Connecting Universities-Industry through Smart Entrepreneurial Cooperation and Competitive Intelligence of Students in Moldova, Georgia and Armenia

The Sofia Final Competition: Why it was important for the project and the participants, and what type of experiences were generated.

The Sofia Final was critical for both the Connect Project partners and the competing participants coming out from the CIP processes of the Academic Institutions from Georgia, Moldova, and Armenia because it formalized, in the best way possible, the outcome of converged efforts from all engaged parties who worked together during the 3-year period of the Erasmus + program. The contestants who were also the Finalists of their National Competitions were given the opportunity to present their project before the expert jury, exposing them to the challenge of receiving criticism in front of an audience and outside their comfort zone for the first time. On the other hand, being able to answer the judges’ questions demonstrated the extensive preparation they had done prior to their pitching. Additionally, the total interaction was important for all the professors and mentors who contributed to the contestants’ plan and aspirations, by receiving a benchmark as well for startup readiness to be used in future projects.

Competition Highlights

On Tuesday, 19/12/2023 morning the participants arrived at Campus X, a coworking space/incubator in the southeast suburbs of Sofia city. The first keynote speaker, Eva Vucheva serial entrepreneur, and founder of Contento.Tech, spoke about her experiences sharing personal stories as well as advice. Eva also serves on the advisory board of Endeavor Bulgaria and actively supports digital products and services across the CEE region making her an ideal mentor to provide feedback The second keynote speaker was Kiril Genov, a technology entrepreneur and consultant in the field of artificial intelligence and data science. Kiril who also serves as the CEO and co-founder of Worddio shared both Worddio story as well as a demo on the Langlevel app. Following the two speakers, a presentation of how to build a Unicorn Factory and a tour of the Campus X premises were conducted by Svetlozar Dimitrov, Community Manager, who provided insights of the Bulgarian startup scene and how the Campus X idea was conceived.

On the second day, Wednesday, 20/12/2023, an overview of the pitching contest was given by Argyrios Spyridis and Adriane Thrash from Anthology Management, explaining the time and overall rules as well as a brief introduction of the jury. The Members of the Jury were Mila Petrova, an Entrepreneur currently serving as CEO of TeamUp Services, a member of Angels Club and mentor with Founders Institute, Yarov Gotchev Investment Manager at Innovation Capital, a pre-seed Venture Capital fund managing EUR 21M that is supporting Bulgarian startups and Leonid Chechurin, Professor of Industrial Management at LUT University (Finland) and outstanding industrial experience as a principal engineer and consultant for engineering design in leading innovative companies such as Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, General Electric Global Research Center , Wrigley (USA), British American Tobacco (UK-USA), FMC (USA) and also an expert in technology innovation and reengineering.

Full report: Connect Final Competition Bulgaria Report