Ukrainian Innovation Rises to The Challenge

Ukrainian Innovation Rises to The Challenge

Learn More About Our Ongoing Support For Ukrainian Innovators, On the Ground and Around the World

August 15, 2022

As we launch our latest Ukraine-focused program with U.S. Business Incubation, we invite you to learn more about the larger work of the GIST Initiative in supporting Ukraine over the last year and beyond. We believe in the strength and resiliency of the science and technology ecosystems of Ukraine and are continually inspired by their perseverance and vision in using innovation to build a new path forward. GIST has supported Ukrainian innovation across multiple fronts, including direct support of multiple Innovation Hubs spread throughout the country, as well as supporting Ukrainian innovators in attending global ecosystem events. 

GIST is proud to support 7 different Ukrainian Innovation Hubs, each working tirelessly to help foster and support Ukraine’s innovation community, now more than ever in this challenging time. Despite the difficulties of the last year, these Innovation Hubs have been able to continue doing extraordinary work. Here are updates on the tremendous work being done in Ukraine from four of our official GIST Innovation Hubs.
 

Building Ecosystems and Connecting Stakeholders

Located in the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, Sikorsky Challenge Ukraine seeks to unite the country's institutions (universities, research institutions, state and local authorities, corporations, and NGOs) in the development of the Ukrainian innovation economy. Sikorsky Challenge worked to implement the Startup School project, with the additional support of the USAID Economic Resilience Activity program. Twelve startup projects were developed in the program by professors and students trained within this effort. The startups then took part in the Festival of Innovation with 5 teams winning various prizes. 

The leaders of the Sikorsky Challenge described it as “a great opportunity for the startup teams to present their projects at the national and international level, in front of experts in innovation, business angels, investment funds, and major high-tech companies. It was also a good chance for networking with colleagues, experts, and investors from other regions of Ukraine and abroad, to exchange experience in the development of the innovation clusters, and finding new partners. This prompted the startup teams to improve their business models, find new areas of application for their products, try new ways to find business partners, and more.” 

Six months later, in February 2022, the presentation of these projects at the regional competition showed that the startup teams had used the experience to make significant progress in the development of their projects, with a selection of the ventures having signed collaboration agreements with larger companies and others receiving their first angel investments.
 

Catalyzing Startups and Funding the Future

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We are proud to also support  the Ukrainian GIST IHub Future Business Incubator, who initiated the “Empowering Future Entrepreneurial Ukraine” program, a joint project with the Junior Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. The project, which was one of the first to support startups in Ukraine during the war, attracted more than €55,000 in grants and indirect funding. Immediately after the end of this event, preparations began for the regional selection of Ukrainian innovators to participate in the Startup World Cup - a startup pitch competition with the final in Silicon Valley and a main prize of $1,000,000. 

Ukrainian Future launched the Startup Accelerator Program, an intensive educational program for early-stage ventures. The startup teams that participated acquired knowledge that allowed them to develop their projects and bring them to a new level of development. At the final pitch of the program, $36,000 in indirect funding was distributed to 5 startup teams: 

  • Efarm.pro, a device navigator for agricultural machinery 
  • i3 Engineering, “smart house” solutions 
  • OK TOWN, a tourist assistant application
  • Crypto Code Call, a device for the confidentiality of telephone conversations
  • Bear Band, a bracelet for non-invasive diagnostics of infectious diseases like COVID-19

The winning teams received:
• 3 vouchers for tickets to participate in the Web Marketing Festival 2022
• 3 vouchers for Ukrainian Future business incubator services, worth $2,000 each
• 3 vouchers for $10,000 in Amazon Web Services

One often overlooked goal of entrepreneurial programs is achieving the long-term success of startups. Young startups need continued support to grow and scale their ventures. UF’s program has worked toward each of these ventures’ ongoing success since the competition by helping them win an additional selection of grants and prizes. This has resulted in the startups hitting key venture milestones, propelling them toward sustained success. We are encouraged to see GIST support utilized to such positive outcomes.

GIST support also provided support for the Innovation Hub Startup Depot in Lviv, Ukraine. As a co-organizer for the IT Arena 2021 conference, Startup Depot launched a competition for 30 early-stage startups allowing them to deepen connections and strengthen ties within the community. 

Based in Kharkiv, the GIST IHub Young Scientist Council hosted the official opening of the SPARK Startup Center, launching an event series and conducting the "Innovative and Entrepreneurial Bootcamp" training program, which had over 135 attendees in-person and 2300 people connecting remotely. They are also hard at work consolidating and building relationships and supporting infrastructure between 16 technological universities in Ukraine (with a total of 65,000 students), building a field of exchange, and consolidating efforts to raise awareness and fuel the growth of a start-up culture, with the possibility of creating special training programs. To date, they have launched two original training courses at Kharkiv Polytechnic University: "Innovative and Entrepreneurial Bootcamp" - for students, and "Fundamentals of Project Work for Technology Startups"- for young scientists and student mentors.

In addition to our long-standing support of the Ukrainian innovation ecosystem through Innovation Hubs, we have also endeavored to catalyze Ukrainian innovators directly, working to center their participation in a variety of global ecosystem events. 

A First for Ukraine

From June 20-23, GIST helped support 8 different Ukrainian startups to attend the Collision Tech Conference in Toronto, the largest and fastest growing technology conference in North America. The event brought together over 35,000 visitors from 130 countries, over 1,000 different startups, and more than 800 investors, joined by over 1,200 journalists and 250 partners. This was the first ever delegation from Ukraine to present at this event, represented by an alley of startups, a national stand, and a special program.


8 Ukrainian startups received travel stipends allowing them to present their innovative projects at this international tech conference: effa, Elai.io, Handy.AI, Harmix, ImageryWard, Jiffsy Platform, NanitRobot, and zeely.app.  
As Pavlo Kartashov, Director of the Ukrainian Startup Fund, described: “It was nice to see the special attention of the international community to our Ukrainian startups. They have proven their technological skills on the world stage. We hope that despite the difficult situation in Ukraine, startups will be able to more actively enter the global market, demonstrating our innovative potential and a powerful technological ecosystem. I am grateful to all partners for their support in organizing the Ukrainian pavilion.” 

We are excited and inspired by the future opportunities in supporting Ukrainian innovators on the horizon. We are working to support the Ukrainian startup teams looking to compete at the return of the Startup World Cup in San Francisco. We are also partnering with the Ukrainian Startup Fund to support 8 Ukrainian startups to participate in TechBBQ Copenhagen and the Ukrainian delegation to WebSummit Portugal , the largest tech event in Europe, which this year will be represented by 24 startups. Building off of the success of our previous program in sending Ukrainian teams to CES in Las Vegas, we are proud to announce the return of that effort as we send 8 Ukrainian teams to next year’s CES event. 

Between Innovation Hubs on the ground in Ukraine, and a global ecosystem of support that GIST is honored to be a part of, Ukrainian Innovators are leveraging every opportunity they can to show the world the passion, resilience, and ingenuity of their innovation culture. GIST has had an extensive history in the country that we are proud of, one that goes far beyond this current moment of crisis and one which will continue well into the future. We are inspired every day by the vision these innovators bring, and look forward to continuing to support bringing it to life.

Subscribe to our newsletter to see the latest news and updates from this region and globally, and follow along with the journey of 15 Ukrainian innovators as we launch our latest Business Incubation program here in the United States. 

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