Can building startups be taught? Latvia about to find out

    19 people per spot applied for the state-sponsored part of Riga Stradins University (RSU) program, developed with Riga High Tech University (RHTU), and still counting.

    This is the first academic program in Latvia to be officially titled “Startup enterprise management”. The curriculum is based on the previous “Enterprise management” course modules, with several practical additions like startup accounting, legal IP issues in a startup, the basics of customer development, tech and design. Students will also have an internship in a startup. At the end of the three-year course each graduate will receive a social sciences BSc degree in Management.

    “RSU has experience in uniting academic education with practical business activities, and we want to make sure we transmit this experience to our students, so that they can learn from others’ mistakes before making their own.

    Though RSU is indeed the first university to roll out a program that officially has startup in it, they are not the first to try marrying startups and academic education. Stockholm School of Economics has been offering Entrepreneurship specialization course within its Economics and Business program for quite a while, including practical work with Estonian and Swedish tech and design university students with Steve Blank’s and Bob Dorf’s Startup Owner’s Manual as their coursebook. Other universities, such as LU and RISEBA, have their own business incubators and are actively hosting and visiting startup-related events. RTU and LU have co-founded Latvian Green Technology incubator developing tens of innovative green startup ideas.

    Riga High Tech University is a team of tech and startup enthusiasts and practitioners that have made their own mistakes and acquired their own experience. Together we can end the situation where young people have to choose between obtaining a degree and founding a startup – we will let them have both.

    It is always exciting to observe when the dynamic and swiftly changing startup world collides with a conservative heavyweight, be it government or education, banking or mining. 38 people have applied to RSU program here, with 2 state-sponsored spots and 18 paid course seats. Tuition fee is €1690 a year, which brings the total cost of the program to just over €5,000.

    The university did not respond to our request for comment on how this program plans to solve real-life startup needs – finding multidisciplinary teammates, gaining market access to prove the concept or the need to travel pitching, making relationships and raising funds, to name a few.

    And what is your take? How would you teach kids to build startups?

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