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Campus inSaint Petersburg

Team From Estonia Wins Grand Prix at HSE FEST

On June 24-28, HSE University – St Petersburg hosted the International University Startups & Spin-Offs Festival (HSE Fest). Young entrepreneurs from Tallinn University of Technology received the first prize of 10,000 USD for further development of their startup project, Timey. The startup company produces small-scale chemical indicators showing whether food products are stored and transported at the right temperature.

Teams from universities of the USA, Israel, the UK, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Turkey, Estonia and Russia gathered at HSE University – St Petersburg for HSE FEST, where they attended talks and pitched innovative startup company projects. During the first four days of the festival participants learned about marketing, fundraising and PR from leading Russian and foreign experts.

'For us the festival became a new starting point,' says 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.' Fellow ‘Sphere’ team member, Anna Gomarteli, added, 'Now we are developing a new concept for our startup and looking for a new strategy for international promotion. We’ve received important feedback from the experts, and now we understand what direction we should take for further development.'

Anya Berlova of the project, Anya Berlova Designs (Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado, Boulder), also shared her thoughts of the festival. 'The mission of my company is to stand up to bullying around the world and support individuality in children. We have developed a smart device application that will help us achieve this goal. Here I met amazing people, investors, partners and just learned as much as I could about entrepreneurship in Russia, the Russian market, and new ideas and experiences.'

On Friday, June 28, the participants presented their projects at the final pitch session. In 10 minutes, the teams told how they were going to advance and commercialize their products. Startups were evaluated by an expert jury headed by Mikhail Oseevsky, President of Rostelecom company.

The first prize and a grant of $10,000 went to the team from Tallinn University of Technology who pitched their startup project, Timey. The second prize (totaling $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. 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.

'We are going to split the money into two parts,' said Tatiana Zaretskaya, one of the team members. '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.'

Reflecting on the Festival, Liubov Simonova-Emelyanova, director of the technology development office of Rostelecom company, said, 'We should not develop entrepreneurship based only off of already-formed companies. We need a wider look. We pay a lot of attention to student projects, and work with them in different forms. We are mostly interested in the technology solutions developed by Russian students, but are also looking for foreign projects aiming to enter the Russian market. The organization of this international student festival was our first time collaborating with HSE University – St Petersburg in the sphere of developing innovative entrepreneurship. The projects presented during HSE FEST were really interesting. We saw potential in some of them as pilot projects for further development with the support of Rostelecom. We’ll study them in detail.'

'Development of the entrepreneurial university environment, forming the relevant skills and competencies are one of our most important tasks for the future,' said Sergey Kadochnikov, Director of HSE University - St. Petersburg. 'It is also important to provide students with the opportunity to get acquainted with international innovative startups, give them a chance to make new contacts with potential partners from different countries and exchange experience. HSE FEST became the first step of our campus in this direction, and we’re going to develop it further.'