Posted Friday 29 July 2022
Kingston University's enterprise education expertise has helped several teams of young creative entrepreneurs in Ukraine take home top awards for their innovative start-up ideas in this year's British Council Creative Spark Big Idea Challenge.
The video pitch competition is part of a programme funded by the British Council, the UK's international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. The programme was set up to encourage young people to develop an innovative start-up, and to help drive creative economy and enterprise skills across seven countries through UK university partnerships.
Recently ranked number one for graduate start-ups out of all higher education institutions in the United Kingdom in the latest Higher Education - Business and Community Interaction (HE-BCI) survey, Kingston University has been working in partnership with the NGO Tech Start-Up School (TSUS) of Lviv Polytechnic National University since 2018, sharing expertise and training staff from the Ukrainian institution to help support enterprising students.
In this year's competition, student teams supported by the partnership won all three of the Ukraine categories for a business start-up, scooped the Ukraine public vote, and were also named the overall Ukraine National Champion.
The top prize went to SaveArtUA, a charity foundation set up by a team of students from the Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv, to collect information about destroyed cultural sites across Ukraine and raise money for their preservation. Other awards for start-ups include one centred around an application for time management of winter sports during training and competition, as well as an educational game aimed at raising the idea of media literacy and a platform for volunteer management.
All the winners will receive mentoring support to develop their business ideas, and the national champion receives £1,000 to assist the development of their start-up.
CEO of the Tech Startup School of Lviv Polytechnic National University, Professor Nazar Podolchak, said the partnership with Kingston University was helping nurture young entrepreneurial talent in the country by creating an environment of inspiration, creativity and innovation.
"Students and young entrepreneurs work in groups and go through all start-up establishment stages, from idea validation to the first customers," he said. "The shared values, ideas and dedication of the teams at the Startup School and Kingston have really made it possible to obtain such significant results through our work together."
In the latest phase of their enterprise work, the Start-Up School will soon be opening a creative hub in Lviv as an offline space that brings together creative people and young entrepreneurs to help them cooperate, improve enterprise skills capacity, and form communities.
Kingston University's head of enterprise education Martha Mador said her team was delighted to have been able to help establish a new approach for supporting start-ups in western Ukraine through the knowledge exchange project. "We've been working with Professor Podolchak's institution for several years now to share our expertise and experiential approach to learning and teaching, as well as providing training for their staff, who have visited us for bootcamps and now set up a substantial incubation hub in the country," she said.
"The materials and techniques we've worked with them to develop are having a real impact across several cities in Ukraine and it's really exciting to see what the entrepreneurial students coming through this programme are creating."
Since 2018 the partnership has been coordinated by Dr Alan Flowers, a former Kingston University engineering lecturer and radiological protection officer who now holds an honorary academic post with the institution. During the past four years, teams supported by the two universities have won the country champion award three times as well as several category awards each year, which Dr Flowers said exemplified the commitment of all those involved.
"The partnership has been a huge success and the team over in Ukraine deserve immense credit for what they have achieved, particularly in their support for students during what has been an incredibly difficult period for everyone in the country during the past few months," he said. "We're delighted to be helping cement a strong bilateral British-Ukraine relationship through this work, which is providing idea sharing, training and access to our sector-leading enterprise expertise."
The Creative Spark competition, which is supported by London Metropolitan University, has empowered young entrepreneurs to submit more than 250 new business ideas this year from across 70 institutions in seven countries - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.