The program features two tracks. First, there is the preaccelerator, which is aimed at those students who are only beginning to develop their startup. Then there is the accelerator itself, where PhD students and faculty get to work on fully formed projects.
By design, the preaccelerator is a course that prepares startups for entering the market. It features regular meetings with experts, as well as support from experienced mentors. Here, participants create their first prototype or polish their business model. By the end of the course, startup founders will have shaped their vision of the project, formed an understanding of their audience, and tested the demand.
The accelerator offers the next stage of this process. It’s a practical course meant for those who already have a product, where the emphasis is made on marketing and sales. Here, participants learn to design sales funnels, attract investment, and patent their ideas.
The accelerator offers the following benefits:
- Regular meetings with mentors: here, teams get to discuss their challenges, practice their pitches, and get feedback.
- Expert consultations allow the residents to compensate for their lack of competencies in marketing, finance, project implementation, or team management.
- Workshops and training sessions on various business aspects.
- Networking and PR support: all of the accelerator’s startup founders have a group chat where they look for like-minded people. They also get access to a special chat where they can hire staff or contractors for their projects. The most interesting startups feature on ITMO.NEWS and the university’s social media pages.
Participants of both tracks can also take an online course on entrepreneurship offered by Teachbase. The curriculum features both theoretical foundations and practical tasks. Students learn all about creating a business model and then get to develop it, conduct interviews with potential users, and identify the demand for their product. Best-performing students will receive certificates of completion.
What’s new this year
The new program. Whereas last year, lectures were offered throughout the duration of the program, this year the participants will receive all the basic training at the very beginning. They will learn all about building startups, analyzing users and markets, developing business models, and marketing, quickly advancing to working on their startups.
The hybrid format. This year, the program shifts from a fully online to a more convenient hybrid format. The majority of the teams will attend the classes in person, but there will also be an opportunity to join online.
Accelerator’s experts. This year, the expert lineup features: Maksim Zaikin, the founder of CoVilling.com and StartupVillas.com, an expert at Startup Drive by Gazprom Neft and at St. Petersburg Technopark; Konstantin Khomchenko, the head of marketing at the Open Digital Platform for the Federal Tax Service of Russia, a mentor at the corporate accelerators of Skolkovo, Eldorado, and Sportmaster; Kirill Kovalev, the co-founder of Maria 01, the largest European startup hub and a partner at an early-stage venture foundation; Maksim Makarov, BizDev at the FluentaAI startup and a mentor of industrial startups at Rosatom; Gleb Lopnin, the CEO and founder of online services aba-ava.com, Talent Miner, aroma-service, and algorithm-pro; as well as other investors and experts.
Opportunities for residents
ITMO Accelerator creates a unique environment for startup development by providing:
- Mentorship throughout all stages of development: user analysis, interviews, market and competition analysis, creating a business model, understanding unit economics, developing an MVP, and looking for investors.
- Assistance and guidance in looking for investments. Founders will get to network with investors, as well as receive help in marketing their ideas. At the end of the program, the best projects will be showcased at a Demo Day in front of investors who offer feedback and potential collaboration opportunities.
- An easier access to venture foundations and corporations. Among the accelerator’s partners are Insta Ventures, 8 Stones Ventures, New Industry, Yandex Cloud Boost, Kaspersky Product Studio, iHarvest, Helix, Uralchem Innovation, Х5 Retail Group, Vkusvill, Sberbank’s startup ecosystem, and IFCM Group.
- Feedback from marketing and sales experts. This opportunity is made possible thanks to expert consultations, to which the accelerator invites practitioners who assist startup teams with related issues.
Some of the products developed by the accelerator’s winter batch of teams are already entering the market – for instance, a special fish stock cube with collagen and vitamin D or protein-enriched seafood snacks. These teams boosted their competencies at the accelerator, then joined the business incubator Agama RUN and became one of the best performers there. Agama RUN helps products land on the market, which means both products are now in the pilot sales stage. All of this became possible thanks to the collaboration between ITMO’s Technopark and the Infochemistry Scientific Center.
Another successful example is SPAWN, the project that won ITMO’s foodtech accelerator. This project uses special fungi to transform cellulose-containing waste into new products. The startup’s creators have already secured a grant for a patent and were among the finalists in a national contest of socially-relevant projects.
Top Projects of ITMO’s First FoodTech Accelerator
How to join
You can apply with a project from almost any field: AI, cybersecurity, AR/VR, fintech, voice assistants, robotics, healthcare, education, foodtech, biotech, and others.
ITMO Accelerator is open for anyone, but ITMO staff and students get to enjoy the program for free. You can apply to join the project here throughout the year.