A series of business games called “Build a Company. Sell the Company” was put up in TSU this spring. The grand finale of the game took place on May 14, and the jury made up of representatives of the TechnoSpark companies have recently defined the winners who are going to receive an opportunity to launch their own tech startup in that company. There have not been such projects at a scale of the Russian Federation before.
Denis Kovalevich, Director General of TechnoSpark, evaluated the results of the game and pointed out that the final short-listed eight people. Three students did not get to the interview due to formal reasons–they are in their first years of studies. Of the five participants who passed the interview, four are going to try their hand at building business startups in September.
They are Maria Berdnikova, a third-year student of a bachelor’s program at the Biology Institute; Konstantin Nekrasov, a third-year student of a bachelor’s program at the Geology and Geography Department; Elizaveta Samoylova, a first-year student of a master’s program at the Geology and Geography Department, and Vadim Timoshenko who is completing the fourth year of his studies at the Foreign Languages Department.
“Another student decided to complete the fourth year of his bachelor’s degree program first, and after that go on to TechnoSpark to enrol for the “adult program” called “Business Debut”. In total, of about four thousand students of TSU who are studying the basics of specialities that may be practised at our facilities, we chose only four people,” emphasises Denis Kovalevich. “It is a standard percentage for Russia that includes those who can both understand the processes in technological entrepreneurship and make first steps in this direction.
The nine-month apprenticeship is supposed to be held in the nano-tech center of TechnoSpark in Troitsk, Moscow Region. The students are going to try to launch a startup in one of the hardware industries of the future: robotics, photovoltaics, genomics, personalized medicine, new materials, pilotless transport, etc. They are going to be paid salaries of 20 thousand rubles a month to cover their personal costs; they will enjoy free-of-charge accommodation and transportation to and from their place of apprenticeship.”
“I’m going to stay in Troitsk from September to May,” Elizaveta Samoylova, one of the game winners, says. “I will only be coming to Tomsk during the session time to pass assessments and exams. I will also have to combine it all with preparation for the graduation paper defense. Of course, there will be less free time, but I will stick to the rule that goes “Nothing is impossible.” The main experience will likely be the opportunity to get to know more about the corporate spirit that fills modern companies and get an understanding of what to do further. I decided to take part in the business game because I’ve already thought of what I may be doing after I graduate. I was thinking of starting my own business, that is why I really liked the game and learned a lot from it.”
For the record, in the course of ten hours of the business game its participants got a first-hand experience of different modes of the technological market – they went through the whole way from a single engineer or member of an engineering group to an entrepreneur who made it to the market. In conclusion, the participants had to sell their company to an investor and earn from it using the game currency.
“As a result of two qualification rounds, the final invited 43 people. Besides, following an agreement with our partners from TechnoSpark, we provided whoever wanted to participate with a chance to get to the first two games. All in all, there were 67 entries, which means most players happened to be among those who made it to the final stage,” notes Ivan Kamaev, Director of the Center of Entrepreneurship of the Institute of Economics and Management at TSU.
The conditions in the final were more complicated. This way, as organizers say, every game becomes a unique experience for the participants rather than a repetition of what has been learned earlier: they create new companies, cooperate with new partners, make new decisions. As far as the criteria of how the best players were selected, the game committee looked, first of all, at those who earned most of the game currency. It is a basic and most objective factor because the profits were calculated automatically. However, there were also other criteria of selection.
“Our partners were very attentively following the game and saw how the students behaved and demonstrated themselves throughout the ten hours of the game. In the final part, there was an opportunity to compare the experience of the participants based on the first and second games. That is why there are a number of subjective factors defining the selection, which are based on that expertise that were used by the TechnoSpark specialists towards the students,” clarifies Ivan Kamaev.
During the next academic year, the business games of “Build a Company. Sell the Company” will continue. The games are likely to be played not only by the students of TSU but other higher education schools as well.