Skip to main content

Twice upon a time in Amsterdam

by Nicole Dyson, Founder & CEO, Future Anything

The last time my feet traversed the bridges over Amsterdam’s canals was fifteen years ago. I’d just made the difficult decision to return home to Australia after a couple of years living and working in the UK and USA. The beautiful Dutch capital was one of the last stops in my ‘final hurrah’ tour of Europe.

I remember the trip being marred by my own uncertainty around the decision to return home. 

My employer at the time had offered to sponsor me to stay in the UK and whilst I adored working with young people in my capacity as a swimming coach, I had no idea whether the gamble to return home to complete a teaching degree would pay off. 

Would I find the same sense of purpose and joy in the classroom as I did in watching the black line?

Last week, I returned to Amsterdam. This time, at the invitation of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) as one of only nine partners from five countries invited to participate in an international research project on global best practices in impact-driven entrepreneurship education for young people. 

Working alongside Fawaka Ondernemersschool (Netherlands), Amsterdam Impact (Netherlands), Junta de Extremadura (Spain), Centro Internacional Santander Emprendimiento (CISE) (Spain), Invento Innovation Lab (Italy), Fondazione E35 (Italy) and the Social Enterprise Academy (UK), I’m honoured that Future Anything (Australia) is the only provider in the southern hemisphere invited to contribute to the three year Impact-Driven Entrepreneurship Education for Children (IDEEC) project.

Our goal?

To form an international research consortium to design and develop a best practice pedagogical framework for entrepreneurship education, a comprehensive toolkit for educators and facilitators, and best practice impact measurement tools for entrepreneurship education.

To say that I am excited to contribute to this important piece of work is an understatement.

This project provides the perfect platform to democratise access to entrepreneurship education globally.

It’s also a wonderful opportunity to learn from and alongside some remarkable organisations leading impactful and purpose-driven work around the world.

Over a year in the making, last week’s visit to Amsterdam was the first time that the partners had met in person.  Together, we’ll spend the next three years challenging and supporting each other around a few critical questions.

  • How can we effectively teach young people about social and sustainable entrepreneurship?


  • How can we support entrepreneurship education providers, teachers and policymakers in doing so?


  • What building blocks can we put in place to improve the design and delivery of social and sustainable entrepreneurship around the globe? 

Of course, educational programs on social and sustainable entrepreneurship for children already exist in each of the participating countries, but this is the start of a new and meaningful international collaboration and structured research program that will have a far-reaching impact beyond the host countries of each of the partners.

We’re only at the very start of this journey, but I’m looking forward to sharing updates and progress from our collaboration with colleagues and friends in the Australian education and innovation communities as the project develops over the next three years.

I’m thrilled that you and your young people will be part of this process alongside us.

Jumping on the plane for the 27 (or so) hour journey back to Australia, I reflected on that awfully overused ‘j’ word.

The ‘journey’.

From swimming coaching to a university degree. From learning about teaching to standing in an actual classroom as a teacher. From leading a classroom to leading a team. From leadership within the system to a start-up outside the system.

The thread that connects one experience to the next is a simple one.

I just love seeing young people do something that they didn’t think they could do.

Suffice to say, on my return to Australia following this visit to Amsterdam, I felt none of the indecision that I did last time I made that trip. 

I believe we’re at the precipice of catalysing the pockets of greatness that exist across the globe into a powerful movement.

A movement that puts young people first.

A movement that believes in the power and potential of young people.

A movement of youth-led ideas bending the future- for the better of us all.

The IDEEC research project is funded by the European Erasmus+ grant program and runs until September 2025. Read more here.

Future Anything offers a portfolio of student workshops, teacher professional development and in-curriculum project-based learning experiences that are building enterprising classrooms in Australia and beyond.

Find out more about our programs here.

Subscribe to Future Anything’s regular e-newsletter to have resources delivered right to your inbox. You can sign up here.

About the author: Nicole Dyson

As a teacher in the USA, UK and Australia as well as a Head of Department and Head of Year at some of Queensland’s top-performing public schools, Nicole has repeatedly led the design and implementation of whole-school changes to support future ready learning; building enterprising classrooms that place young people at the forefront of co-designing contextually relevant learning experiences.

Nicole is an engaging and skilled facilitator, panellist and speaker who is a passionate advocate for equity, the future of education, and empowering young people to bend the future; one youth-led idea at a time.

Connect with Nic on LinkedIn here or Twitter here.

Mailing List

Sign up with the promise we'll send great content and not spam your inbox.