UW–Madison and Yessenov University: Creating a University-driven Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Table discussions (YU)
Table discussions (YU)

UW–Madison coach: Andrew Richards, Director Emeritus, Discovery to Product

Yessenov University team (Aktau): Roza Jumabekova*, Evgeniy Muralev, Aigul Yesturliyeva, Aizhan Omarova, Gulnaz Zhilkishbayeva, Zhadra Zhailaubaeva * indicates team leader

As coach, Andrew Richards offered them guidance and models on what universities internationally have done to foster entrepreneurship and innovation in their communities, drawing in particular from the growth in recent years of UW–Madison’s vibrant culture of innovation. As they implemented specific elements of an ecosystem—such as entrepreneurship courses, coworking spaces, patenting assistance, competitions—Richards helped the team see what they were doing from an institutional perspective.  For example, they learned that they needed to foster teamwork across university units and align the university’s strategic plan and mission with their own. Perhaps most importantly, the YU team saw the need to collaborate with other universities across Kazakhstan and plan strategically to build country-wide entrepreneurial ecosystems across industries and businesses. At the final workshop in Almaty, they unveiled their idea for mapping Kazakhstani regions of entrepreneurship and innovation, anchored by specific regional universities and their core areas of expertise. This idea resonates on a country-wide scale with UW–Madison’s Innovate Network of campus and community partners.

Richards observed, “The YU team and broader campus community has made incredible progress towards their goal of creating an entrepreneurial university and growing a regional startup ecosystem.  Equally as exciting and important is their goal to engage with universities across Kazakhstan to leverage each others strengths to benefit their universities and the national economy. I applaud their hard work and vision.”

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