Blackstone LaunchPad at Trinity visits Estonia

In May 2017 Blackstone LaunchPad from Trinity visited Tallin, Estonia as part of a European project funded by EIT KIC Raw Materials. Well aware of the positive reputation of Estonia in the global startup community  we visited Technical University of Tallin (TTU) and  a startup summit known as Latitude59 (59 degrees N being the latitude of Tallin).

At TTU we participated in a workshop at  Mektory is the University's showcase innovation and entrepreneurship space  in a refurbished building opened just two years ago. MEKTORY is an acronym for "Modern Estonian Knowledge Transfer Organisation for You": But the association with dubious academic acronyms ends there.

MEKTORY is of interest because of its funding model and its method of engaging with student startups and the wider startup ecosystem within Estonia. It was the brainchild ofthen  the Vice-Rector of TTÜ Ms Tea Varrak. Since founding MEKTORY Tea is  now Secretary General of Ministry of Education and Research in the Estonian government. 

MEKTORY's success provides a useful case study for  the development of the new Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub within  Trinity College. The main takeaways are:

  1. Funded not only from the expected sources  (i.e. the university itself  and  the Estonian government): But has secured  sponsorship from industry and foreign government embassies 
  2. Extensive engagement with primary and second level students
  3. Existence of a nationwide knowledge transfer organisation known as Adapter . This serves as a one stop shop for industry when it wishes to secure technologies or services from any Estonian University. Adapter is the Estonian equivalent of Knowledge Transfer Ireland and guarantees a response from a University within 10 working days .

The images below illustrate the practical implementation of the above:

Meeting room in MEKTORY TTU with an obvious sponsor

Meeting room in MEKTORY TTU with an obvious sponsor

Another telecoms company sponsors a training room.

Another telecoms company sponsors a training room.

The local  energy utility Unitas sponsors an interactive  in order that engineering students of all ages can understand key principles.

The local  energy utility Unitas sponsors an interactive  in order that engineering students of all ages can understand key principles.

Well equipped video studio onsite is a very useful addition for startups and innovators

Well equipped video studio onsite is a very useful addition for startups and innovators

Nice idea on the stairway  to promote healthy exercise for the entrepreneurs

Nice idea on the stairway  to promote healthy exercise for the entrepreneurs

The local electricity utility sponsors an interactive training room with an electrical engineering theme

The local electricity utility sponsors an interactive training room with an electrical engineering theme

The UK government is one of the many embassies  sponsoring the space. Other rooms are supported and named   for the US  and Finnish Government agencies who wish to be associated with the Estonian university innovation system. The Finnish space features a sauna and plunge pool (naturally).

The UK government is one of the many embassies  sponsoring the space. Other rooms are supported and named   for the US  and Finnish Government agencies who wish to be associated with the Estonian university innovation system. The Finnish space features a sauna and plunge pool (naturally).

Visitors sign the wall  and mark their home location. Mektory at TTU had over 200,000 visitors last year.

Visitors sign the wall  and mark their home location. Mektory at TTU had over 200,000 visitors last year.

Engagement with younger entrepreneurs  from primary and secondary schools is a major focus of the MEKTORY organisation.

Engagement with younger entrepreneurs  from primary and secondary schools is a major focus of the MEKTORY organisation.

The sponsor wall shows all the supporters the MEKTORY centre. The following day Blackstone Launchpad visited the startup conference www.latitude59.ee . In summary similar to any startup event in Europe. As expected government supports and university spin outs were to the fore. 

The sponsor wall shows all the supporters the MEKTORY centre.

The following day Blackstone Launchpad visited the startup conference www.latitude59.ee . In summary similar to any startup event in Europe. As expected government supports and university spin outs were to the fore.