"We teach them to be entrepreneurs, give HUF 3 million in scholarships to teams of students to develop their ideas, and the best ones will be able to pitch to potential investors today. Our goal is to have at least 8 Hungarian-owned unicorns by 2030, i.e. companies worth more than USD 1 billion,” said László György, State Secretary for Innovation, Higher Education, Vocational Training and Enterprise Development of the Ministry of Culture and Innovation, on the occasion of Demo Day.
Cricket flour rich in iron, fibre and essential amino acids, a smart remote medication dispenser, a reward system mobile app for schools and teachers to effectively motivate students, a next-gen crop management system, mainly for arable crops, and a pipe network and well monitoring robot. Just a few of the 20 projects that experts judged to be the most promising ideas at the end of the second academic year of the HSUP programme. These are the Hungarian university ideas that can conquer the world markets and grow into the Hungarian unicorns of the decade. The Hungarian Startup University Programme (HSUP) Demo Day event in Kápolnásnyék, Hungary, is a side event of the EFOTT festival, where project teams will be presented.
Hungary’s first higher education startup programme was launched in 2020 at 21 universities, at the initiative of the National Research, Development and Innovation (NRDI) Office. After the pilot year, the first live academic year continued with the expert support of the Express Innovation Agency, an agency of the NRDI Office.
The main objective of HSUP is to introduce Hungarian students to the world of innovation, modern entrepreneurship and start-ups, through a new common e-learning platform. After learning about innovative thinking and the startup world in the first semester, students take an exam at the end of the semester and present their business idea in a onepager which will be evaluated and selected for the second round by a panel of innovation experts from each university. In the second semester, students acquire practical knowledge of enterprise building and join winning projects in teams of 3-5 people, with the help of mentors, to implement their ideas. Students working in the project team receive a grant of HUF 150,000 per month per student at this stage.
In the first pilot year of the practice-oriented startup programme, teams worked on more than 100 innovative ideas at 21 universities nationwide, in the current academic year (2021/2022) almost double that, 189 project ideas were selected and 6 more universities and one NGO from abroad joined the programme. The success of HSUP is demonstrated by the fact that 6000 students have participated in the two academic years so far. The students’ work was supported and supervised by mentors, and recently a panel of experts from HSUP partners selected the twenty most investment- and incubation-ready projects, based on the progress reports and presentation videos submitted by the teams . The selection criteria included the projects’ level of maturity, novelty and market relevance. The teams had the opportunity to present their projects to investors and experts from the Hungarian startup ecosystem.
“The success of the programme at home and abroad speaks for itself, as the satisfaction of this year’s participants is outstanding, despite the doubling of the number of participants! Nevertheless, as with a good startup, we are constantly collecting feedback and identifying areas where we can make the programme even better and we are working to continuously improve and update the curriculum and the support system. It is particularly heart-warming to meet more and more young people every year who, before the programme, had no idea about the world of innovation or start-ups and are now thinking about changing the world. The previous academic year’s students have already made their mark in international markets and many of them have already raised investment in several rounds. For this year’s graduates, the journey is just beginning, but Express Innovation Agency will continue to support them on the road ahead,” added Krisztián Kölkedi, Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Strategy of Express Innovation Agency, one of the founders of the HSUP programme.
During the Demo Day, the teams will present their innovative ideas in pitches to a 9-member professional jury, including startup experts, corporate leaders and investors such as angel investor Péter Balogh, Balázs Hendrich, Director of the Career and Professional Development Centre of Mathias Corvinus Collegium, and Dr. Péter Oszkó, Head of OXO Technologies Holding Nyrt. Following the pitches, the jury will make an offer to the teams, offering professional advice or even substantial capital investment to help the ideas become a reality.
After the Demo Day, Express Innovation Agency will also be present at EFOTT with a unique installation and exciting activities to introduce young people to HSUP’s visionary professional programme to encourage youth innovation and further support opportunities.
Source: Express Innovation Agency