Three students teams from the University of Gdansk had the opportunity to take part in the international university startup competition STup!2022 in Croatia, which took place in the second half of June. The event was organized by one of the SEA-EU's partner universities, the University of Split. 42 teams entered the competition, representing 21 universities from 16 countries worldwide.
The University of Gdansk was represented by 3 teams:
"Study Buddy" with Kamil Schlagowski, Jakub Możejko, Kamil Plewka (Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Informatics) and Kacper Budniak (Faculty of Management and Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Informatics). The team presented the Study Buddy!, a platform for student support and collaboration in mastering material. The aim of the project is to counteract too many students dropping out during their first year of study.
"BEELEA" by Michalina Biedrzycka (Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology UG&MUG). In the start-up she is attempting to produce cosmetics from the European bladdernut (Staphylea pinnata), which is under protection in Poland. The first studies on the lipid composition of the seeds were successful. Further plans include the reintroduction of the plant into the environment and the start of production.
"Barter" under the leadership of Kanstantsin Suvorau and Marcin Zydek (Faculty of Languages). The team presented a website and a mobile app that connects all online and brick-and-mortar rental stores to create the most extensive catalogue of rental goods. Thanks to Barter, it is possible to find every item you need nearby, plus earn money from renting items you do not use every day.
The students' preparations for the finals had been going on since April and were organised by Joanna Próchniak, PhD from the Faculty of Management and Mrs. Izabela Disterheft from the Office for Liaison with Business and Community. The training sessions included consultations with experts such as Błażej Lepczyński, PhD, responsible for an introduction to the specifics of Venture Capital funds' operations and expectations, and Sebastian Susmarski, PhD. Moreover, Joanna Próchniak, PhD and Mrs. Izabela Disterheft conducted a series of training sessions, including creating a pitch deck, performing on stage with a time limit and answering questions from the competition jury. The SEA-EU Office oversaw the coordination of all activities.
Mrs. Izabela Disterheft on working with students: "Preparing student teams to present an idea or solution on an international stage is a process that requires a lot of commitment. There is time for creation, the work of building the next presentation slides with a clear structure, and also time for developing a narrative. Then comes the practical work: that is, rehearsing the speech itself. Personally, I always have the great pleasure of supporting students who show a lot of determination, who are ambitious, open-minded and courageous. By the way - they are a source of inspiration and knowledge for me."
After intensive preparations, it was time for the final of the competition in Split. During the first day of the event, people saw presentations from all competitors divided into groups according to the thematic areas of the startups. The teams had five minutes to pitch their business idea and an additional five minutes for answering questions from the jury. In addition to the competition part of the programme, there was a "Universities & Innovation" panel and lectures by experts from the business world. After lengthy deliberations, the jury selected 10 teams for the final, including Barter, which eventually won second prize.
“Participation in this competition is already a good opportunity to appear on the international stage. We came back from Croatia with loads of thoughts, ideas and motivation to further develop our startup. We gained valuable contacts and experience talking to experts, investors and other entrepreneurs. We believe that this trip is 100% worth the time and commitment. We would like to thank the University of Gdansk and the European University of the Seas SEA-EU for the opportunity to participate in this great event," concludes Kanstantsin Suvorau, leader of the winning Barter team.
When we returned to Gdańsk, a meeting was organised to summarise the competition. It was attended by the students representing UG, the Rector of the University of Gdańsk, Prof. Piotr Stepnowski, Vice-Rector for Student Affairs and Education Quality, Prof. Arnold Kłonczyński, Sebastian Susmarski, PhD , Mrs. Izabela Disterheft from the Office for Liaison with Business and Community and Ms. Natalia Lubińska from the SEA-EU Office.
The success was possible due to the commitment, determination and hard work of the students, which is praiseworthy as the preparations took place during a busy period, i.e. at the end of the semester and during the examination session. The students also demonstrated extraordinary mutual kindness, supported each other and cheered each other on until the very end. Such attitude makes me feel very satisfied as a university teacher," comments Joanna Próchniak, PhD.
We keep our fingers crossed for the further success of the most enterprising students at UG!