The TEMPUS Entrepreneur Alumni NETwork (EANET) project is a project funded under the European Commission’s Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). The Grant Agreement (544521-TEMPUS-1-2013-1-DE-TEMPUS-SMHES) signed between the Grant holder, Hogeschool van Amsterdam (HVA), HVA being the Coordinator of the project and the EACEA on 28-4-2014. The project duration is envisaged for 3 years, it can be prolonged until all the objectives of the project are reached.
The project is focused on creating of a working international entrepreneurial ecosystem of entrepreneur alumni, young founders, so that universities, companies and more students, graduates and HEI staff would be able to get in contact with the entrepreneurial world. New start-ups will arise.
Wider objective of the EANET project is to establish Entrepreneur Alumni Networks (EAN) at 11 HEIs in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia which support the entrepreneurial spirit among students, scientists and alumni and raise an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine
Specific project objectives are
- to create entrepreneurship-related associations at HEIs
- to create international entrepreneurial networks of universities, experts, external cooperation partners, companies and entrepreneurs
- to reduce graduates’ unemployment by supporting young founders and create international jobs and internships in start-ups
- to promote active alumni work and act as role models for other alumni associations
- to create fundraising structures (each participating HEI should be financially independent at the end of EANET funding)
Principal outputs of the project are nine “Entrepreneur Alumni Network Associations” set up by each HEI following individual tailor-made implementation concepts for each HEI. Based on an EA database each association will fill its structure with life acquiring members by offering attractive services and incentives, organising regular networking events and offering an EANET prize to especially active members. Highlight events and social networking media serve the purpose to link EA, business sector and university and to internationally connect the regional EAN associations. To guarantee the know-how transfer and improve the project quality especially designed blended learning trainings will take place in Germany and the Netherlands. Being a relatively new EU member country, Iasi, the Romanian partner, additionally builds up a bridge between Western Europe and the partner countries Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova.
The structural measure realized by EANET is comparatively easy to sustain due to the lean organizational structures and the key role of entrepreneurial Alumni making contacts to industry and government opening up new sources of funding.
Call objectives and EANET objectives
The overall objective of the programme is to support the modernisation of higher education in the EU’s surrounding area. The Tempus programme promotes institutional cooperation and focuses on the reform and modernisation of higher education systems in the Partner Countries.
The project is focused on creating a functional, cross-border, entrepreneurial ecosystem of entrepreneur alumni, so that universities, companies and more students, graduates and Higher Education Institutes (HEI) staff will be able to get in contact with the entrepreneurial world.
The wider objective of the EANET-project is to establish Entrepreneur Alumni Networks (EAN’s) at 11 HEI’s in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia which support the entrepreneurial spirit among students, scientists and alumni and raise an entrepreneurial ecosystem in and between Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
The 5 specific project objectives are:
- To create entrepreneurship-related associations at Higher Education Institutes (HEI’s);
- To create international entrepreneurial networks of universities, experts, external cooperation partners, companies and entrepreneurs;
- To reduce graduates’ unemployment by supporting young founders and create international jobs and internships;
- To promote the Entrepreneur Alumni Network (EAN) so it will be regarded as role model for other alumni associations;
- To create fundraising structures (each participating HEI should be financially independent at the end of EANET funding).
To create entrepreneurship-related associations at HEI’s.
Result of the project: alumni networks have been established in each of the HEI’s in the project, and several events (see Table of Achievement – WP5) have been organized for their members.
Methodology of creation and functioning of an association of alumni entrepreneurs has developed.
To create international entrepreneurial networks of universities, experts, external cooperation partners, companies and entrepreneurs.
Result of the project: the universities have established collaborations, which have resulted in
- A bilateral agreement between the university of Tbilisi (P12 Ilia State University, Business school) and P05 Kharkiv (Karazin Kharkiv National University business school);
- P08 KROK UA in Kiev/Ukraine and P09 ASEM Alumni Association in Chisinau/Moldova signed a Memorandum of Partnership;
- A joint agenda for various events has been presented (see WP7) between the Ukrainian partners;
- P08 KROK organized more than 30 trainings, 4 excursions to companies and 10 workshops and interviewed over 150 alumni to gain input and insight in the alumni EAN needs;
- A successful alumni entrepreneur Giorgi Kuntuadze from P12 Ilia State University and co-founder of Giffer (com.ua) started an affiliation in Ukraine with the help of P08 KROK University (see newsletter 48, page 8);
- In January 2016, P13 Georgian Technical University, introduced the organisation Georgian Technical University Alumni Reunion (GEAR, http://gear.gtu.ge/ka/) aimed to promote international collaboration between start-ups and SME’s;
- A visit from Sergiu Tutunaru, Director of IT-Incubator IT4BA (P09 ASEM university Chisinau/Moldova) to P08 KROK University (Kiev/Ukraine);
- During the IHE in Tblisi (May 2017) the contact between “Startup Ukraine”, a company founded by Anna Petrova, an alumna from P08 KROK University and CEO Alexander Machedon, was established. Machedon is an alumnus from P09 ASEM and founder of Starnet, a leading ICT company in Moldova who funds educational programmes for students and children (See Newsletter 50: page 3)
- To reduce graduates’ unemployment by supporting young founders and create international jobs and internships.
Result of the project: connections with start-ups and other businesses have been made and resulted in jobs and internships.
As an example, and within the framework of the EANET-project following the meetings with the representatives of the leading educational institutions of the country, contracts were concluded with the Qingdao State University and the Harbin Engineering University, which will allow universities not only to cooperate in the scientific and educational fields, but also to exchange students, graduate students and research workers.
Agreements were extended on organizing mutual internships, programmes and research projects, scientific forums, developing start-ups, seminars, publications and participation in the implementation of state programmes and projects of Ukraine and China.
- To promote the Entrepreneur Alumni Network (EAN) so it will be regarded as role model for other alumni associations.
Result of the project: in the workshops and meetings, alumni were able to explain their experiences to the audience and inspire others to consider an entrepreneurial career. In the newsletters and project films, the enthusiasm of these presented role models can be found.
As an example, the Kharkiv IT cluster organized titled: Techno Trends Meetup and Kharkiv IT Unicorns, that took place in the Simon Kuznets Kharkiv National University of Economics. The events were dedicated to technical issues of start-up realization.
During activities and events organised by the alumni associations, as well as in several newsletters (section ‘entrepreneur in the spotlight’) and the 4 films, it is explained how the alumni associations are built (start-up business model) and how to do member acquisition (customer-oriented). Successful alumni entrepreneurs of all the partner universities lectured at events about how they built their company and they underlined the importance of an (international) alumni network. They are announced in the programme booklet of the events.
- To create fundraising structures (each participating HEI should be financially independent at the end of EANET funding).
Result of the project: There are 9 “Entrepreneur Alumni Network Associations”, set up by each HEI, following individual tailor-made implementations for each. All partners made their sustainability concepts and plans and started the implementation (see WP7). Based on an Entrepreneur Alumni database, each association has built a self-sustaining structure for the acquisition of members for life. They do this by offering attractive services and incentives, organizing regular networking events and offering incentives to active members.
Highlight events and social networking media, serve the purpose of connecting alumni entrepreneurs with each other, the broader business sector, the university, and to the international network of the various EAN associations.
To optimize the knowledge- and experience-transfer and in order to improve the project’s quality, specially designed ‘blended’ learning trainings have taken place in Germany and the Netherlands. Iasi, the Romanian partner, functions as a bridge between Western Europe and the partner countries Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, by translating between the project participants and helping to understand cultural differences between partner countries.
The outcome of the EANET-project is comparatively easy to sustain, thanks to the lean organizational structures and the key role of entrepreneurial alumni making contacts to industry. Each HEI is trained and has the committed capacity to address the sustainability of its network. Each HEI has made Sustainability concepts for its EAN, their own fundraising structure, has assigned start-up consulting services and most have assigned ambassadors
Dissemination and Sustainability
During the project, intensive relationships have been built between the participants in the project. A Memorandum of Cooperation in the field of education and implementation of start-up projects, was signed between the participants of the EANET-project from Ukraine (P07 KHNADU, P06 KNURE, P05 KHNU, P08 University KROK, P04 CHNU). Also, local and state authorities (Kharkiv City Council and the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine), as well as other Kharkiv universities (National Technical University “Kharkiv Polytechnic Institute” and Kharkiv National Economic University) signed the Memorandum. The consortium partners foresee that other arrangements will be made in the future (please also see section: ‘Unexpected outcomes/ spin-off effects’).
The EANET participants put lots of effort in developing realistic concepts, plans and financial funding, to continue the EAN’s in the post-project period. Today, each EAN has its own organization, staff has been committed to each network organization in order to secure future activities and events, members of the EAN’s have committed to the funding of the network and, where possible, synergies between EAN’s have led to further cooperation between EAN organizations.
In future, the results of the project will be used in the following ways:
- to use the experience and lessons learned in other projects and training programmes;
- to find other opportunities and projects to find further cooperation between EANET-project partners;
- to exploit relationships for the exchange of knowledge (training, workshops; EAN related and more);
- to exploit the possibilities of the entrepreneurial alumni databases present for future research.
The partners have adopted the need to build a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem by connecting the various stakeholders in their regions. Start-up and entrepreneurship events have been organised and very well received by the participants and visitors (students and alumni) and are expected to continue (see newsletters and WP5 for details, and WP8 for the evaluation of these events).