HSE Students and Staff Can Accelerate Their Start-Ups for Free at the HSE Business Incubator
On June 23, the HSE Business Incubator will launch a new acceleration programme for business projects at the pre-seed stage (taking them from the prototype to their first sales). Start-ups developed by HSE University students and staff can participate in the programme for free.
The acceleration programme is the HSE Business Incubator’s most exciting opportunity for emerging entrepreneurs. It helps them develop their products and learn the ropes of entrepreneurship from the best experts. The programme was launched in 2015 and has promoted several thousand start-ups across the country, attracting 1.5 billion roubles of investment in its graduates’ businesses.
HSE Inc Business Incubator is an HSE University department, which was founded in 2006. It aims to promote entrepreneurship among university students. In addition to the acceleration programme, HSE Inc offers a Start-Up School, master classes, meetings with experts, lectures, and pitches with investors. Last year, the HSE Business Incubator took first place as the ‘Best University Accelerator’ in UBI Global 2019, an international ranking of business incubators.
The programme welcomes start-ups with a ready product prototype, an MVP (minimum viable product), as well as those who are ready to create it within a month. Teams must consist of at least two members. They should be able to work on the project for at least 15 hours a week.
‘Our acceleration programme consists of three elements: advising, education, and, most importantly, networking,’ says Anastasia Kulemina, head of marketing at HSE Business Incubator.
According to Anastasia, the advising component entails 70 hours of consultations with internal experts and EIR, weekly internal pitches, internal demos, and, of course, communication with external experts and mentors. The educational part includes participation in various events (from marketing to personal performance) and office hours (p2p consultations with invited experts in specific topics).
Anastasia Kulemina, Head of Marketing, HSE Business Incubator
We offer our participants an opportunity to meet with big corporations, which may become the start-up’s customers (HSE University, MTS, Sberbank, and others), private investors, investment funds, professionals in different fields (who may become part of the project team, help implement ideas, or provide useful feedback), as well as other residents and graduates of the programme, who can offer helpful advice and share their insights. This is how networking works.
HSE Incubator Success Stories
Aripix Robotics, a start-up specializing in developing, manufacturing and installing industrial manipulator robots, raised $500,000 as a result of the acceleration programme.
Fermata, an agtech start-up that serves as an AI-based platform that monitors the state of plants live, raised $4.8 million.
Rebotica, an extensive career-guidance course, which offers different courses for kids in robotics, game programming, design, website development, and more, raised $50,000 of investment from a business angel and received a 200,000 rouble grant from HSE University. The start-up is self-reliant: it has paying customers, and the earned money is reinvested in the project. Upon completing the Rebotica course, kids present their projects to their parents.
Anastasia also noted that the HSE Incubator’s transition to online has not hampered the operations of business projects. ‘The current situation has become a great opportunity to explore new formats. We used to have weekly staff meetings where we discussed the plans for the week and summarized the previous one. Now we meet daily, we track our progress, and synchronize the work of our team. We also meet informally. For example, have lunches together in Zoom. Overall, our team has become even closer-knit and effective.’ Most of the Business Accelerator residents have also continued their work and found a way to become more efficient. ‘Some of the projects (more offline-focused) have taken a break for the period of self-isolation. Incidentally, the online transition was the most discussed topic during residents’ consultations with experts in April.’
Areas in which acceleration programme experts work include: Adtech, AI, ML, AR, VR, BI & Analytics, BigData, Cybersecurity, DeepTech, E-commerce, Edutainment, Edutech, Fintech, Foodtech /Agtech, Hardware, Health & Welness, HRtech, Industry 4.0., Insuretech, Regtech, IoT, IT, Lawtech, Logistic, Low-Code, No-code development, New Media, Retailtech, Robotics, SafeTech, Socialtech, Sporttech, Telecom, Traveltech, IT and hardware solutions at the intersection of different fields, as well as projects in the real sector of the economy.
The application deadline for the new programme is June 14. Among those who have already applied, there are projects by teams made up solely of HSE University students, as well as start-up projects developed by HSE alumni. More detailed information about the acceleration programme is available on the HSE Business Incubator website.