Training for Innovation-Driven Entrepreneurship in the Balkans - Balkan TIDE Training for Innovation-Driven Entrepreneurship in the Balkans (Balkan TIDE) Problem Statement: There is a young, vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem developing in the Balkans. To date, the small businesses arising from this ecosystem have been largely service-based. However, a recent European Commission Communication on An Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans concluded that there is a significant opportunity for entrepreneurs in the Balkans to make contributions to the digital and green economies. However, success in these areas rests on the regions ability to build its human and entrepreneurial capacity to innovate while promoting social cohesion and economic participation for all members of society. Proposed Approach: Our proposal aims to directly address these needs by helping to establish an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem for science, technology, and innovation (STI) in the Balkans, by drawing inspiration from the successful NSF I-Corps program in the US. The I-Corps program in the US, based on Steve Blanks Lean Startup curriculum, has helped establish an entrepreneurial ecosystem in academia for facilitating the transfer of STI from academic labs to the market for the benefit of society. Arizona State University has led a NSF I-Corps training site since 2016 and extended this curriculum internationally in several other projects. We propose to do the same here in collaboration with our main partners in the region, Innovation Centre Kosovo (ICK; a GIST Innovation Hub) and the technology transfer office at the University of Prishtina (VentureUP). After co-developing the curriculum, we will recruit a set of diverse teams from Kosovo, Serbia, North Macedonia, and Bosnia and offer the Lean Startup training with an experiential Customer Discovery component to two cohorts, one during the Summer of 2023 and one during the Summer of 2024. The culminating experience for each cohort is participation at ASUs Venture Devils Demo Day, a biannual showcase for ASU-affiliated ventures that will provide opportunities for meaningful interaction between the entrepreneurs and US-based investors and companies. Outcomes and Impact: The broader aims of this project are: 1) the reinforcement of American and scientific values in the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Balkans and 2) amplification of the impact of science and technology innovation in the Balkans through entrepreneurship training and connections in the US. To that end, we will track several output and outcome indicators at a quarterly interval. Output indicators include the number of teams trained, the diversity of their composition (in terms of gender and ethnicity), the number of hours of training provided, and the number of opportunities for interaction between entrepreneurs and US-based investors and companies. Outcome indicators include mastery of the Lean Startup curriculum and changes in the future plans of the companies following the training. A target for each indicator and a detailed plan for tracking progress are detailed in the proposal.
|Effective start/end date||9/30/22 → 3/31/25|
- US Department of State (DOS): $493,676.20
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