accuracy will provide a saving to the Dutch healthcare system alone of €2.4 million a year.

He is both a doctor and an entrepreneur, a special combination

Jelmer Spijksma, Chairman of Jury JOP

And what next for van Belzen? Well, the prize of the JOP included a masterclass and an advice process from the Flinc, an investment advisory service from the Northern Netherlands Investment and Development Agency (NOM). He has been developing his leadership skills alongside his career, and putting them into practice on medical management placements. No doubt, he’ll be using them soon as a future leader of the TopDutch Life Science and Health industry.  

Are you a young entrepreneur from the TopDutch region? Do you think you have what it takes to become Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2020? You can already apply for the pre-registration on the website of Jonge Ondernemingsprijs.

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