According to Kalev Kaarna, head of Idea Lab at the University of Tartu, many high-potential research results of researchers and students remain unused, never make it to functioning prototypes, and find no application in the everyday life, as research groups lack the funds needed for completing their development.
“That said, Estonian entrepreneurs often source new ideas from abroad, even though our researchers, too, have ideas that enterprising spirit could introduce into everyday life. For the past seven years, SEB, with its Ajujaht (Brain Hunt) programme, has been seeing to it that there is more entrepreneurial spirit in Estonia; now we, in parallel, also wish to contribute to ensure that our enterprising spirit is backed up by worthy substance,” Riho Unt, head of SEB in Estonia, laid out the reasons for the need to establish the Vega Fund and the decision to chip in for student projects.
“The constitution of the Vega Fund collaboratively with the University of Tartu is an important step in bringing the knowledge tucked away at institutions of higher education into practice and in strengthening the position of Estonian businesses in the face of global competition,” Unt added.
“The Vega Fund is the first funding facility set up for the implementation of innovative ideas based on students’ specialist knowledge to support both exciting ideas in their early stages and more mature development projects which might interest the business community,” explained Kaarna, who will be coordinating competitions at the Vega Fund.
The formal launch event for the Vega Fund was held from 11 am on 23 January, in the atrium on Level 4 of the SEB headquarters in Tallinn, with researchers and student teams from the University of Tartu presenting their most innovative inventions and demonstrating how businesses might benefit from them.