Kiur Kaasik

University of Tartu to introduce the opportunities and success stories of research-intensive business on Startup Day

24–26 January sees the 8th Startup Day business festival. The University of Tartu will showcase its research-intensive spin-offs, discuss the role of universities in fostering entrepreneurship and innovation on the main stage, lead seminars, and conduct fascinating interviews in the demo area.

Main programme 

On 25 January at 11:00–11:25 on the Starlight Stage, Tõnu Esko, Vice Rector for Development of the University of Tartu, will speak on the role of universities in promoting innovation and sustainable development.

On the same stage at 11:25–12:05a discussion will be held by speakers from the Nordic countries on “Northern Lights of Innovation: Building Tech Startups in the Nordics” with Donnie SC Lygonis, Ghita Wallin, Pontus Stråhlman and Vaido Mihkheim.

On the same day at 13:15–13:40, Marlon Dumas, Professor of Information Systems at the University of Tartu, will speak on the Insight Stage about the impact of artificial intelligence on business development.

Tuul Sepp, Professor of Animal Ecology, will give a talk on the Starlight stage at 14:15. She will explore the business potential of urban habitat restoration.

Paneelvestlus Startup Dayl
Panel discussion on Startup Day (author: Mirjam Savioja)


On Startup Day, the University of Tartu will host both a workshop and a seminar.

In the seminar “From Lab to Launch: Mastering University Spin-off”, three successful university startups – Esadres, Gearbox Biosciences and Vectiopep – will share their experience of building a successful business based on research. The discussion will be led by Mart Maasik, Investment Director of UniTartu Ventures, an investment company of the University of Tartu.

At the workshop “How Can You Measure the Progress of Your Deep Tech Startup?” Donnie SC Lygonis will present the KTH Innovation Readiness Level™, a framework from the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology that is widely used around the world to measure the maturity of a research-intensive idea and provide guidance and support on the journey from research to business.  The Royal Institute of Technology is based in Stockholm and is one of the leading technical universities in Europe.

The seminar “Online hackathon Open Innovation Academy” will explore the oiACADEMY program of the European Innovation Institute, an innovation and entrepreneurship program for the manufacturing sector. The seminar will be led by Aivar Pere and Andres Vaher.

Tartu Ülikool Startup Day demoalal
University of Tartu in Startup Day demo area (author: Mirjam Savioja)

Demo area

In the Startup Day demo area, the university will focus on entrepreneurship and innovation. On 25 January, a full day of discussions will be recorded in the studio corner, answering burning questions about research-intensive entrepreneurship.

On 26 January from 9:50, the Startup Day Pitching Stage will host the Delta X best of the best competition between the six teams that participated in the Delta X competition on 14 December.


There is a lot that is unpredictable in the world of startups, so it is important to remain calm when the stakes are high. Are you able to stay calm when you have reached out to investors but forget your pitch or discover you've lost a valuable prototype? The Laboratory of Neuromarketing at the University of Tartu uses science to find out just how cool-headed Startup Day attendees can remain. True, you do not have to face investors this time. Instead, the university’s marketing researchers will use special technology to detect the emotional reactions of the participants. In this way, they can test whether they manage to hide their emotions in situations designed to provoke them. A prize will be awarded to the best poker face.

The Institute of Computer Science will showcase a digital twin of the city of Tartu in the demo area, which will be used for teaching and developing autonomous cars and for research on mobility in general. In addition, you can discover the latest developments of the researchers and see familiar favourites of Startup Day participants.

The Institute of Technology will demonstrate its exciting achievements to everyone interested. For example, participants will be able to take on an obstacle course with Robotond, developed at the University of Tartu, solve tasks with the xArm 7 robot manipulator and much more!

In the demo area, the university’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation will showcase the opportunities for research-intensive collaboration between the private sector and the university. We will also show how researchers can become entrepreneurs and how the university can help them on this path.

The Tartu Observatory’s experimental laboratories are energy-efficient and test electronic devices under extreme conditions. They shake, irradiate, energize, and pull the devices into a vacuum. If the device passes the tests, it most likely meets the European Space Agency’s reliability standards. We invite Startup Day visitors to join the hammer game, where they have to match the computer’s force of a fraction of newtons with a hammer strike.

The Tartu Observatory does applied research. Its space technology scientists join the European Space Agency’s missions. In 2023, the Remote Sensing Science Department produced a map of young forests that need maintenance felling.

Silklytics is a company that develops a novel microfluidic technology for affordable chemical analyses. The technology uses porous materials to measure various substances in liquids. The company aims to apply its solution to agriculture and laboratory medicine. In agriculture, the technology can help farmers optimize their fertilizer use by measuring plant and soil micronutrients. In laboratory medicine, the technology can help diagnose biotin (vitamin B7) deficiency in human blood. 

This is a game that was released in 2019, after undergoing extensive development and testing. The game is available for purchase and in a digital format. The game offers a fun and relaxing way to cope with various issues that people face in their daily lives, from serious to trivial.

On 25 January, a packed programme of discussions on research-intensive entrepreneurship and stories by researchers-turned-entrepreneurs will be recorded in the university demo area. The programme will be published soon.

In addition, Startup Day will have side events. On 24 January, the Institute of Computer Science will organise a data science seminar at the Delta Centre, moderated by Jaan Aru, Associate Professor of Computational Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence. The Delta Centre will also host a workshop on design thinking.

NB! The programme is not final.