IdeaLab brings best Ukrainian student teams to Startup Day

The finals of the students’ business ideas development programme Yep!Starter 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.

The author of winning idea Serh Kruchok said that the Yep!Starter programme helped them to develop the idea. “Learning wasn’t always easy, but we got the necessary knowledge and contacts to launch our idea. We are very happy about the win and the opportunity to present our idea at Startup Day in Estonia.”

Yep!Starter is a hands-on training programme aiming to provide practical skills for developing ideas into business models.

The programme in Kyiv is built on the best practice of the UT IdeaLab and it is implemented in the framework of the practical entrepreneurship education project targeted at Ukrainian universities.

UT IdeaLab collaborates with “Platform for Innovative Partnership”, a local NGO that is developing an inter-university entrepreneurial ecosystem.

In Autumn nearly 200 students applied for the Yep!Starter programme and half of them were accepted. In October, 15 ambitious teams were formed of whom nine made it to the finals.

Maret Ahonen, IdeaLab Manager and member of the jury, said that the teams had made great progress in developing their ideas and performed professionally when answering questions and explaining their future plans to the judges. “The atmosphere was festive and you could feel excitement and tension at the same time, because all the teams wanted to do their best and win the main prize – the trip to Tartu to the Startup Day pitching stage.”

During the spring semester, 18 teams participated in the programme and the winner was team GiftHub, whose four members also won tickets to the Startup Day.

In total, students from ten universities participated in the programme, including Kyiv National Economic University, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and the National Aviation University.

According to Andriy Zaikin, CEO of the UT IdeaLab’s partner organisation, the cooperation with UT IdeaLab has made it possible to improve the methodology of the pre-incubation programme. “Together with colleagues from Estonia we have inspired a huge number of Ukrainian students,” said Zaikin. They received more than 500 applications and 33 startup teams completed the programme. “It was a great experience for us and for the students who participated in the programme. I believe we will continue cooperation with the University of Tartu next year.”

The project "Transforming Estonian Best Practice of Practical Entrepreneurship Studies to Ukrainian Universities" is funded from the development and humanitarian aid instruments of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Additional information: Piret Arusaar, Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Starter Program Manager, 516 2945,