Startup projects

STARTER@Ukraine (finished)

The project " Transforming Estonian Best Practice of Practical Entrepreneurship Studies to Ukrainian Universities“ aimed to promote entrepreneurial mindset and entrepreneurship skills among Ukrainian students based on the best practices in Estonia.

Together with Ukrainian partners from yep! UT IdeaLab designed business development programme yep!STARTER and implemented it in Kyiv in 2017-2019. It was an educational programme that provides practical skills and know-how for developing business ideas into validated business models and founding a business. The semester-long programme included workshops, mentorship and it begun with an inspirational event and ended with business ideas competition.

The aim: 
  • To promote the entrepreneurial attitude and develop entrepreneurship skills of Ukrainian students, based on the Estonian best practices and UT Idea Lab pre-incubation program STARTER. To share Estonian best practices of teaching methodology and to support Ukrainian (entrepreneurship) education development.
  • Target group: students and educators .
  • Project partner in Ukraine: YEP/NGO “Platform of Innovative Partnership”.
  • Project budget:  105, 589 EUR.

Maret Ahonen, Head of the IdeaLab, at the seminar of innovative teaching methods at the Ministry of Education and Research of Ukraine


  • Business ideas development program Yep!STARTER was implemented in spring and autumn semester 2018. The programme consisted of seminars and workshops, starting with inspirational ideation event and ending with competition / Demo day. Participants gained practical skills and knowledge on how to develop ideas into validated business models. Seminars were managed by Estonian experts, teams had mentors from Estonia and Ukraine.

  • Two seminars for educators on active & creative teaching-learning methods at the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science.

Picture from inspirational ideation event

On 22nd of May 2018 Yep!STARTER business development programme students presented their semester-long work and competed for the opportunity to pitch at sTARTUp Day, a business festival in Tartu. The jury, which included, in addition to Ukrainian representatives, Maret Ahonen, UT IdeaLab Manager, and Sven Parkel, Managing Director of the Tartu Biotechnology Park, chose team GiftHub to be the winner. The winning team wants to simplify the purchase of gifts by using robot (bot) text messaging. Four members of the GiftHub team won a trip to Tartu and will have the opportunity to present their idea on IdeaLab’s pitching stage at sTARTUp Day. 

STARTER@Ukraine participants at sTARTUp Day

The finals of the students’ business ideas development programme Yep!Starter autumn 2018 took place on 17 December in Kyiv. The winner of the main award, tickets and trip to sTARTUp Day was Fonetify, whose browser extension helps to pronounce English text correctly. 

Head of team Fonetify receiving main award

Value & outcomes:

  • Student enterprise program CONTENT & METHOLOGY was shared, implemented and continuously is running in Ukraine.

  • 34 teams from 30 Ukrainian universities graduated Yep!STARTER program. Best teams pitched at the business festival sTARTUp Day in Tartu (Estonia). Total number of participants in the project was above 500 students.

  • Nearly 300 educators from all over Ukraine participated in seminars on active teaching-learning methods.

  • Network and community building in Ukraine (Ukrainian experts and leaders from startup community were involved, cooperation between universities and with the Ministry of Education and Science.

  • Estonian experience about IdeaLab-type activities was shared with Ukrainian universities (big potential and high interest for future cooperation).

  • PIP/YEP network widened, most of the network universities have founded Start-up Clubs that connect entrepreneurial minded people who initiate relevant activities in their university.

Core team:

Maret Ahonen – Expert (Estonia, University of Tartu, IdeaLab Manager);

Piret Arusaar – Project Manager (Estonia, University of Tartu, STARTER program manager in Estonia);

Andriy Zaikin – Chairman, NGO "Platform of Innovative Partnership (Ukraine); 

Valeriia Holierova - Event manager & international partnerships, NGO "Platform of Innovative Partnership (Ukraine);

Maret Ahonen and Piret Arusaar with project partners Andriy Zaikin and Valery Holierova at the Estonian Embassy in Kiev.

The leading partners of the project in Estonia was UT IdeaLab and in Ukraine the Platform for Innovative Partnership (PIP) also known as YEP, which offers practical entrepreneurship education for the students. 

The project was funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs development cooperation and humanitarian aid means.