Recently, Michael Ryabokon, head of Noosphere Ventures Ukraine office, wrote on his blog that the engineering startup battle - the Vernadsky Challenge, initiated by Max Polyakov and Noosphere Ventures and organized 3 years in a row, won’t be held in 2018. It was also announced on the official page of the competition.
Michael Ryabokon mentioned that there are many circumstances which prompted organizers to decide to suspend Vernadsky Challenge. The main reason is the low interest from government authorities and media sources. Another reason is the lack of a location for such events. For the past three years the event was held in the National Aerospace Educational Center of Ukrainian Youth in Dnipro. This place isn’t suitable for big events like this because it lacks heating facilities and is currently in poor physical condition. It definitely is not an appropriate place to invite guests such as Jamie Hyneman or Jaanika Merilo.
Vernadsky Challenge is a startup competition, powered by Noosphere Ventures partner Max Polyakov, with grant prices for investment funding, technical and mentor support, and access to the Noosphere knowledge and science bases.
Organizers confirmed that the Vernadsky Challenge is great competition for startups from different areas: space technology, alternative energy, agricultural machinery, medical equipment, robotics, new materials metallurgy, electronics and others. For its 3-years in existence, the Vernadsky Challenge awarded approximately 5 million Ukrainian hryvnias (approx $190 000) to more than 10 winners.
Because the Vernadsky Challenge is an open competition, the geography of startups is not limited to Ukraine. Organizers received at least 10% of applications for participation from startups from other countries of the world, like the United States, Peru, Albania, Israel, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and India.
Max Polyakov, the founder of Association Noosphere and mastermind of the Vernadsky Challenge, has been popularizing maker movement ideas through a number of social events in Ukraine in recent years. He has been trying to create platforms where the young generation of scientists could equally and freely share their projects and innovative ideas in order to get real feedback and appreciation from visitors and experts of different spheres. One of these platforms was the Vernadsky Challenge.
Earlier this year, Max Polyakov was pleasantly surprised by the interest from the Dnipro’s citizens for events like BestRoboFest, where people widely participated in drone racing shows, numerous workshops, and workshops as well. Concluding BestRoboFest 2017, he said that he could see the necessity to continue organizing such events with the idea to help young startups from Ukraine succeed worldwide. But, after announcing the annual event - the Vernadsky Challenge and not finding any support from government authorities, Polyakov decided to put this event on hold.
Organizers of the Vernadsky Challenge promised that each application that had been already sent will be passed on to the Noosphere Ventures investment fund. Unfortunately, cooperation with the fund will not guarantee the opportunity to get financial grants because not all members of the company are as interested in social projects.
Max Polyakov and Noosphere Ventures are trying to solve the problems that have arisen in order to continue the Vernadsky Challenge. They believe that with the help of government authorities and various partners, especially, with the part of finding an appropriate location, the competition can be revived.