ICEBREAKERS BLOG
In the search for the potential of young entrepreneurs and creating a map to make their dreams come true
"Startup Space" is the business incubator of Kaunas University of Technology (KTU). It was founded in 2012 and the goal was clear: actively work with innovative startups and help them discover all the opportunities that arise to those who are dedicated.

KTU is one the largest technological universities in the Baltics. It is known for its linkages with business, leadership in scientific research, flexible interdisciplinary study programmes and unforgettable study experience. In 2012 KTU founded the first most successful academic incubator named KTU „Startup Space" ensuring space and resources for young business. Since the beginning, more than 70 companies have been established, which created more than 110 jobs. Among them are game creators, IT professionals, chemistry experts and others.

Asking what is the incubation process in "Startup Space", the first thing they do is have a few agreements with each team. To see the intention of each team, they take a motivation test which takes 1 to 3 weeks. Usually the incubator scouts for teams which are at a very early stage of development. The team's intention is one of the cornerstones deciding whether the team could and should join the community. After accepting the teams the incubator gives them access to a mentor network, own office space and all "Startup Space" resources. Incubation process takes 12 months with possible extension if the team is motivated to develop their prototype further. Incubation programme concerns four main branches: business idea development, MVP creation, business establishment and growth, scaling and fundraising.

In the end of the incubation programme, teams have the main understanding of the process necessary to effectively scale-up, from local market to a global operation takes time and experiments. Key metrics can predict the situation but not show exactly how it is going to be.

Every incubator can be proud of their teams but there are a few teams in KTU "Startup Space" worth mentioning. When I asked about their most successful teams, they replied without hesitation (Go check them out!): "Sneakybox" - game creators and one of the biggest gamers in Kaunas nowadays. Started at KTU "Startup Space" with four members in their team, today has more than 30 employees with an experience in computer science and graphics, and are united by their love for video games.

Another great example is a team named "Searchnode" which works on development of search solutions for e-commerce businesses. The core of the company's work is IT (programming, development of algorithms, etc.) with commercial and business aspects (sales, market analysis, analysis of competitors, marketing, investments, etc.). „Searchnode" clients are some of the largest Eastern European businesses. The company was named as one of the TOP 30 Baltic Entrepreneurs to watch in 2017 by Forbes.

KTU "Startup Space" has not only great and successful teams but also international projects they are proud of. Collaboration with other institutions and partners provides an opportunity for greater variety of training and experience exchange. The incubator is an active member of the regional cooperation project Interreg Lithuania-Poland. Cooperation programme LT-PL CooPlatform was seeking to create an interactive common LT-PL CooPlatform with the guidelines "Good practice of launching entrepreneurs" and "Good practice of accelerating business entities".

Another great example is Lithuania-Latvia common implemented project CREAzone Reinvent. In 2018-2020 CREAzone 2.0 Reinvent was implemented by the KTU with its partners as part of Interreg V-A Latvia-Lithuania Programme 2014-2020. The common goal was to unite stakeholders working with new entrepreneurs and collaborating with other players.

What is more, "Startup Space" has close links with the European Institute of Innovation and Technology as the team represents the EIT Food, EIT Health and EIT RawMaterials in Lithuania. Each of the EIT Hubs are packed with activities, info days, funding opportunities, networking and collaboration initiatives, as the team dedicates its efforts towards bridging gaps and creating links between entrepreneurs, researchers and industry representatives.

In the end "Startup Space" is all about persistence! To work hard and go on vocation with your first million? Well, that's just one of the goals for people of this inspiring incubator!
Festival is supported by ERDF co-financed project No. 1.1.1.3/18/A/007 "University of Latvia innovation grants for students".
Māra Birzniece in association with Gintare Ambrozaityte (KTU "Startup Space")
on August 12th, 2020
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