The 5th edition of STup! – Split hosted the International Student Startup Competition

 Split once again becomes the global stage for student entrepreneurship

 

Split, the second-largest city in Croatia, sits beautifully on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea. The city blossomed around Diocletian’s Palace, a grand structure built for the retired Roman emperor. Today, Split, lovingly dubbed “the Mediterranean flower,” is a bustling economic hub known for its perfect climate and stunning scenery. One of the key parts of the city is the University of Split, which plays a vital role with its diverse academic programs and research activities. Hosting around 18,000 students, the university is a powerhouse of knowledge and innovation, fueling the region’s growth and vibrancy.

 

A Gathering of Bright Minds on the Adriatic Shore

On June 20th and 21st, the Faculty of Economics, Business and Tourism of University of Split hosted the thrilling fifth edition of the international student startup competition STup!2024. This event was made within the framework of a BIP in which European University of the Seas (SEA-EU) alliance took part. Also, a collaboration with the University Green Digital HUB project, supported by the City of Split, the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR), and the Croatian Agency for SMEs, Innovation, and Investments (HAMAG-BICRO) enabled the realization of the event. Main goal of the competiton is to foster connections among competitors and visitors, enhance entrepreneurial culture, and facilitate the exchange of ideas and experiences on an international level.

For two vibrant days, Split transformed into a stage for innovation, showcasing new technologies and ideas as university projects vied for the attention of renowned experts, potential clients, and investors. STup!2024 brought together local and international startups, entrepreneurs, incubator representatives, accelerators, companies, and investors. The event also featured programs for young innovators and startups, with thirty selected startups from 18 countries participating. University startups competed in categories like Robotics, AI and IoT, AgriTech, Food and Bioeconomy, Martech, Energy and Environment, Education (EdTech), Tourism and Creative Industries, but also Medicine and Quality of Life.

 

First day of Inspiration

The first day of the competition began with the introduction of the jury. This esteemed panel, along with the speakers, gathered experts in entrepreneurship and investment management from Hungary, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, the UK, France, Spain, Serbia, and Croatia. Notable figures included Arjan Goudsblom, Co-founder and Director at Preneurz.Amsterdam; Alexander Bernhard, Co-founder and Partner at Impact Hub Stuttgart; and Kristina Čorić, Project Manager at HdM Startup Center, among others.

Many students presented their startups in hopes of winning the competition. Among them, we highlight an interview with two young students from the University of Brest, part of the SEA-EU Alliance. They shared their journey to inspire and encourage other students to participate. Their startup (Pyren) showcased its decorative frame using e-paper technology to mirror real-time weather. One night, while sitting by the fire, they came up with the idea  imagining dynamic paintings. The founders aim is to create a minimal viable product and expand from Europe to international markets by 2027. They shared their journey to inspire and encourage other students to participate

Two key events occurred on the first day: Alexander Bernhard spoke on “How to be an Impact Entrepreneur,” followed by a panel discussion on “The Role of Universities in Supporting Local Startup Ecosystems“. After a dynamic day, the participants enjoyed a party in the city center.

Final Pitches and Brilliant Ideas: Day Two Unfolds

On the second day of the competition, the finalists made their final pitches, and the much-anticipated speech took place by Rafael Ventura Fernandez who delivered a thought-provoking lecture titled “What would Maslow say to the startup CEO. Among the promising and innovative ideas we encountered, it was those aimed at assisting people with disabilities that truly resonated with us. We had the pleasure of speaking with Petra, a student from the University of Split who is a part of SEA-EU Alliance, who presented an inspiring idea:

“Our startup provides a comprehensive solution for translating sign language into spoken language and vice versa. It offers everything needed for communication with individuals who have hearing difficulties and are nonverbal, all in one place. The inspiration for this project came from my friendships with members of the deaf community throughout my life. As a result, we developed an application that can solve these problems and make life easier for these individuals. We strive to ensure that our product truly helps people. We hope that future generations, just as passionate as we are, will continue to develop this product and other humane ideas”.

At the conclusion of the second day of this exciting competition, students from Serbia claimed first place with their project, “Delta Sort.”. The competition crowned the best team as “Best University Startup 2024,” awarding numerous prizes such as direct participation in the renowned TechBBQ conference. Infobip, a global IT and telecommunications company, awarded the winners €7,500 for utilizing Infobip’s communication technology. Second place, awarded to Project „Dori“, received €5,000, while the third-place team was awarded €2,500 to the project „Study Bridge“.Afterward, all participants had the opportunity to join an organized city tour followed by an evening party.

 

Till the next time!

STup! was the perfect opportunity for university startups to connect with the international startup community and attract the attention of European investors. The full program for this year’s event is available on the official website www.stup.efst.hr and here you can check what students from UBO AND CAU have told us about the competition.

 

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