Building connection one heart at a time
Building connection one heart at a time

Startup Village in Digital Format

How limitations turned into opportunities
Startup Village in Digital Format

Every May, the Skolkovo Innovation Centre hosts Startup Village international conference. It brings together thousands of specialists from different regions of Russia and other countries including technological entrepreneurs, investors, and managers of innovative companies. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the usual schedule had to be changed this year. However, the organisers decided not to cancel the conference but to hold it in online format. Yekaterina Inozemtseva, Director General of Skolkovo Forum, told us about the main features of Startup Village 2020.

Sk_ _T.jpg Yekaterina Inozemtseva
Director General of Skolkovo Forum

"We are living in the digitalisation era. Today, we have unique technological capabilities for online events. Our task was to use them as much as possible and make the meeting convenient and interesting. We coped with that task. Startup Village 2020 conference had a record number of participants: more than 1.7 million viewers”, comments Ms. Inozemtseva. 

Despite the change in format, the organisers managed to maintain all the key elements of the event habitual to its participants. The online programme combined the following parts: business programme, contest, and exhibition.


Startup Village has always been a platform for communication among specialists from the fields of technological entrepreneurship and innovation. This year, that feature was preserved in the online format as well. 

In 2020, Startup Village conference’s business programme traditionally included lectures, sessions, workshops, and interviews with famous speakers. Experts discussed topical issues related to technology brands, business and production challenges in the context of the pandemic, and new opportunities given by the digitalisation era. They paid special attention to the topic of women’s entrepreneurship and women’s social initiatives. The speakers of the section included representatives and heads of Women in Tech, Women in Governance, Cartier, and other major organisations.


Startup Village’s online format also preserved traditional contest programme. This time, experienced experts evaluated projects in four main categories: IT, biomedical technologies, energy efficient technologies, and industrial technologies. They selected three winners in each nomination who received monetary rewards. In addition, the online format of the event made it possible to conduct additional voting among conference participants. Thus, there was also a project worthy of the audience’s prize. 

The annual exhibition of innovations and technological solutions for startups was another bright part of the conference. This year, organisers held in a completely new and unusual 3D format. Anyone can visit the online exhibition now.


“When organising an online event if compared to offline meetings, the main task is not only to attract participants but also to keep their attention. The reason is that, when not having necessary information or enough emotions, a person can leave the event by pressing only one button. That’s why it was important for us to create a programme that would really attract participants and at the same time integrate the maximum number of interactive features into the platform”, explains Yekaterina Inozemtseva. 

Participants of Startup Village 2020 had an opportunity to ask any speaker a question, comment on the session, and use the ‘smart search’ to find like-minders among registered users. The online platform provided a large number of moderated thematic chat rooms and full integration with social networks. Any user could share useful information on his or her webpage and invite friends to join the session


“As opposed to offline format, online format requires the fastest possible reaction. That’s why it was important for us not only to attract participants but also to engage them in our activities. That worked out great”. 

Transition to the online format required new technological solutions and changes in terms of organisation and event management. However, all that did not become an obstacle. On the contrary, that made it possible to bring the conference to a new level. Firstly, the number of participants has increased significantly and the geographical coverage of the event has expanded. Secondly, this year’s conference brought together the strongest group of speakers in the history of Startup Village. Experts did not have to adjust their busy schedules and fly to Moscow from other cities and countries. They needed only an hour of spare time and access to the internet to share their experience and thoughts.

According to Yekaterina Inozemtseva, digitalisation made it possible to go beyond the borders and make the event even bigger. 

“It was our first experience in organising such an event, especially on such a scale. We will definitely keep the online format and continue to use technological capabilities. However, that doesn’t mean giving up offline events. Live meetings have their advantages that can’t be replaced by any technology”, emphasized Yekaterina Inozemtseva. 

Viktoria Yezhova, Global Women Media news agency

Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov

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