Sikorsky Challenge Startup Schools Network

Startup School is the first step of knowledge and skills, it is an environment in which creative young people gain not only theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the field of creating innovative technological startups, but also the conditions for the implementation of their ideas. The way to create a startup is different from a standard career. Here you become responsible for everything you do.


The first Startup School "Sikorsky Challenge" was opened at Sikorsky KPI.  in February 2014. By 2022, 

22 startup schools in Ukraine have joined it, and today the Sikorsky Challenge startup network is one of the main components of the Sikorsky Challenge Ukraine Innovation Ecosystem.




A startup school at any university can be a separate unit with the appropriate infrastructure and other resources or can be developed as a project of an existing structural unit of the university.


The operation of the Startup School begins with the selection and organization of a team of managers, trainers, and mentors trained according to the teaching techniques of SCU. For this purpose, trainers of the KPI Startup School are involved where these teaching techniques have been developed and are constantly being improved to fit the times and needs.


The next step is the recruitment/selection of trainees and the formation of training groups (20-25 people each). Usually, during a year, each Startup school launches 2-3 groups for training and incubation/acceleration.


According to SCU teaching techniques, the training of startup school students consists of four stages.


1st stage (1.5 to 2 months). Training under the program "Innovative entrepreneurship and practice of launching startup":

  • takes place in groups in person and/or online;
  • is conducted by trainers of the Startup School KPI and local University.

The first stage ends with picking projects that have the prospect of commercialization and the formation of teams of selected projects. These teams move on to the 2nd stage of training.


2nd stage (3 to 4 months) Incubation:

  • preparation of the startup projects for investment:
  • business models and technologies are improving as a result of working with clients and experts;
  • marketing research is carrying out;
  • intellectual property rights are protecting;
  • prototypes of products/services are created/improved;
  • takes place for each team in the format of mentoring/consulting;
  • is provided by mentors of the Innovation Holding, specialists and experts of the University, local businessmen - practitioners.

The 2nd stage ends with picking and preparation of startup projects for presentations at local (city/region) competitions of startups.


3rd stage (1 to 2 weeks). Participation of selected teams in competitions of startups of the city/region:

  • preparation of presentations;
  • pitches before the competition commission consisting of representatives of the University, investment companies, foundations, Innovation Holding "Sikorsky Challenge", local governments, and other participants of the Innovation Cluster of the city/region;
  • determination of winning teams;
  • takes place in the pitch-day format in face-to-face or on-line mode;
  • is organized by the Startup School of the University with the participation of representatives of the Innovation Cluster of the city/region.

The 3rd stage ends with the registration of the winning startups on the SCU website, submission of applications for participation in the International Festival "Sikorsky Challenge", signing of protocols of intent with potential investors for project development/investment. Teams – winners move on to the 4th stage of training.


4th stage (4 to 24 months). Acceleration of start-up projects “targeted to” the investor/investors

  • improvement of the startup project:
  • improvement of the technology and business model of the startup;
  • perfecting of the prototype and preparation for the beginning of small-scale production;
  • patenting of new technology;
  • preparation for opening a startup company;
  • takes place for each team in the format of individual mentoring/consulting;
  • is provided by the mentors of the Innovation Holding and a potential investor/investors;
  • is financed by funds of Innovation Clusters of cities/regions, potential investors, other funds.

The 4th stage ends with the presentation of the startup project to investors/funds interested in its commercialization, signing of agreements between the startup team, investment company/fund, the University, and the Innovation Holding "Sikorsky Challenge".


Funding Startup Schools "Sikorsky Challenge"


At different stages of startup development in Startup Schools "Sikorsky Challenge" funding can come from various sources. Thus, the 1st and 3rd stages (training and competition) may be funded by sponsors, grant funds, city development funds. Startup projects at the 2nd, and especially at the 4th stages (incubation and acceleration), in addition to funding from grant funds and city funds, can and should receive "preseed" investments from investment companies and venture funds.


Results of the Network of Startup Schools "Sikorsky Challenge".


Since 2014, more than 1,500 innovators aged 15 to 68 have been trained at the Startup Schools "Sikorsky Challenge".

About 400 startup teams have been selected for incubation. During this time, 75 startup projects have passed the acceleration program.