Ahead of the start of The Next Generation of Entrepreneurs for Ukraine Lecture Series, the UCL School of Management hosted a Launch Event on Monday 11 September 2023, welcoming distinguished guests from both UCL and the Ukrainian community in London to explore the role of entrepreneurship in rebuilding Ukraine once the war is over.
To discuss this important topic His Excellency, Vadym Prystaiko, the Ambassador of Ukraine to the UK, engaged in a conversation with Professor Geraint Rees, UCL Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation & Global Engagement). They discussed the changing entrepreneurial landscape in Ukraine following the outbreak of war in the country. His Excellency shared his vision for Ukraine’s reconstruction and its emergence as a key player in global innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Lecture Series has been developed by Visiting Scholar Nataliia Hrytsiuk and Entrepreneurship Education Lead at UCL School of Management, Pierre-Jean Hanard. Nataliia joined the UCL School of Management as a part of the Academic Sanctuary Scheme with The British Council and the Council for At-Risk Academics’ (CARA). The Lecture Series aims to equip aspiring and existing entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge required to transform their business ideas into a reality and, by extension, support the rebuilding of Ukraine. Each lecture will cover the different aspects of venture creation and participants will develop an understanding of the different nuances between the Ukrainian and UK approaches in building a viable business venture.
The evening began with an address from Professor Davide Ravasi, Director of the UCL School of Management, who welcomed attendees and discussed the ways in which the school addresses an array of societal challenges with pioneering research and pedagogical approaches. Professor Ravasi also explained how entrepreneurship is a key pillar for UCL School of Management that permeates through all programmes and initiatives.
The highlight of the evening was an insightful conversation and Q&A session between His Excellency Vadym Prystaiko and Professor Geraint Rees shedding light on the stark realities of the war, which has forced many Ukrainians to flee to other countries. Whilst the hope is that Ukrainians can soon return home safely, His Excellency also addressed the opportunities that these overseas experiences present for Ukrainians, such as Professor Hrytsiuk, to develop their knowledge of other industries, institutions and governments and ultimately incorporate these learnings into the Ukrainian equivalents, such as the education system, when they return.
Whilst at UCL School of Management, Professor Hrytsiuk has also undertaken research into the UK start-up ecosystem, with her findings providing invaluable insights for aspiring entrepreneurs within the Ukrainian community.
Entrepreneurship is present across numerous departments at UCL and can be a powerful tool for all disciplines. His Excellency recognised this and underscored the importance for Ukrainian universities to invest in diverse scientific disciplines, including social sciences, engineering, and mechanics, to advance the country’s educational landscape. He further elaborated on the need for a national shift in the perception of entrepreneurship. This is crucial to support creative entrepreneurs, enabling them to rejuvenate Ukraine’s cultural identity in the post-war reconstruction phase.
In the ensuing Q&A section, His Excellency also discussed the fundamental role that women and specifically female entrepreneurs will play in the rebuilding of Ukraine – particularly within the wider context of a war that has seen the physical and emotional suffering of much of the country’s male population.
He also spoke of the main sectors he believes will be crucial to the rebuilding of a prosperous Ukrainian society that is at the forefront of innovation and entrepreneurship: AI, technology – both green and standard – and finance.
When discussing sustainability, of which UCL School of Management is a thought leader, His Excellency said, “This is a part of the bigger picture. I see it as a six-stage process” with the first two stages focused on rebuilding the essentials, such as sewage, water, electricity and the second education, universities and roads. “In the third stage we will be able to free our minds to consider what Ukraine is really about, is it still the nation that produces grains…or are we trying to be something better than that…maybe we will become a hydrogen giant or start to produce steel.” His Excellency highlighted that the destruction of infrastructure has paradoxically provided an opportunity to rebuild the country in a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable manner.
Later in the evening, Nataliia shared a selection of start-up ideas from applicants, most of which echoed the industries and needs His Excellency thought essential to the rebuilding of a prosperous Ukraine. Participants will be working on an array of start-up ideas from sustainable livestock farming to Ukraine heritage trails. By far one of the most popular ideas - and not surprising given the critical need for those on the frontline to successfully recover and reintegrate into society in a post-war Ukraine - was on technology and education surrounding mental health and rehabilitation.
The event concluded with engaging conversations between His Excellency and attendees over a selection of Ukrainian drinks and canapes.
Learn more about the UCL School of Management’s Next Generation of Entrepreneurs for Ukraine Lecture Series here.
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Notes to Editors
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