CRDF Global has been actively involved in developing university-based technology acceleration programs in Russia. In the Fall of 2016, CRDF Global, in conjunction with the Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises (FASIE) of the Russian Federation, invited entrepreneurship and innovation professionals in Russia to compete in a “train-the-trainer” program for its annual Technology Entrepreneurship Development Program (TEDP). This program assisted Russia’s emerging technology commercialization experts to refine their coaching skills, expand their practical knowledge, and gain international experience to be better assist fellow entrepreneurs in their entrepreneurial pursuits. Winners of the competition would receive a travel grant to the United States to visit leading U.S. innovation hubs.
One of those winners was Aleksandr Gretskov, director of Startup Center, an entrepreneurship innovation center in Samara. Aleksandr was able to participate in CRDF Global’s organized travel grant program and visited several innovation hubs in the United States, including Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and 1776 Startup Incubator in Washington D.C. as well as Startup World Cup, an innovation forum in Silicon Valley, California. He even was able to meet Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Inc. For Aleksandr, CRDF’s train-the-trainer program provided him with invaluable advice to further grow his university-based Startup Center.
Since Aleksandr’s completion of TEDP and visit to the United States, Startup Samara has rapidly grown from its once-modest beginnings. Over the past two years alone, the Startup Center has conducted over 200 events with almost 15,000 attendees in total. In addition, Startup Samara has launched 9 acceleration programs and 5 corporate acceleration programs in cooperation with the Russian Venture Company (RVC).
Several months ago, CRDF Global’s exerts were invited to conduct a technology entrepreneurship bootcamp at Startup Samara on September 10-11, 2018. The two-day event attracted more than 300 students and was hosted by the Samara National Research University. CRDF Global provided information about the main aspects of technology entrepreneurship to large audiences. For example, Alex Kosik’s lecture on Technology Entrepreneurship at the University campus has been recorded and viewed 39,112 times.
Before and during the Samara Startup bootcamp competition finale, CRDF Global experts mentored twelve pre-selected startup teams in group sessions and or via individual coaching. Bootcamp participants learned how to identify market problems (market pain) that a certain innovation can solve, how to refine business model, identify customers, and sources of seed funding. The three best teams received awards of various sizes, namely, online mentorship support for 20, 10, and 5 hours, respectively.
“The most important thing that a person has is his time and mentoring and communicating with such cool speakers as Alex and Catherine helps to greatly reduce the time for the typical mistakes of any startup,” says Aleksandr. “The autumn event with CRDF Global was amazingly successful. We saw it as an opportunity to test the idea for project initiators and those who just want to start innovating. After, we had a record – more than 120 applicants – for participation in the Fast and Furious Accelerator 3.”
Prior to the Startup Samara event CRDF Global’s team of experts took part in the region’s largest business angel/technology entrepreneurship event “Volga Angels” on September 7-9, 2018. This particular event, Volga Angels, The International Summit of Early Stage Investors, brought together more than 200 participants from 22 countries around the world. Included in these participants were representatives of venture funds, large corporations, and development institutions from Russia, Europe, and the United States.
Aleksandr’s journey has taken him back to the United States to Corvallis, Oregon, home of Oregon State University. Aleksandr is participating in Professional Fellows Program (PFP), an exchange program through the Bureau of Education and Cultural in the United States Department of State. PFP participants are placed in 5-6 week fellowships in non-profit organizations, private sector businesses, and government offices across the US for an individually tailored professional development experience. Alexsandr looks forward to employing the skills he learned during the PFP for his peers back home in Samara.