Future of Ukraine in Europe and innovation ecosystem ‘Sikorsky Challenge Ukraine’

By Mykhailo Zgurovsky

For most Europeans, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine is above all destroyed cities, civilian casualties and millions of refugees.

And people in the West understand clearly that the future of Ukraine is, in fact, the future of their countries.

For Ukrainians, irrespective of their age, gender or profession, the war is a harsh reality.

Higher education institutions are certainly no exception to the grim realities of war, particularly one of the flagships – the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute (KPI).

As a matter of fact, Russia’s war raging in Ukraine did not begin on February 24, 2022 but in March 2014.

From the first day of the war, KPI staff and students have been fighting at the front. During the first seven years of the war, fourteen of them sacrificed their lives for the freedom of their Motherland (four of them were posthumously awarded the title Hero of Ukraine) and seventeen – during nine months after full-scale invasion in 2022.

At present, the situation is extremely difficult due to indiscriminate missile attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine and Kyiv every week starting October 10.

A wave of 96 missiles and Iranian-made drones hit Ukraine’s energy facilities on November 15 alone. Ukrainian people are experiencing difficulties because of electricity outages. According to local authorities, about 45-50% of the critical energy infrastructure was seriously damaged by missile strikes. Ukraine survived the blackout. And there is a still greater threat of a new and even more serious blackout. Russian terrorists seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Missiles continue to rain down throughout Ukraine, killing civilians.

The attacks by Russia complicate our University operations, although all this will never shake our staunchness, resolution to fight against Russian aggressors.

Founded in 1898, the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute (KPI) is one of the most prestigious, popular institutions in Ukraine, and one of the largest research universities of science and technology in Eastern Europe.

The University has a history of turning out the pleiad of prominent figures, particularly in the scientific sphere. Yevhen Paton, inventor of electrical welding, while other include Igor Sikorsky, Kyiv-born pioneer in airplane and helicopter design who studied engineering at KPI, and Sergey Korolyov, top-flight designer of guided missiles, rockets and spacecraft, chief designer of the first artificial satellite in 1957, and the guiding genius behind the first manned spaceflight in 1961.

With 125 years of experience of engineering education, KPI has proven itself as a high-quality and affordable destination for international students. Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute has 2,279 academic staff to support its 23,400 students across 24 institutes and faculties, offering 18 fields of study and more than 40 specializations, industry-ready skills through internships from application to graduation. KPI offers broad variety of programs ranging from pre-admission courses to PhDs.

KPI’s computer-science and engineering programs are some of the best in Ukraine, and are recognized internationally owing to the academic achievements of its students.

Signing Magna Charta Universitatum in 2003, KPI has been one of the first Ukrainian universities to join the community of European universities, and it is fruitfully cooperating with more than 300 universities and other partners from 44 countries. KPI academics have participated in over 140 international projects – they have links with the United States, Poland, Germany, France, Sweden, Canada, Turkey and Japan, among others. It is worth noting too that one of the key traditions of KPI is industry-focused collaboration.

According to traditions established by the eminent scientists-innovators, who worked in KPI during its rise and development, the Innovation Ecosystem Sikorsky Challenge Ukraine (SCU) was launched, which has become nationwide over the years and international in recent years.

In prewar years, the Innovation Ecosystem Sikorsky Challenge Ukraine comprised 25 startup schools based in 20 regions of Ukraine. Regional innovation clusters, high-tech companies, banks, funds, and local authorities grouped around these startup schools. Increasingly, the Innovation Ecosystem SCU is winning worldwide popularity: three international SCU offices have been opened in the United States, two each in Israel, Azerbaijan and China, and one in Poland.

Its key element – annual festivals of innovation projects Sikorsky Challenge – the Sikorsky Challenge 2022 was devoted to the post-war rebuilding and innovative transformation of Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said in May 2022: “The postwar reconstruction of Ukraine should become the same historical example as the reconstruction of Europe after the second world war. It will be an investment in the stability of the entire Central and Eastern Europe.”

KPI, the Innovation Ecosystem SCU join this ambitious program in quest of the innovations, inventions and startups, bringing them to domestic and foreign markets, which would accelerate the reconstruction and innovative transformation of Ukraine.

At the 40th Conference of Rectors and Presidents of European Universities of Technology in Vienna on 23-24 September 2022, it was proposed to establish the common and holistic innovation space of Europe and Ukraine for its postwar innovation transformation on the basis of the Innovation Ecosystem SCU.

This will ensure the fastest possible entry of our country into the EU up to the high standards of economic development and security, as well as make the contribution of education and science to sustainable building of a new, more secure Europe.

The author is the Rector of Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute

Source: https://www.cesaer.org/news/future-of-ukraine-in-europe-and-innovation-ecosystem-sikorsky-challenge-ukraine-1347/