“Polytechnic” Incubator of Science and Technology Park of BNTU: Where Science Becomes Business
A Flavour of the Belarusian Startup Scene
Belarus’ startup scene has changed significantly in the past few years. The ecosystem in the country has been fortunate to be able to skip some development phases, partially modelling itself on more established startup hubs to develop quickly. There were and still are an ongoing number of positive and dynamic developments in the ecosystem, including the emergence of new coworking spaces, startup education programs and an increasing number of startup events. In StartupBlink’s 2019 report of Startup Ecosystem Rankings, Belarus ranked 55th globally. Most successful companies were founded by the engineering elite from Soviet times and are based on innovative ideas that target international markets.
One of the main points in Belarus for growing your company is the first and the largest university technopark in the country, Science and Technology Park which was founded on the base of Belarus National Technical University (BNTU).
What is a university’s research output without its implementation? Just a concept. This is what Polytechnic incubator of Science and Technology Park of BNTU is all about. Polytechnic believes that it is crucial for universities not only to educate and research but also to commercialise scientific projects and make them a part of the national economy and beyond.
As such, Polytechnic provides systematic support for startups and entrepreneurs who delve into science, education, and engineering. Success stories are showing a great impact that this incubator has had for the companies.
High-quality technical support
Polytechnic is a perfect means of fostering innovation. It supports innovative knowledge-based enterprises/companies/start-ups/initiatives and promotes entrepreneurship among students, graduates, and scientists. Their main priority is to create innovative businesses whose business models are connected with the University, science, and production.
Thanks to improved infrastructure, access to knowledge and global contacts, Polytechnic facilitates the development of projects based on modern technologies, preferably in those sectors which are considered to be highly innovative: medicine, resource-saving, and energy-efficient technologies, mechanical engineering technologies, methods for finishing materials processing, etc. The Technopark is engaged in the production of limited-edition products, for example, medical equipment with very stringent requirements for immersible metal for traumatology and orthopaedics. Such requirements are necessary because the products are implanted in the human body.
The interdisciplinarity of Polytechnic projects is a key feature. The departments specializing in high-quality coating technologies are also involved in the development of technological processes for medicine and other fields. For startups that are developing medical devices, Polytechnic specialists advise on medical characteristics while specialists from other sectors suggest technical solutions. Besides, it has a laboratory of rapid prototyping – FABLAB that can create 3D models of the product to present it at exhibitions, to hold a crush test or to take part in project contests.
Systematic services help start-ups to grow
Polytechnic is a place dedicated to people who are starting or planning to start a company as well as for entrepreneurs whose company is already operating on the market, therefore this technopark creates an ecosystem to help a start-up to grow. During this process, Polytechnic provides access to the instruments that can help a team to develop its project and to scale it to the global market. Also, it helps with business planning and project management, with advice on how to look for financing and how to build a successful team. Polytechnic also mentors students in the fields of the stock market, accounting, and judicial services.
BNTU Technopark continues to consult its residents. There are companies that Polytechnic has established together with developers or companies that have co-investors in their creation.
Among residents – internationally renowned innovators
At the moment Polytechnic has 20 residents, each of which has its line of business. The Technopark is also proud of its spin-offs, for example, such companies as Regula, Nomakon that are well-known in Belarus and abroad.
Kirill Levkov was a 4th-year student of energy faculty in the BNTU when he started his project Turbosphere at Technopark in 2011. The Turbosphere is an energy-saving installation for converting the energy of the overpressure of natural gas into electricity. Polytechnic provided the Turbosphere project with the necessary service support: a business plan was developed, a business model formed, necessary marketing and patent research as carried out, the assistance provided in protecting intellectual property, and funding obtained from the GPNI and the Innovation Fund of the Minsk City Executive Committee. Thanks to the Polytechnic marketing department, Turbosphere won the international competition EXPO LIVE in preparation for the world exhibition EXPO 2020 in Dubai and also received a grant that will be used to co-finance the project in Belarus. The Turbosphere project is the only winner from Eastern European countries to outperform more than 600 applications from all over the world submitted to the competition.