Smart glasses developers from University of Tartu won second place in pitching competition in USA

The University of Tartu team io_developers won the second place and a $2000 prize in the pitching competition of the international business development programme NGAL® (Network Globally, Act Locally).

Io_developers are developing application-controlled optical eyeglasses that enable focus adjustment. The team also won the business idea competition Kaleidoskoop in spring 2019. Team members Elchin Aghazada and Murad Mammadov praise the NGAL programme for the chance to experience the challenges of entrepreneurship and studying abroad, as well as for the international contacts. According to Elchin, the programme contributed to both his professional and personal development. Elchin studies innovation and technology management at the School of Economics and Business Administration and Murad is a student of software engineering at the Institute of Computer Science.

The NGAL programme had eight teams from five universities participating in it. The programme started in Tartu, where the teams attended various workshops, established new contacts, and received guidance and support from mentors of the UT Idea Lab network and NGAL alumni. One of the highlights was the company visit to Nevercode and the founder’s story by Triin Kask. In Tallinn, the participants attended a reception at the US Embassy in Estonia and visited the Mektory Innovation and Business Centre at Tallinn University of Technology.

After a week in Estonia, the participants flew to Charleston, USA, where they prepared for the final competition. They visited the Boeing enterprise and had interesting meetings with the local business community. At the final event of the programme, the teams presented their ideas to an international jury, who awarded prizes to the best ones.

Four teams from two Estonian universities participated in the programme. In addition to io_developers, the University of Tartu was represented by team Timewire, developers of software that helps users track time spent on computer activities. Team leaders Rimante Valancauskaite and Karl Martin Teras are students at the Institute of Computer Science.

Also the US students were pleased to visit Tartu and very happy to see the local startup community and hear experience stories. Listen to their impressions on the YouTube video.

One of jury members and mentor of the NGAL programme Yrjö Ojasaar has been involved in the programme for three years. “NGAL serves as a great launch pad for young entrepreneurs. For example, last year’s winner went on to win the Ajujaht competition. Besides getting relevant practical entrepreneurial skills and advice from experienced startup CEOs, the students get to establish an international network of partners, clients and potential investors,” Ojasaar said.

The NGAL® programme was established in collaboration with five universities and took place for the fifth time. The collaboration partners include the University of Tartu, Tallinn University of Technology and three US universities: College of Charleston, The Citadel – The Military College of South Carolina, and the Nebraska Wesleyan University. At the University of Tartu, the coordinator of the programme is UT Idea Lab.

The project is supported by Harry and Reba Huge Foundation.

Further information: Andres Vaher, UT Idea Lab Marketing and Communications Specialist, +372 5558 7359,