ITMO University’s Business Incubator Named Among World’s Best

On February 22-23, Ryerson University (Toronto, Canada) hosted the World Incubation Summit, at which the world’s best university-linked business incubators and accelerators were recognized. In the 2017 ranking, compiled by the Swedish analytics company UBI Global, ITMO University entered the top-20 in 14th place. For ITMO’s Business Incubator, this was the last time it participated in the ranking: starting in 2018, the incubator has reformed into the unified University Entrepreneurship Center.

Summer Startup School SumIT at ITMO's Business Incubator

Of this year’s 1,370 participating programs, 259 programs from 53 countries entered the final round.

Winners were decided in four ranking categories:

  • World Top Business Incubator – Managed by University
  • World Top Business Incubator – Affiliated with University
  • World Top Business Incubator – Collaborating with University
  • World Top Business Accelerator – Linked to University

Here are the world’s top university-managed incubators:

  1. The SETsquared Partnership (United Kingdom) jointly shared with The DMZ (Canada);
  2. PoliHub – Startup District & Incubator (Italy);
  3. University of Toronto Entrepreneurship (Canada);
  4. Incubadora de Alto Impacto del Tecnológico de Monterrey, Campus León, TEC LEAN (Mexico).

ITMO University’s Business Incubator also participated in the first category and was ranked 14th. Since its launch in 2012, it helped develop more than 110 successful projects; the startups’ survival rate after a year was 70%. It also succeeded in attracting investments in the amount of $6 million. In 2016, ITMO’s Business Incubator was named Russia’s top business incubator.

Startup-weekend for female entrepreneurs at ITMO's Business Incubator
Startup-weekend for female entrepreneurs at ITMO's Business Incubator

In late 2017 it was announced that the Business Incubator would undergo a transformation – in its place the university now has the multi-functional Entrepreneurship Center; its primary goal is to train staff and accelerate projects. Every student, scientist, and staff member of an innovative company or a startup can take part in the Center’s events to learn about starting and developing their business and, of course, acquire the necessary skills. The decision to restructure the incubator, explained ITMO’s Rector Vladimir Vasilyev, was made due to the fact that businesses need to leave the confines of the university to fully develop.

In 2017 we made the decision to close the Business Incubator and create in its stead the Entrepreneurship Center, as the university’s first and foremost goal is to train highly-qualified specialists with practical business experience. The spirit of entrepreneurship is inherent to every department, laboratory and research team at ITMO University; it’s not exclusive to the Business Incubator. We will continue helping our students and staff turn their technologies and inventions into commercial products using our acceleration programs, namely the Future Technologies program, which, I am sure, will also be able to top the global rankings in its field,” – said Elena Gavrilova, CEO of ITMO’s Entrepreneurship Center.

Elena Gavrilova
Elena Gavrilova

The core acceleration programs that will continue operating at the Entrepreneurship Center are:

  • Future Technologies, which helps high-tech hardware and software projects create a minimum viable product (MVP), establish a business model, raise funding and enter the market;
  • SumIT, which works in the format of a summer startup school. At SumIT, students learn about the intricacies of entrepreneurship in Russia and the opportunities for entering their product into the Russian market.

Every year, UBI Global carries out the largest regional and global studies of key performance indicators among university-linked business incubators and accelerators. The main prizes go to those who demonstrate the best performance, as well as help develop the ecosystem. The ranking takes into account financial stats, quality of service and the number of successful startups, graduates and residents over a period of 5 years.

Ali Amin, UBI Global’s CEO and co-founder. Credit: youtube.com
Ali Amin, UBI Global’s CEO and co-founder. Credit: youtube.com

Ali Amin, UBI Global’s CEO and co-founder, notes that the company’s goal is to visualize the results achieved by the global business incubator community:

“By highlighting the impact and performance of these programs, we are not only helping incubators and accelerators to become more efficient, but we are also assisting government officials in developing their respective innovation ecosystems. The benchmark and rankings also enable corporations to make informed partnership and investment decisions about the incubation programs and the startups they intend to engage with.”

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