ITMO: Innovator’s Navigator Pre-Acceleration Program: The Results

On May 22, ITMO hosted the finals of Open University Skolkovo’s Innovator’s Navigator – a four-day pre-acceleration program in the field of ecology, clean energy sources, and resource recovery. Among its participants were third and fourth year Bachelor’s students, Master’s students, and PhD students specializing in engineering, natural sciences, and economics from all around Russia.

The Innovator’s Navigator is a program for young startups and future leaders of R&D projects certified by the Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises () that will help facilitate the commercialization and implementation of participants’ ideas.

The program took place on-site in St. Petersburg, at ITMO University’s facilities with the help of its Faculty of Energy and Ecotechnology and Faculty of Technological Management and Innovations, and was organized jointly by the , , , and the .

Innovator’s Navigator was supported from and the that’s being implemented as part of the financed by the UN, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Finland.

Over the course of four days, the program’s participants worked on projects in such fields as waste management and resource recovery; alternative energy sources, technologies and systems for energy conversion; energy hubs; hydrogen technologies; sustainable transport; green construction; environmental education projects, and others. They got help from various experts: entrepreneurs and representatives of business and academia. Mentors helped the teams to finalize their products and develop business models for their projects. On the whole, 96 people participated in the course; 11 teams featuring 60 students from St. Petersburg, Moscow, the Moscow Oblast, Tolyatti, Kazan, Perm and Tomsk presented before the expert jury in the finals.

Following the program’s results, three projects were chosen as winners:

1st place – team Algafood with the project “Plant-based protein from microalgae and food products based on it: eggs, milk, cheese, meat”.

The project’s social significance lies with the opportunity to provide people with an affordable, biologically complete, ethical protein and prevent a multitude of diseases caused by imbalanced nutrition. The product can be produced in any region, be it Africa or the Arctic region – one doesn’t need light or soil for that. This will help to also save on logistics.

“The event was organized in a fine manner, and was fun, as well! We came to this program to improve our project, and didn’t even think of winning – which is why this was twice as cool!” comments the project’s head Natalia Kutina.

2nd place – team Aluminum oxide coatings with a technology that offers the opportunity to create highly rigid heat-resisting corrosion-resistant aluminum oxide coatings on steels and various alloys.

The coating’s advantages in comparison to the existing counterparts (chromium coatings are considered to have the closest properties) are a higher adhesion to the base material thanks to the presence of an intermetallic layer, homogeneous thickness, and high microhardness thanks to structural transformations during plasma-chemical oxidation.

“I got the best impressions from the program! We are very pleased with the result – getting second place. We are happy that our project picked the interest of the jury. And we liked how moderators and organizers worked with us – they never left us in trouble and were always ready to offer help and support, answer any questions we had,” says Yulia Mezenina, head of the project.

3rd place – team OceanPlantStroy with the project “Using litter as raw material for building construction and fuel.”

The project has to do with the development of mobile road pavements from recycled waste.

The proposed technology will help oil and construction companies explore remote and hardly accessible territories, place equipment on unstable ground, and can be used for road construction.

“We are happy to get such a high place, especially because of the stage our project is in: we are yet to test our product, but we are on the right track and I believe that we’ll be successful!” comments team OceanPlantStroy’s head Ivan Nikonov.

Based on the results of the Innovator’s Navigator. GreenTech program, all participants got certificates from Open University Skolkovo, and grant recipients of the UMNIK program got additional certificates for completing a FASIE-accredited pre-acceleration program. The winning teams also got commemorative prizes from Open University Skolkovo and ITMO University.

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