MTS StartUp Hub: from scouting and corporate accelerator to pilots and product integration

We recently spoke with Dmitry Kurin, Head of MTS StartUp Hub, at Open Innovations, one of Russia’s flagship conference. This year the company is participating in Russia’s most noteworthy events. The goal is to reinforce the Hub’s brand positioning, to educate more businesses and partners on what it does and what value it creates.

The rationale behind the participation in Open Innovations is very similar. Dmitry believes that the conference is a great platform for stakeholders to meet in one spot to discuss current trends and potential partnerships. Dmitry noted that MTS StartUp Hub was also looking at startups exhibiting at the conference. The team was scouting for potential mutually beneficial partnerships, including those with foreign businesses.

Currently, MTS StartUp Hub is active in 5 major areas.

The first tool MTS StartUp Hub uses is the corporate accelerator that was launched 1,5 years ago. Teams from startups are invited to work on their pilots and subsequently implement their solutions with MTS. The Hub’s second instrument is launching pilots with more mature startups that already have a developed product. It also operates its own venture fund that is able to invest into startups that demonstrate synergies with MTS products. The fourth area of work is international scouting. The team has recently hired scouts in Berlin, Tel Aviv, Singapore and Hong Kong and is aiming to create a global eco system to attract the best possible global solutions.

Just a few weeks ago, MTS launched its 5G center – a platform functioning similarly to a lab. The company’s goal was to create a platform where any entrepreneur, partner or vendor could bring their equipment and test it on a 5G network or develop a new prototype in order to determined how it can be used on the next-gen network.

The company collected over a hundred applications over a period of 1,5 months and selected 10 projects, including two pitched by foreign companies. The center’s residents are companies developing robotized technologies, streaming services, drone management systems and AR technologies. Every resident has free access to 5G and the most successful projects will receive grants for further development. The total grant fund allocated towards the first residents is RUB 4.5 million. Once 5G networks are launched, the company will continue to use the center as technology testing platform.

In September, MTS signed a four-way partnership agreement with Sistema Asia, Enterprise Singapore Agency and Skolkovo Foundation. The partnership is aimed to introduce technological solutions offered by startups into the Russian and Singapore markets. Under the agreement, MTS StartUp Hub would hold regular scouting sessions among Singapore’s IT ventures. Sistema Asia, Sistema’s investment arm in Singapore, India and South-East Asia, would offer market expertise to ensure that the most viable solutions are selected. Skolkovo Foundation would contribute to expediting market entry for foreign businesses through granting Innovation Center residency upon completion of its Softlanding program.

The partnership would also allow startups participating in the Hub’s accelerator program to offer their solutions in the South-Asia market, while Enterprise Singapore would assist these startups with entering the market.

Click below for videos with English subtitles:

Interview with Dmitry Kurin:

Video on MTS 5G center: