Community meetup: Quo vadis, startup education?

Our second community meetup of the year was held on the 2nd of March and this time the topic was startup related higher education. Startup Estonia welcomed around 25 people who discussed the topic and pointed out what is the current situation and what could be done to make it better.

Startup education is not yet much discussed topic in Estonia and that might be one of the reasons why
Estonia has only few programs that support startup related higher education though 8 universities are involved in startup education in one way or another.
The newness might also explain the lack of cooperation between different educational institutions in Estonia – that was mentioned as one of the problems Estonian startup education scene faces today.

  Four people introduced different programs that are  
  currently in practice in Estonia. Piret Arusaar talked  
  about the pre-incubation programme in the  
  University of Tartu which was launched in January.  
  The programme has 6 different work-packages that   all aim to raise awareness on the topic of 
  entrepreneurship. The goal for this programme is to
  graduate 200 teams. The programme has had successful kickoff events: Ideede rajuIdeede  
 and Loomehäkk.

After the main coordinator of the pre-incubation programme explained the whole approach, it was time to hear about one university’s example in particular. Anu Oks talked about Tallinn University of Technology's half year programme
How to start up? and the place where to do it, Mektory, where most of the entrepreneurial action happens.
There are currently seven startups working in Mektory and many success stories were pointed out, such as CoModule, Leansite and others.
This kind of program can be understood
as a long-term hackathon, where you're given
quite a lot of time and space to think each
aspect of creating a startup and your entrepreneurial path through. Even if you don’t have an idea for your startup at first, the programme will provide you with the necessary knowledge and tools to assess startup ideas and establish a company in the future. You can find more info about the open lectures and the programme here!

Both Anu Oks as well as Piret Arusaar agreed that the overall aim is to change the mindset – to make people be more openminded towards entrepreneurship.

  As Toomas Danneberg from the Estonian Business  
  School pointed out: "One thing is cultivating the
  startup mindset, other approach must be how to
  make changes in corporate companies because
  there are systems that really need innovation.”
  Danneberg also introduced the programme in EBS –
  Business Innovation MBA which is much like a
  startup itself because EBS tries to understand what
  are some real business problems to address in its
  curriculum. Of course there are challenges like in any startup and Toomas brought out two: how to work with other universities' students in order to find necessary people for student teams and where to find the top notch people who are able to provide knowledge and mentoring? We also heard from Mainor University, where the first 9 students started an intense learning-by-doing 3-year startup entrepreneurship curriculum where a professional education is obtained by building one's own startup. The programme is made up of various building blocks, such as product design, market validation and team building. Check out the whole curriculum here.

Two problems: cooperation and finding mentors were the questions that need further discussion
and solutions. Also, in almost any startup education programme in Estonia, there are many visionaries who find it difficult to find developers. One possible solution would be to provide IT students credit points for helping out those who are in startup education programmes. In this way, the developers could work on a real case and get credits as well as
the business innovators could have a practical experience on how to make a product, design it
and market it. Furthermore, the community concluded that it’s important to communicate the cooperation even more. Most of the training sessions are free in participation. You can find the calendar of training sessions here: Startup Estonia's event calendar! Feel free to participate whether you are a student, a mentor or just curious about startups! :)

The next community meetup will be held on the 30th of March at 5pm in Tartu at the Garage48 HUB Tartu, topic TBA!

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