sTARTUp projects

InnoSME

The InnoSME project, which is designed to promote innovation in Ukrainian small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) so as to strengthen their competitiveness by building efficient networks between universities and SMEs, was launched on 16 September under the aegis of the University of Tartu’s sTARTUp Lab. The project will focus on boosting skills and awareness in innovation and product development.

In cooperation with Ukrainian partners, sTARTUp Lab is designing and implementing an innovation development programme that broadens students’ and entrepreneurs’ knowledge of innovation and product design, enabling learners to more efficiently manage business processes.

The programme consists of hackathons, themed workshops and seminars, mentor events and competitions. The best entrepreneurs who complete the programme have the opportunity to come to Tartu to take part in and present their innovative solutions at the international business festival sTARTUp Day 2021. The design and implementation of the programme will take into consideration the experience gained during the sTARTUp Lab pre-incubation programme STARTER and the best practice of the School of Economics and Business Administration (SEBA).

According to Piret Arusaar, the senior specialist with SEBA and a sTARTUp Lab project manager, the STARTER programme has proven to be a success and has become an important part of Estonia’s startup network. “We’re really happy to be able to share our experience with other countries,” she said. “We also want to get Ukrainian students involved who’ve graduated from programmes at the University of Tartu and are now successful entrepreneurs or working for startups. Considering our experience in Ukraine to date, we’re convinced there are lots of innovative ideas in the country. Our new programme enables people with an entrepreneurial mind-set to develop their ideas and make a success of them.”

The main project partner in Ukraine is the NGO Platform of Innovative Partnership, which like sTARTUp Lab offers practical entrepreneurship education to students and future entrepreneurs. Under the brand name YEP it brings together more than 20 Ukrainian universities in its network, incl. Kyiv National Economic University, the Taras Schevchenko National University of Kyiv, the National Aviation University and Donetsk National Technical University.

Openness, dynamism, an innovative mind-set and an ability to adapt to increasingly rapid changes on the market are just some of the qualities needed to ensure the sustainable development of small and medium-sized businesses. The project also aims to boost female entrepreneurs’ self-confidence and entrepreneurial knowledge and to promote cooperation between universities and entrepreneurs.

The current InnoSME project started in September 2019 as a follow-up to a practical entrepreneurship development programme run in Ukraine from 2017-May 2019. InnoSME will come to an end in April 2021.

The project is being financed from the Developing Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid Funds of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.