Skill2Scale Capacity building on start up  programmes for HEIs: “Catalyzing Startup Success in HEIs”

Author: Michael Mandamadiotis

On November the 22nd, at 15:00 CET the 1st Capacity Building on Startup programmes took place digitally. Participants were academic and non-academic staff, faculty members, administrative personnel, students, PHD candidates, other actors of the academia from European universities and potential startuppers.. The goal of this event was to demonstrate how universities can develop internal mechanisms that will help students transform their ideas into innovative and viable startups, with a specific focus on incubator services. Best practices from universities were showcased.

Speakers from spanish Higher Education Institutes (UPV) spoke about their long journey in supporting startups, while greek stakeholders (Unifund, Ideas Forward) also narrated how they provide supporting services in the respective universities (Aristotle  University of Macedonia and Athens University of Business and Economics). Additionally, a success story of a greek Startup was showcased and how it managed to be founded by great doctors who, until the creation of it, were solely focused on their academic research.

First, Israel Barres Grios from UPV. with his role as Technical Superior and Manager at STARTUPV talked about the complex, multilevel ecosystem that UPV has created for the purpose of supporting student led startups.  STARTUPV is the UPV entrepreneurship ecosystem created in 2012 that has incubated more than 200 startups. It has cultivated a lot of bright ideas and transformed them into successful startups with global presence and recognition, with a highlight of winning an award in the SpaceX competition, having to compete with teams from MIT, and beating them. Israel’s credibility made a great start for the event and raised the standard for the next speakers.

The next slot was covered by Dimitrios Kourtesis, co-founder of Ideas Forward, a technology venture studio in Thessaloniki, where they “build and back ventures and transform cutting-edge ICT into market innovation”. Having been involved in lots of initiatives that began from scratch, he has seen a lot of initiatives that succeed and did not succeed. Due to vast experience, his input was extremely valuable for our participants.

Following, Katerina Pramatari from UniFund and Professor at the Athens University of Economics and Business shared her experience in supporting the growth of successful ventures that address emerging market needs and leverage the hidden potential that exists in the Greek Universities, R&D and Tech Space. Uni.Fund focuses on people and team development, enhancement of key strengths and implementation of successful go-to-market strategies. We believe that this approach was very remarkable and we wanted to highlight that in HEIs, having a mechanism that can connect the incubated startup with the real market can be a significant asset.

A highlight of this event was the input of Dimitris Makris, Managing Director of RTSafe. RTSafe is a medical technology company that has developed a unique approach to quality assurance that significantly enhances the safety and accuracy of radiotherapy for cancer and other medical conditions. Born in the University of West Attica by a group of professors and phd students, RTSafe is a brilliant example of what can be achieved if entrepreneurship is combined with academia.

The “Catalyzing Startup Success in HEIs” event has been quite successful. We managed to gather a significant number of 28 people that are academic and non-academic staff of European HEIs and can now take inspiration from the best practices they got familiar with through this capacity building programme and incorporate them in the universities they work. This webinar, complemented with a second webinar, focused on acceleration of startups  in HEIs that will take place in the second phase of the project, is a very aimful tool that the SKills2Scale utilised to achieve its objective, to transform universities into catalysts of innovation.

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