Springboard: More cross-border university startups
The third kick-off of the Springboard project took place from 16.-17.03.2017 in Tehnopol Incubator in Tallinn, organized together with the Department of Business Administration and Tehnopol.
About 80 students, teachers and entrepreneurship experts from Turku, Riga and Tallinn met in order to present new business ideas, to establish cross-border contacts and to develop university startups.
Until now university startups are filling around 10% of all places in business incubators in Estonia, Finland and Latvia. Furthermore, the majority of all startups are still regional based, i.e. the startup teams are meeting and working together at one place in the same country. Therefore European Union approved in 2015 in the frame in the Central Baltic Interreg program the cross-border business acceleration project “CB Startup Springboard” with the partner Turku Science Park, University of Turku, Riga Technical University, Riga Technology Park, Tehnopol and Tallinn University of Technology. The consortium cooperated and developed a transnational entrepreneurship program to support the development of new joint and co-operating knowledge-intensive startups springing up of the shared smart specialization areas (ICT, cleantech and healthtech) of the participating regions. Main target of Springboard is to increase capacity for international startups in the Central Baltic region, which includes the enhanced support in the process of turning university-based business ideas to viable businesses and fostering of cross-border cooperation in the early stage of business development.
About 85 teams with 350 students from Riga, Tallinn and Turku have participated in the joint 10-week business acceleration programs in Riga, Tallinn and Turku. The most potential teams have been then selected in regional competitions and forwarded to international level. The kick-off event of the third international phase, which just took place in Tallinn, brought the 30 winning teams from Estonia, Finland and Latvia together in order to find cross-border cooperation, to get prepared for targeted B2B matchmaking activities, and to be educated and coached by regional entrepreneurship experts. By combining expertise across borders, it is easier even for early-stage companies to find and market potential business ideas and to establish globally competitive joint teams with versatile know-how and experience. By doing so Springboard facilitates a smooth path from universities to business incubators and accelerators which fills an existing gap even though universities educate graduates with research competence and seek to combine it with entrepreneurial and innovation competence.
The results of the Springboard project so far proved that the university start-up teams groups exhibited a high level of creativity in finding new business ideas and huge entrepreneurial potential so Central Baltic region is well placed as a globally competitive center of knowledge-intensive, born global startups aiming for rapid growth. “We are positively surprised about the creativity, the motivation and results of the project until now. The project generated a large number of great business ideas and it turned out that cross-border cooperation in early state of entrepreneurship can be a strong benefit for university startups since the small regional home markets require common tools and international networks to deploy the full potential of globally competitive businesses”, stated Prof. Urve Venesaar and Prof. Gunnar Prause who are both responsible for the Springboard project at the Department of Business Administration of TTÜ. Till the project end this year Springboard will establish 15 new joint or co-operating knowledge intensive Central Baltic companies aiming for rapid and sustainable growth.