Travelogue – University of Genova and its “Start Up Innovative” program

Text by Jonas Aakenes

One of the students from NTNU School of Entrepreneurship, Jonas Aakenes, recently visited the University of Genova to see how they managed the entrepreneurship education at the school.

Start Up Innovative

Master students at the University of Genova is offered a venture creation program called Start Up Innovative. The program lasts for only two to three months, and the end goal is to help and encourage students into starting their own companies. The program is a quite new initiative, previously only offered two times, so the university is still experimenting on how to make the program better than the times before.

The program consist of 15-20 students from different backgrounds and fields of study, where they contribute with their own ideas while being offered about 120 hours of lectures and workshops with experts and other startups. At the end of these months, the students then write their business model and plan to be evaluated by experts and professors.

One of the startups that started through this program is Cynomys 7. They deliver data services for IoT solutions, aimed both towards farming and office spaces. Other examples are to be found on their Youtube channel 8.

Other organizations in collaboration with Start Up Innovative

In the Genova area, there are a lot of different helpdesks and startup incubators where one can seek help. Basic information and help is possible to get through Confindustria, which is a professional association that offers help to students that want to start a company. If the idea is based on university science, IIT helps with patenting and the technology aspect of the startup. In addition, here are different incubators in close collaboration with the university, like Wylab and BIC Liguria.

So what does the students think about starting their own company?

I talked with some of the students during my week in Genova, and the way to think about startups in Italy is quite different than in Norway. Most students are concerned about getting a job, and they often search for jobs outside Italy. I found out that most of the students didn’t have the confidence to start something for themselves, and if they wanted to – they didn’t know of any organizations to help them, unlike what we have in Norway with initiatives such as START NTNU and Spark* NTNU. But to my understanding, creating your own business in Italy is hard. One of the few students that actually started her own company was financed by her family before they were even able to get a loan from a bank, to be able to get income for the company. Even though her company already had won awards and financial contributions. In general, it was quite eye-opening that the differences are that big from Trondheim to Genova. But the great thing now is that the University of Genova is really looking at this as an exciting possibility and is experimenting with what they can do to make it easier – Start Up Innovative will be exciting to follow in the next few years.