Prof. dr. ir. Smulders, F.E.H.M.

Frido Smulders is Professor of Entrepreneurial Engineering by Design at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering (IDE) and Faculty of Technology Policy and Management (TPM).

At IDE he works in the Design Organization and Strategy department and at TPM he is part of the Delft Center for Entrepreneurship. 

The emphasis of his research and education is on innovative and entrepreneurial behavior in social settings like within society, companies and startups. Today’s challenges require not just individuals to display entrepreneurial behavior, but large groups of multidisciplinary actors to collaborate in an entrepreneurial fashion.  

In his living lab, Entrepreneurship by design, Frido collaborates closely with industry for research as well as for education. Following the lines of Pragmatism he aims to develop practice-relevant-theory. Therefore, the ‘living lab’ serves as empirical base for his research as well as real-life context for his educational activities. Frido is often rewarded as inspirational teacher by his students, a frequent keynote speaker and is also TU Delft Educational Fellow Entrepreneurship. 

Academic Background

Frido holds a PhD in ‘Innovation Sciences’ at Delft University of Technology and BSc & MSc degrees in Aerospace Engineering also from Delft. His career in industry prior to re-joining academia spans from a concept engineer in the Offshore Industry (SBM Offshore) to a materials specialist in Aerospace Industry (Alcoa) and as management consultant in the field of (technological) innovation and creativity. The latter spans the largest part (12y) of his industrial career. 

He collaborates with academics all over the world, most notably with colleagues within the SIG Design Theory like from Mines Paris Tech, Carnegie Mellon, Tel Aviv University, University of Victoria (BC), etc.. Regarding entrepreneurship he collaborates with colleagues from Northeastern University Boston and Babson College, also in Boston.

At IDE he has been MSc-program director of Strategic Product Design, developed and taught multiple courses, developed IDE’s MSc-Honours Program, supervised 130+ MSc graduation projects, a dozen PhD-projects and created a learning line of entrepreneurship education.

His educational focus is on innovating what we educate and in what ways we educate.  As university of technology we raise engineers that will become in the lead of developing new technologies. They have responsibilities that go beyond the safety and societal impact of the technology itself. Also, as co-innovator during the development of the new technology they have their responsibilities. Educating engineers to be capable to take up this responsibility requires them to become knowledgeable and proficient in the social and organizational dimension of innovation processes. These are often referred to the 21st century skills. And more specific, the recent developed Entrepreneurship Competence Framework by EU, EntreComp

Frido’s research focus is to develop a practice relevant theoretical framework representing the field of technological innovation. The envisioned framework covers the human, business and organizational dimensions of innovating. Because there is not just one scientific domain that provides a holistic and integrated perspective that is relevant enough for the innovating practice, Frido scans and invades a large array of sciences to look for relevant theories and notions that help understanding and explaining his empirical observations. Most notable the sciences of engineering, design, entrepreneurship, creativity, management, economics, organization (psychology), (social) psychology, etc.

Since innovation processes happen every day and everywhere, his research needs to be as close to these daily practices as possible. He therefore has a preference for PhD-researchers that investigate their own practice of innovating, hence the living lab!

Grants and funding for Research & Education

Over the years, his research and educational innovation projects have been funded by numerous grants from a large variety of institutions and companies, totaling 4 m€.

Research funding by European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Climate Kic; Unilever; Ulstein Ship Design; Henkel, Germany; Agentschap NL, Ministry Economic Affairs; Click-NL; Dutch Institute for Social Innovation; Design United.

Funding educational innovation: for Sirius, Ministry of Education, Culture & Science; Educational innovation TU Delft; Various smaller education grants EIT Climate Kic; 4TU Center for Engineering Education.

And funding for collaborative education: Industry collaborations with Unilever, Shell, Aegon, LeasePlan, RAI, KLM, Rabobank, Heineken, Liberty Global.  


  • 2006
    PhD in Innovation Sciences, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands.
    Dissertation: Get Synchronized! Bridging the gap between Design and Volume Production
    Focus: Describing the socio-interactive process among innovating actors from different disciplines.
  • 1988
    Master of Science (ir.) Aerospace Engineering, Delft University of Technology.
    Focus: Hybrid Aerospace materials like Glare (now in fuselage of Airbus A380). 


  • 2022-present
    Professor at Delft Center for Entrepreneurship, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management
  • 2020-present 
    Full professor Entrepreneurial Engineering by Design. Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering.
  • 2018-present
    Director Entrepreneurship by Design Lab. Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering.
  • 2017-present
    Educational Fellow Entrepreneurship, TU Delft.
  • 2006-present
    Supervisor Delft University Annotation Entrepreneurship at Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering.
  • 2015-2016
    Visiting professor at Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
  • 2010–2020
    Associate professor Design, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Department Product Innovation Management
  • 2008-2014
    Director of MSc program: Strategic Product Design, Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering
  • 1999-2007
    Deputy head of department Product Innovation Management, Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering
  • 2001-2006
    Assistant professor and PhD researcher, Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Department Product Innovation Management
  • 1993-2001
    Assistant professor Innovation Management, Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Department Product Innovation Management (part time)
  • 1993–2001
    Owner and senior consultant Mosaic Innovation Management Consultancy (part time)
  • 1988–1993
    Management consultant: Innovation Consulting Group & Technology Consulting Group TNO
  • Other activities
    Concept Engineer, SBM Offshore, Monaco. Project leader, Alcoa Tech Center, Pittsburgh (USA). Owner Homework Support company for high school students. Member of Urban & Architectural Planning Authority City of Delft. Free-lance Scientific journalist. 

Specialisation / field of research

Socio-interactive processes related to innovation and entrepreneurship: 

  • Organizational behavior related to discontinuous Innovation
  • Designerly, Innovative and Entrepreneurial Behaviors
  • Trans- and multi-disciplinary collaborative innovation
  • Design, Innovation & Entrepreneurship Theory
  • Educational innovation

Research projects:

Entrepreneurship by Design lab: Practice relevant theory building through Pragmatism: This living-lab is financed by industrial partners and aims to develop cutting edge practical insights for corporate innovation challenges as well as cutting edge theoretical insights for science. Dominant focus is on developing substantive theoretical notions and frameworks on entrepreneurial behavior in corporate, organizational and societal contexts. Generalizations across projects aim to create robust theoretical frameworks on these subjects for education.

Education innovation projects:

Building Special Interest Groups on the topic of educating ‘entrepreneurial engineering’ across all four Technical Universities in The Netherlands (4TU). 
Teach the teachers on the topic of entrepreneurial engineering and coach them in creating small modules on this topic within their existing courses.

Lectures and/or coaches students on:

  • How to build your start up
  • Technology related Entrepreneurial behavior
  • Design, innovation and entrepreneurship theory
  • Corporate Entrepreneurial Behavior & Organizational innovative behavior 

Advanced Design Methods

Cees de Bont, Elke den Ouden, Rick Schifferstein, Frido Smulders, Mascha van der Voort
ISBN: 978 94 6186 213 6

Published in 2013


Frido Smulders, Meike Brehmer, Han van der Meer
ISBN: 978 90 8150 530 7

Published in 2012