Ukraine’s Science and Technology Stars

Ukraine’s Science and Technology Stars

Ukraine’s Science and Technology Stars Shine Bright Light on Value of GIST’s Business Incubation Program

June 13, 2023

In the summer of 2022, as the global pandemic began to wind down, a war continued to escalate in Eastern Europe. Earlier that winter in Ukraine, as people began to emerge from almost two years of isolating and the near non-existence of public gatherings, Russia invaded, plunging the entire region into a humanitarian crisis. As more than five million Ukrainians fled to neighboring countries and another seven million were displaced within Ukraine, local economies stalled or completely disintegrated. 

Known for its strong IT industry and its cutting edge AI and cybersecurity work, Ukraine has been seen by some as a rising star in Eastern Europe. Even through the conflict, it has prioritized maintaining its tech sector. 

Set against this backdrop, the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) initiative saw an opportunity to leverage one of its entrepreneurship training programs to support Ukrainian science and technology innovators. And, in its own small way, work to help the besieged country and important U.S. ally. 

GIST’s Business Incubation Ukraine launched an open call for innovators from Ukraine in the summer of 2022, inviting founders of science and technology startups to apply for the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and first-hand experience in the U.S. business ecosystem. Through partnerships with Ukrainian organizations, GIST received applications from founders representing a wide variety of industries. From fintech and aerospace, to energy and logistics, the pool of applicants was both extensive and representative of the creative talent Ukraine has built. 

Ultimately the program would bring 14 Ukrainian entrepreneurs to the U.S., embedding them into innovation ecosystems in Tuscan, Phoenix, and Chicago. At nearly six months, the length of stay was five times longer than any previous Business Incubation program run by GIST. The goal was to provide a deep, impactful experience, filled with opportunities and learnings that would support substantial growth in the fledgling companies.

Beginning in the late Fall of 2022, founders began arriving in the U.S. and being integrated into their new communities. For founders like Nadiia Yuzkova of BannerBoo, that community would be the local entrepreneurial ecosystem in Chicago. 


As we entered the summer of 2023, and the Business Incubation Ukraine program came to a conclusion, we sat down with three of the members of the Chicago cohort about their expectations, experiences, and successes while in the U.S. Universally, each explained that their stays were overwhelmingly positive and important to the success of their startups.

Each innovator had a different take on the program, but they agreed that the Washington, D.C. portions of the program provided some of the most memorable experiences. The first segment in March was a series of trainings and meetings with high-level government officials from both the U.S. and Ukraine. 

The second D.C. experience occurred at the SelectUSA Investment Summit in May of 2023. Nearly five thousand people representing more than 80 economies participated in the event over four days. In addition to the series of panel discussions, exhibitions, and presentations from high-level officials, the GIST Ukrainian innovators were able to join a larger cohort of Ukrainian entrepreneurs and representatives including the Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova.


Another significant takeaway from the Incubation program by the innovators was that they made deep connections within their local ecosystems and credited the length of stay with their ability to do so. The original GIST Business Incubation program, which ran in the fall of 2019, occurred over just six weeks and was spread over a half dozen incubators throughout the country. Unlike that stay, Ukrainian innovators spent months in their new communities, getting to know the culture of each and developing relationships in the local ecosystems. The benefits included deeper connections and more networking opportunities, as well as more frequent chances to meet face-to-face with potential customers. 


Additionally, each innovator mentioned the value of being incubated at the 1871 Innovation Hub. Being included in a group of more than 400 other early-stage entrepreneurs, and having the chance to work from a location that hosts so many networking and learning events, the Ukrainian cohort had ample opportunity to meet U.S. innovators and share learnings.   

As the program comes to an end, the innovators are already envisioning what their future will look like, and how they can use the experience of the GIST Business Incubation as a springboard to further successes. For some, the experience is already creating new opportunities. 

Learn more about how GIST has worked to support science and technology innovators in Ukraine through programs like GIST Business Incubation Ukraine and others by visiting our dedicated GIST Ukraine series page. 

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. Read More.