Startup Lab gives impetus to Ukrainian business education

7 June marked the end of the two-year international cooperation project "Innosme" led by University of Tartu Startup Lab. The project focused on developing cooperation between Ukrainian entrepreneurs and universities by promoting the development and growth of self-confidence of women entrepreneurs.

The partner of the University of Tartu in implementing the “Innosme” project was the Platform of Innovative Partnership, a Ukrainian non-governmental organisation, with which Startup Lab already has a long-term cooperation experience in developing entrepreneurship education.

"New winds are blowing in Ukrainian business education and Startup Lab has a big role in this process," said project manager Piret Arusaar. In the course of "Innosme", the awareness of Ukrainian small entrepreneurs on innovation and product development, as well as practical skills were developed in order to be more competitive in the market. Thematic workshops and seminars were held to share knowledge about innovation systems, the design of new products or services, and the management of the innovation process. The best practices of Estonia and the University of Tartu on new business teaching methods and the structure of subjects were introduced to Ukrainian universities, lecturers and business support organisations.

According to Maret Ahonen, the Startup Lab manager, the introduction of Estonian cooperation experiences of universities and companies gave the Ukrainian partners new ideas for creating and promoting a cooperation network of universities and companies. "The sector-based support network in Ukraine has been built up amazingly fast," Ahonen praised.

There were over 250 participants in the programme, almost half of whom were women. 35 teams completed the programme. According to Piret Arusaar, the great interest and enthusiasm of women is very gratifying. Initially designed as face-to-face, the programme was implemented online, allowing for a wider range of participants and added flexibility.

The Platform of Innovative Partnership, the developer of entrepreneurship education in Ukraine, and the Startup Lab of the University of Tartu have been cooperating for four years. According to Ahonen, the introduction of a new entrepreneurial subject in Ukrainian universities deserves recognition, and the University of Tartu has made a great contribution to this. "However, the new content also needs new teaching competencies and this must be paid attention to in the coming years," Ahonen added.

According to Arusaar, a new joint project is already being prepared. The next step is to promote the quality of entrepreneurship education through teacher training and to improve the innovation capacity of universities, including knowledge of the commercialisation of research-based ideas. Ukrainian universities are very interested in the operating principles of the University of Tartu as an entrepreneurial university. The aim is to apply the concept of an entrepreneurial university more widely in Ukraine in the future.

The project "Promoting innovation in Ukrainian SMEs to strengthen their competitiveness by building efficient networks between universities and SMEs" is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' development and humanitarian aid resources.

Further information: Piret Arusaar, Project Manager, Senior Project Specialist of the Edu ja Tegu Project, School of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu, 516 2945,