July 12, 2021

Universities create startup environments to train tech leaders / Rossiiskaya Gazeta

The number of entrepreneurs is decreasing every year hindering business development. Before, this did not seem to be a big issue but in the realities of the digital economy, this became significant. “So, Russia ranks 45+ on the Global Innovation Rating,” says the first vice-rector of UrFU Sergei Kortov. At the concluding session of Innoprom-2021 the experts discussed what is required to train tech leaders.

“There still is no systemic training for entrepreneurs and no experts capable of teaching this. Of course, not everyone has to go into entrepreneurship but young people like that need to be noticed as early as during school careers sessions and freshman years at universities. We need to create an environment for that where they can reveal their talents — an ecosystem of entrepreneurship,” says vice-president of Opora Rossii Eduard Omarov.

Last year around 215,000 business entities were set up, 10,000 out of that could be considered technology startups. “For comparison, in China there are a hundred times more of those,” claims founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Technospark Denis Kovalevich. A couple of years ago he suggested they get students to participate in setting up startups within his company. The internship programme began in September 2019.


“We are also launching pilot startup studios at universities where students interested in business development will generate ideas and put teams together. It is important as well, to involve professional investors who can offer not just their money but knowledge too, at the early stages of a startup. Today, at our universities 3 percent of startups are being set up, at universities of the world – it’s 25 percent,”

founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Technospark, Denis Kovalevich

The project assumes that the universities will be initiators of such environments and will assist using their resources and the studios will exist independently. Ministry of Education and Science supports this idea. Alexander Vedehin, deputy director of the Department of State Youth Policy and Educational Activities of the Ministry of Education, noted that students need to be provided with business skills in addition to traditional education.

However, since last year many Russian universities have been offering a Startup as Diploma project, where instead of a long research paper the finalists present a specific business model. It currently operates in 48 universities. By the way, in 2020 one of the UrFU students who presented his thesis as a startup became the winner of the Russian competition for young entrepreneurs.

“We do not abandon startuppers, we help them get grants, get internships. Including work with Technospark team to test students’ skills. However, we do not aim to churn out startups, the economy is not ready for this anyway. The goal of the university is to create a path for personal development, cultural code,” claims Nadezhda Terliga, deputy of the first vice-rector and head of marketing innovation of UrFU.

Universities select talented young people from the school bench when they give lectures to years 7 and 8 about what tech business is. For instance, 2 years ago at Tomsk State University startup schools were set up – analogous to today´s hackathons where school kids team up with students and entrepreneurs and create a tech project in a limited amount of time. This year, the programme involved 500 school students, including participants from CIS.

“In order to bring up a tech leader, 4 conditions are needed: science-based school, technical product requirements, acceptable salary for the duration of the project and material-technical base, where one can make an operating prototype. For a startup to be in demand, first and foremost an industrial customer is needed,” insists general director of Avtomatika, Andrei Misura.

His company is also looking for prospective employees in schools: young researchers learn engineering in a lab, take part in an annual Semihatovskie Chteniya youth space forum.

In particular, state corporations invite students and teachers from universities to gain an understanding of new technology.

“Our corporation is working on leading innovation development. One of the 40 unique technological competencies revealed is being implemented at a Ural company that manufactures optical systems. We are ready to teach it to students and teachers of UrFU, ” invites deputy chair of the science-tech board of state company Rostech Alexander Kashirin.


The source: Rossiyskaya Gazeta

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