St Petersburg University is launching the sixth ‘SPbU Start-up 2021’ contest for innovative business projects. Applications will be accepted from 10 November until 10 December 2020. The main prizes are grants of 1,000,000 and 700,000 roubles provided by the St Petersburg University Endowment Fund. These grants will allow the winners to open their own small innovative enterprises in cooperation with the University. This year the total prize fund will be 2.6 million roubles.

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Grigory Kunis is co-founder and manager of the igooods delivery service, one of the most successful Russian entrepreneurs in the food industry. He will chair the Expert Council which will assess the start-up projects.

This year the list of topics for competitive projects was updated to include artificial intelligence, bioinformatics, medical technology, ecology, sustainable development and agro-technology of the future, smart space technology, digital university, IT-technology in the socio-cultural environment, and foresight and future technologies (mass media of the future).

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The winners of the competition in previous years included: the Speechkah Russian language course without an intermediary language; the developers of α-Tear-Test for Parkinson’s disease; the authors of the sugar control patch project Displast; and many other talented start-ups.

The participants of the contest are multi-disciplinary teams developing a business idea. Each team must have at least three to five students or postgraduates from St Petersburg University who are developing a scientific and commercially promising project. They will have to complete three stages: remote evaluation, the results of which will be known by 21 December; personal meeting with experts and presentation of projects in February; and the final contest on 27 May 2021.

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The successful candidates will have to pass a rigorous screening in the second stage of the competition. They will receive a scholarship from the St Petersburg University Endowment Fund in the amount of 10,000 roubles for each team member in March, April and May 2021. In addition, they will take an additional educational course in ‘Start-up School’ and attend a master class on public speaking. They will also be able to defend their start-up project instead of a final graduation project.

Winners of ‘SPbU Start-up 2021’ will receive cash prizes: 300 000 roubles for the first place, 200 000 roubles for second, and 100 000 roubles for third.

In addition, two small innovative ventures established together with the University on the basis of winning projects will receive two grants from the Fund to develop their companies: 1,000,000 roubles and 700,000 roubles (depending on the number of points earned). Research supervisors of teams can also take part in the contest: if their students take one of the three prizes, the instructors will receive awards in the amount of 100,000 roubles.

The application form and detailed guidelines for ‘SPbU Start-up 2021’ can be found in the contest regulations.

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