• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

First University Startup Fest Held at HSE St. Petersburg

On June 24 – 28, HSE University – St. Petersburg hosted the International University Startups & Spin-Offs Festival (HSE Fest), which brings together students from across the world to pitch their startups for a one-time chance to win grants that will help them take their projects to the next level.

Festival participants networked and presented their startups to an international audience of representatives from both local, transnational Russian corporations that can help them enter the big Russian market, as well as successful entrepreneurs from the UK, Europe, and North America. This interaction provided students the opportunity to get both exposure and potential funding for their projects.

The five-day event consisted of six tracks that examined startup strategies and technological innovations from many standpoints: Digital Health; EdTech (educational technology); Neurotechnology; Startup Management; Growth Hacking and Marketing; and Fundraising and Financing Strategies.

A Week of Expert Insight

The festival kicked off with an opening ceremony in which Philip Kazin, Deputy Director of HSE University – Saint-Petersburg, delivered welcoming remarks. The days that followed featured talks by a wide range of invited experts, and, at the end of each day, participants got to go on a different cultural excursion, such a boat tour or a trip to the Hermitage.

The first guest lecturer of the Festival, Raman Kumar, CEO of Marketing Agency and Co-Founder of Qlean (Moscow), spoke about marketing tactics such as engaging Facebook micro-influencers to offering discounts to crucial players who offer assistance. Another invited expert, Robert Neivert, Venture Partner of 500 Startups (San Francisco, USA), talked about how to break into foreign markets and how it is important test your product locally.

Day 2 of the Festival focused on the ins and outs of interacting with customers and building a client base. Topics included how to attract potential customers via Facebook, how to build and use a pipeline (i.e., a visual representation of where potential customers are in the sales process), and the importance of simplifying your strategy. Day 3 featured talks about investment: participants learned how to raise capital for their startups, perfect the art of crowdfunding, and engage in dialogue with investors.

Day 4 focused on innovations in several of the fields in which students were launching startups—education, medicine and neurotechnology. A talk by Liubov Simonova-Emelyanova, a representative of Rostelcom, concluded the lecture series. Ms. Simonova- Emelyanova discussed the importance of having not merely an idea but an actual business plan, which includes identifying a problem and a solution, evaluating your market, and sizing up your competitors.

From Bullying to Artificial Intelligence: Teams Make Their Pitches

On Friday, June 28, the fifth and final day of the Fest, it was time for the student teams to pitch their startups. Participating teams hailed from the USA, Israel, the UK, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Turkey, Estonia and Russia—and their startups were just as wide-ranging as their places of origin.

Some projects aimed to combat social ills. Polaris Tools (San Francisco, USA), for example, uses technology to prevent abuse, exploitation, and trafficking of migrant workers in Asia and the Middle East. Another startup, Anya Berlova Designs (Denver, USA), Anya Berlova Designs uses technology to fight bullying by teaching children to stand up to it from an early age, and developing their values of self-confidence and individuality.

Other projects were more scientific. BeStraight (Novosibirsk, Russia) uses a virtual reality game to facilitate gymnastic therapy for people who suffer from osteochondrosis. Gridd.ai (Kristiansand, Norway) seeks to build a virtual AI-robot that will be revolutionize enterprise streamlining and digital transformation.

Each team had a time allotment of 10 minutes to tell how they were going to advance and commercialize their products. The startup projects were evaluated by an expert jury headed by Mikhail Oseevsky, President of Rostelecom company.

And the Winner Is…

The first prize and a grant of $10,000 went to the team from Tallinn University of Technology for their startup, Timey. The second prize (totalling $7,000) went to the team behind the uFraction8 project from Scotland, and the third prize ($5,000) was awarded to the team from Italy for their project, Artiness. In addition, two projects also received People´s Choice Awards: Timey and Annoto, a project from Israel.

The winning startup – Timey – produces chemical indicators aimed at ensuring that cooled food products are stored and transported at the right temperature. Their technology not only improves product quality maintenance; in case of any malfunction, it helps identify the stage at which it occurred in the supply chain. Thus, Timey technology helps to avoid disputes between the manufacturer and the vendor regarding the responsibility for product damages.

The second prize winner, uFraction8, helps bio-manufacturers who use biological cells in their production to dewater and concentrate biomass with a sustainable and scalable system that is more efficient than conventional filters and centrifuges. The third prize winner, Artiness, exploits augmented reality with 4D holograms in order to move beyond the limits of current clinical methodologies.

Upon being awarded the first prize, Tatiana Zaretskaya, one of the team members for Timey, talked with HSE News Service about what her team is going to do next. 'We are going to split the money into two parts,' she said. 'We’ll spend the first part on producing the stock of indicators, so that we can satisfy the needs of companies as quickly as possible. The second part will be spent on patenting. The Estonian market is not so large, so we want to enter the international market.'

While only three teams walked away with sizeable grants, all teams came away from the event with valuable knowledge that will help them take their startups further. 'For us the festival became a new starting point,' said Anastasia Telichko, a student of HSE University – St Petersburg and a member of the team 'Sphere'. 'Over the course of this week we deepened our understanding of how startups function at the very first stages, how to enter the business sphere, how to interact with clients and partners, and how to structure your project and present it in the best possible way.'

‘We’ve received important feedback from the experts,’ added fellow ‘Sphere’ team member, Anna Gomarteli, ‘Now, we understand what direction we should take for further development.'


See also:

Applications Now Open for Winter HSE Startup Cup 2022

The HSE University Business Incubator has started accepting applications for the HSE Startup Cup. The competition, which is being held for the fourth time, has become a large-scale event for the best student startups from all of the university’s campuses. Participants of the competition have the opportunity to launch a startup and receive financing for their projects.

Pivot to the East: A Comprehensive Study of the Cultural and Civilisational Centres of the Non-Western World is the Top Priority

China and the Chinese world, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Arab countries, Iran, Turkey, Central Asia and Africa are gaining new significance in Russia’s foreign policy. However, we do not know enough about the Eastern countries. It is necessary to change the priorities in education, starting from grammar school. Prospects for the development of domestic Oriental studies in the context of the new stage in the development of the system of international relations were discussed at a round table at HSE University.

‘I Admire HSE Students’ Eagerness to Learn, to Discuss, to Broaden Their Perspectives’

Robert Romanowski was a ‘Digital Professor’ at HSE University in November 2021. In his interview for the HSE News Service, he talked about the specifics of online teaching, his course on Strategic Branding, and the skills that are essential for marketing professionals today.

Russia and Africa: Time to Expand Cooperation

There is major potential for economic and humanitarian cooperation between Russia and African countries. Particularly, Russian organisations and universities can help transfer competencies and knowledge in the fields of agriculture, energy, industrial production, environmental management, climate change, and public administration. Experts and representatives of African embassies in Russia discussed these issues at the round table ‘Russia-Africa Sharing Knowledge’ hosted by HSE University.

The Brain in Space: Investigating the Effects of Long Spaceflights on Space Travellers

As part of an international project conducted with the participation of Roscosmos and the European Space Agency, a team of researchers used differential tractography to analyse dMRI scans ofcosmonauts’ brains and found significant changes in brain connectivity, with some of the changes persisting after seven months back on Earth. The paper is published in Frontiers in Neural Circuits.

HSE University-Perm and the Training Centre of the Uzbek Ministry of Finance Sign Cooperation Agreement

HSE University in Perm has become the first academic partner of the Training Centre under the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The parties have signed a cooperation agreement in education and research. 

HSE University Strengthens Ties with Netherlands in Agricultural Research and Education

On November 9, 2021, HSE University signed a memorandum of understanding with Wageningen University & Research, a major university in the Netherlands and one of the leading agricultural research institutes in the world. Participants of the signing ceremony included HSE University Rector Nikita Anisimov, President of the Wageningen University & Research Executive Board Professor Louise Fresco, and Dutch Ambassador to Russia Gilles Beschoor Plug.

The Majority of Russians Do Not Support Microchip Implants

The majority of Russians would not agree to being fitted with microchip implants for any purposes—medical or otherwise. A joint study conducted by HSE University’s International Laboratory for Applied Network Research and Aventica found that respondents believe the risks of personal data leaks and misuse to be too high.

‘We Can Now Say That the Finance Conference Is Global’

The 10th International Moscow Finance Conference, organized by HSE ICEF, took place on October 29–30 online. Vladimir Sokolov, Head of the International Laboratory of Financial Economics, which hosted the conference, talks about the participants, the key presentation topics and how they will impact the global economy.

HSE University Scholars Study Green Transition Risks and Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulation

The UN Climate Change Conference is taking place from October 31 to November 12 in Glasgow. The conference focuses on preventive measures against the catastrophic and irreversible consequences of rising average global air temperatures. Igor Makarov, Head of the HSE Laboratory for Economics of Climate Change, will be taking part in the Glasgow conference. In the following interview, he speaks about the pressing problems Russia and the world are facing, and the research HSE scholars are doing on climate change.