The establishment of a Startup Center for the realization of students’ creativity and initiatives at Azerbaijan State Oil and Industry University was initiated by Rector Mustafa Babanli in the autumn of 2015. Named as “eazi START”, the Center includes a startup school, a coworking space, and a laboratory.
At the Startup School, as a first step, it was agreed to collaborate with experts from Ukraine and Israel in order to hold trainings providing the most creative students with basic knowledge about startup, invention, and business. The registration for the School started on December 29, 2015, and 247 applications were submitted. After relevant revision, 100 candidates were nominated for the first stage of the School. Along with local students, there were representatives of other universities, as well as foreigners.
The first stage lasted for six months - from January through to June 2016. Partners and mentors of the Center Igor Peer (Be Next IT business incubator, Israel) and Inna Malyukova (Sikorsky Challenge Startup School and business incubator, Ukraine) held trainings for participants. According to the program, during the first two months, group trainings included general information about startups and innovative business, whereas during the following two months participants conducted individual work on their initial initiatives and projects.
Activities regarding the transformation of 15 initiatives and projects selected for further development into presentation, elaboration of business plans, preparation of prototypes were carried out from May to June.
The first festival of the Startup School was organized at Azerbaijan State Oil and Industry University on June 30, 2016. 15 projects were presented to guests by relevant teams. Head of the Department of Humanitarian Policy Issues at the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan Fatma Abdullazade, Minister of Education Mikayil Jabbarov, state officials, university rectors, local and foreign investors took part in the event and highly appreciated the presented projects. Attending the festival, Israeli businessmen and investors also stressed the potential of some projects to easily enter the global market. The official opening ceremony of the “eazi START” Startup and Innovation Center took place on the same day, and the guests became acquainted with the conditions created for young startupers at ASOIU.
Currently, the existing projects cover both software and hardware areas. Projects mainly related to computer programs and mobile applications are directly implemented by the teams at the “eazi START” Startup and Innovation Center. The Department of Information Technologies of the University is closely involved in the process, providing necessary advice and contribution. Engineering activities are carried out at special laboratories available for the use of students. One or several teachers from the relevant department of the University are engaged as consultants on each project and try to correctly direct the students.
Azerbaijan State Oil and Industry University is eager to provide more support for the development of projects through the “eazi START” Startup and Innovation Center. After preparing the prototypes of several projects in early 2017, further activities will be carried out to bring them into local and foreign markets. Their mass production will be organized depending on the supply and demand.
The next training cycle of the “eazi START” Startup and Innovation Center has started as of October 2017. The trainings will last for about six months based on a predefined plan.