Ukrainian university lecturers develop entrepreneurial knowledge in the Startup Lab training programme

On Thursday, 8 June, the spring semester of the Estonian-Ukrainian cooperation project ended with an online Demo Day, where teams of Ukrainian university lecturers presented the business ideas they had developed over the previous four months.

Estonian Ambassador to Ukraine Kaimo Kuusk greeted the participants and wished them success. The jury recognised Balcony Life, the team of lecturers from Dnipro, Khmelnytsk, Lutsk and Lviv, as the best team. Balcony Life is an app that gives recommendations and advice for developing green balconies and growing plants. The winning team will visit the international business festival Startup Day in Tartu in August. More than seventy lecturers from Ukrainian universities participated in the programme in the spring semester.

UnivEntre is an international cooperation project of the University of Tartu Startup Lab focusing on improving the efficiency of the Ukrainian higher educational system with the aim to promote the teaching quality and support the innovation capacity of universities. The development of university lecturers’ entrepreneurial competence is the first stage of the project, and it is designed on the basis of the methodology and experience of the Starter idea development programme. The teams of lecturers gained hands-on idea development experience and advice on how to make their teaching more meaningful.

As leaders of workshops, Juko-Mart Kõlar, Taavi Tamm, Mari Karm and Maret Ahonen of the University of Tartu contributed to developing the competencies of the Ukrainian lecturers. In addition, Marelle Ellen from Promoty shared marketing knowledge and Denis Kovalenko from Bolt, a graduate of the University of Tartu and Starter programme, was a member of the jury. Mentors Ants-Oskar Mäesalu (TRIT) and Leonid Nikolajev (Glia) gave feedback to the teams.

According to Piret Arusaar, Senior Project Specialist at the School of Economics and Business Administration and Project Manager at Startup Lab, the training programme started on 21 February. Although the activities were interrupted for a month, participants were ready to continue the training and even new lectures were included in the programme. “The quality of education is definitely one of the most important factors for Ukraine’s future. During the programme, we perceived the participants’ strong willingness to acquire new knowledge and skills, even though communication was limited due to the complicated situation. Before the war, Startup Lab contributed to the development of the new start-up entrepreneurship course that 85 Ukrainian universities launched in spring 2021. As this topic is new in university curricula, Ukrainian universities need at least a hundred lecturers with appropriate competence,” said Piret Arusaar.

According to Maret Ahonen, Manager of Startup Lab, a cooperative network of entrepreneurial lecturers had just been formed before the war and many universities had started to make their first steps towards becoming an entrepreneurial university. “Despite the horrors of war, the entrepreneurial spirit has not disappeared and we are delighted that lecturers from different universities are interested in developing their entrepreneurial knowledge and skills and passing them on to their students in the best possible way,” Maret Ahonen added.

Startup Lab has been supporting the development of the Ukrainian higher educational system since 2016 in cooperation with the Ukrainian partner, NGO Platform of Innovative Partnership. Under the brand name YEP, the NGO links more than 80 Ukrainian universities.

The project is supported by the Estonian Centre for International Development Cooperation (ESTDEV).

More information: Piret Arusaar, Head of Starter programme at the School of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu, 516 2945,