Blue Ocean Academy

Blue Ocean Academy

Radical change for corporates

Blue Ocean Academy is an acceleration program for the development of radically innovative business opportunities, enabling corporates to reposition themselves in a changing society with a new economy.

New propositions, new markets, new talent

The institute’s objective is to develop new ideas with representatives of the next generation and, in doing so, tap into new markets. It offers literal and figurative space for regeneration, outside of existing organisations, business processes and revenue models, and helps them to increase their value in the race for talent.

A radical change & talent program for corporates powered by BLOC and BK360º

The Blue Ocean Strategy

The Blue Ocean Strategy [1] is about creating new markets. Many businesses compete with each other in the red ocean (the existing market), where space is limited and competition to capture more of the market is cut-throat. The blue ocean is the yet-to-be-discovered market, where as yet there is no competition and the rules are still to be formulated. In the blue ocean, new products can be developed, new partnerships discovered and roles and values innovated.

[1] The Blue Ocean is a business strategy, introduced in 2005 by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne in the book of the same name.

Value innovation in the new economy

We are in the middle of a transition to the new economy. Where information technology takes the lead, the dividing line between man and machine is blurred even further and society consists primarily of services. Existing businesses are in search of new roles in a changing society. Particularly for larger organizations, it can be difficult to change course. However much they want to, their existing business processes and revenue models stand in the way of innovation.

A second playing field

In order to really innovate, large businesses must move outside of themselves and create a second playing field where they can rediscover themselves. The Blue Ocean Academy offers this: a space where they can start new projects, develop new products and services, find new partners, explore new organisational models and roles, and tap into new markets. The playing field is situated in the lively Westelijk Handelsterrein in Rotterdam, a place for business leaders to break loose for a few months and sink their teeth into new ideas, challenges, and solutions.

This is the place where business leaders can break loose and go wild for a few months.

Space for innovation, literally and figuratively

The Blue Ocean Institute is located in the lively Westelijk Handelsterrein, in the heart of Rotterdam. This is where Herman den Blijker began his career and the concepts for the Dutch Mountains and the Dutch Windwheel came to life. This complex of listed historic warehouses is a breeding ground for innovation that will later grow to adulthood within the businesses where it originated.

New ideas

The Blue Ocean Institute offers a practice-focused program based on the development and market placement of new concepts, products and services. In this experimental environment, good ideas really get a chance and can be strengthened, developed and validated. Participants work on concrete propositions that reposition their businesses in the market, and understand what is needed to help them through the process of transition.

Next-generation leadership

Innovation comes from the next generation. The Blue Ocean Institute focuses on representatives of that generation: young, ambitious professionals capable of shaping cultural change. We enable them to take their companies by the hand and transform them into market leaders in the new economy. Its compelling and exciting program helps them to stand out from the crowd in the race for talent.

The Westelijk Handelsterrein is a breeding ground for innovation

The Westelijk Handelsterrein is a breeding ground for innovation


The Blue Ocean Institute program lasts 100 days and consists of education, instruction and, above all, seduction. Its objective is to identify at least three ideas, translate them into a proposition, and accelerate towards implementation. Participants work in the Westelijk Handelsterrein, taking part in work sessions and inspiration trips, meeting new partners and, both in groups and individually, are supported in translating the experiences to their own organisations. The program is tailored to participants’ needs.


Blue Ocean Institute’s objective is to help companies innovate by themselves. Anchoring the experiences in the organisation is therefore crucial. This begins by identifying and getting started with ideas that are already within the organisation and need to be developed. Participants are chosen jointly by the organisations and the institute, and must have the potential to inspire and take the organisation by the hand.

The management of participating organisations plays an active role; it starts by defining at least one of the new ideas to be implemented, and assesses the pitches and propositions during the process, with one pitch being made every 33 days. The mentors follow and advise where needed during the marketing of the new ideas and the organisational transition after the program.

The BLOC café

The BLOC café


The Blue Ocean Institute is an initiative by BLOC and BK360° in collaboration with Gregor Noltes.

BLOC is a creative development agency from and for the new generation, developing prestigious concepts and projects and bringing them to implementation with its partners, from the world’s first CO2 smart grid to ultra-innovative buildings such as the Dutch Windwheel and the Dutch Mountains.

BK360° is a company where initiative and realisation come together. It helps a broad range of projects within government, start-ups and corporates to get off the ground, from the format for an integral youth policy to SAP implementation and the creation of Venture Cafe Rotterdam, and from the United States to the Netherlands.

Gregor Noltes creates ‘serious playgrounds’ in which entrepreneurship flourishes. He builds the playgrounds, but the players build the sandcastles, and he regularly throws in new toys to challenge them further. The first one he built was Rockstart. Gregor’s objective is to allow employees and businesses to excel, and he provides advice, amongst others, to KPMG and AVROTROS.

BLOC, BK360° and Gregor Noltes have an extensive network of businesses, knowledge institutions and governments, and work with partners from different sectors, such as education, marketing, design, communication and prototyping.

Personal support

Personal support


Besides the program, BLOC and BK360º offer tailored support. After participants are chosen, the broad objectives and program are identified. Participants attend at least twenty workshops and training or inspiration sessions, in a group setting, provided partly by BLOC and BK360° and partly by external parties. During the process the participants will be supported daily in the Westelijk Handelsterrein by a team of advisors.

Lennart Graaff (BLOC), Brend Kouwenhoven (BK360º) and Gregor Noltes are the personal mentors. They hold a minimum of twenty coordination meetings with participants, focused on reaching new market propositions, and five with the organisation: one beforehand, one at the conclusion, and three interim sessions.

Participants attend at least twenty workshops and training and inspiration sessions

Participants attend at least twenty workshops and training and inspiration sessions

Ten reasons to participate

(1) In the Blue Ocean Institute, corporates are briefly allowed to behave like startups again.

(2) The practice-focused program delivers new concepts, products and services that are strengthened, developed and validated in an experimental environment.

(3) Young, ambitious professionals help their companies to find new markets in the new economy.

(4) In the Westelijk Handelsterrein, participants can break free from their organisations and go wild on new challenges, solutions and propositions.

(5) In this experimental environment, there is space to discover new ways of dealing with risks, uncertainties, and failure.

(6) During projects, work sessions and inspiration trips, the participants meet new partners, learn about new methods, and are helped in groups and individually to translate the lessons they have learned into their own organisations.

(7) This translation is reinforced by meticulous selection of ideas and participants, with management taking an active role.

(8) Organisations and projects get a unique opportunity to be connected to the strong innovative position of earlier BLOC initiatives.

(9) The program offers a unique chance to make organisations attractive to new talent that can shape the future.

(10) The participants are supported intensively by the proven innovators of BLOC and BK360°.

Participation requirements

  • Corporates only
  • Management commitment is a must
  • Must be potential level-C managers

Blue Ocean Institute HQ

Blue Ocean Institute HQ