Online Start-Ups For Sustainable Development Were Presented at International Autumn School on Business

The participants presented their creative ideas for their own startups. Photo: UrFU Archive.

The XII international autumn school ‘Sustainable Business Development: Smart future for All’ carried out by the Graduate School of Economics and Management of UrFU, developed by the project team of the educational program International economics and business, has ended.

For two weeks, foreign participants from international business schools and students of the World economy and international business program practiced business development in accordance with the 17 UN sustainable development goals during interactive lectures, trainings and virtual corporate visits to the largest international and Russian companies in the region.

“The school was attended by students of 17 nationalities: Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, great Britain, Croatia, China and other countries. For the first time, an international educational program was held in an online format. The unique content of the program allows us to transform annually the ambassadors of responsible business, the University and the Urals as a whole. The analytical component makes it possible to introduce final startups in the real sector of the economy, ” said Zhanna Belyaeva, Academic director of the project, head of the educational program “World Economy and International Business”.

Participants virtually visited Coca-Cola HBC plants in Russia and saw how different types of beverages are produced in a live broadcast format. Students developed programs on environmental and technological modernization of the enterprise to solve environmental problems of the regions.

After visiting the Yekaterinburg plant of Unilever remotely, students got acquainted with the production of world-famous consumer goods, learned how the plant was modernized. Together with Irina Antyushina, head of the Department for sustainable development and corporate relations of Unilever in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, the school participants reviewed cases related to the company’s sustainable development strategy, practiced methods for involving customers in waste separation activities, and covered certain topics of sustainable development.

Aisha Agekyan, manager of the Mega shopping center in Yekaterinburg, spoke about the specifics of the shopping center’s operational activities and the strategy of sustainable development during the master class. Students got acquainted with the shopping center, which has become a special meeting space, a place that sets trends, including social and environmental ones, and forms a new culture.

Together with representatives of the Ural Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the participants developed new digital solutions for the banking industry.

Experts of the audit and consulting company Deloitte (CIS countries) told how the monitoring and evaluation of the impact of projects in the field of sustainable development is carried out. Students saw in practice how the theory of change works and learned how to evaluate impact investments.

Both Russian and foreign participants virtually visited the yeltsin center, together with representatives of the museum of the first president of russia b. n. yeltsin passed an online quest, learning many unknown and unexpected facts about the history of the country, and also took part in a game of association and imagination about the sustainable development goals.

“All the lectures were inspiring and stimulating, I liked the group work and creative activities. It’s amazing to feel this sense of team even through the screen, ” said Francesco fenzi, a participant from Italy.

Dolores Sanchez Bengoa, Vice President of the University of Applied Management Studies in Mannheim (Germany), told the school participants about effective cross-cultural communication. An intensive content session on digital sustainable business models led by Zhanna Belyaeva, Academic Director of the School of Management and Interdisciplinary Studies at INEU, and a project session from Ekaterina Demchenko, Director of the Center for International Cooperation, allowed students to set the framework for their final projects.

Professor of the Department of management of the University of Turin (Italy), researcher at InEU Urfu Alberto Ferraris gave a lecture on open innovations in international business and spoke about the creation of a startup. Vitaly Nedelsky, founder of the Russian Association of robotics and industrial Internet, founder and development Director of Semantic Hub, gave an interactive lecture on implementing changes in a world of growing complexity. Dmitry Zakarlyukin, eco-activist, social entrepreneur, Creator of Veshevorot, Ecotaxi and other projects, with the support of Sberbank, shared his experience in organizing ESG projects and gave practical advice to participants.

“All the lectures were interesting and exciting. I liked how the teachers know how to interact with us in a virtual way. I was definitely not bored, ” said Aicha Boira (Morocco, Italy).

Five international teams successfully presented their creative startups aimed at sustainable transformation of the world. Participants “pitched” the ideas of social and environmental startups, presenting a vision through the sustainable development goals, business model, business plan and communication strategy with key stakeholders. Some teams presented working prototypes of applications.

The professional jury included corporate partners-project Manager of the retail business Department of UBRiR Maria Grigorieva, sustainable development Manager of Coca-Cola HBC Russia Alexander Gorbachev, lecturers and Tutors of the school from Russia, Italy, Germany and Cyprus. The corporate and academic jury noted the high level of the submitted works and expressed their readiness to contribute to the practical implementation. The teams received the following nominations: “Startup of the year”, “Global economic startup”, “Best eco-friendly startup”, “most creative idea”, “Best social startup”. Some startups are recommended for implementation with supervising corporate partners.

All participants received certificates with five credits, as well as a wealth of useful knowledge, a lot of virtual experiences and useful contacts.

“I would like to thank the people behind the scenes. I have never attended a course that was so well organized. There were no delays or misunderstandings. Also, from a technical point of view, everything is just perfect. Thank you to everyone who made this possible, ” said Lars Scheffner, a participant from Germany.

Project activities of international economists are a mandatory part of the implementation of the educational program “World economy and international business”, while much attention is paid to the development of sustainable mindset. The program office is actively engaged in InEU sustainable development projects, involving students in their implementation.

Ural Federal University is one of the Russian leading universities, ‘5-100 Project’ participant, located in Ekaterinburg — the capital of 2023 FISU World University Games. Ural Federal has initiated the creation of Ural Interregional Research and Education Center (UIREC), aimed at successful completion of National Project ‘Science’ tasks.

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