“It was incredible!” exclaimed 10th grade student Polina Kolpakova, describing her impressions of the 2019 Open Innovation Forum (OI-2019). Excitement and enthusiasm have been the chief reactions of participants from the Skolkovo Gymnasium community with regard to this year’s event. The Gymnasium’s participation in OI-2019 is thanks in large part to the event’s “guest” format this year.

“Not-So-Roundtable” with representatives of the Skolkovo Foundation and students of the gymnasium is modeled by Director Oksana Demyanenko. Photo: Sk.ru.

Over the three days of the forum, Gymnasium students served as event volunteers. As part of multiple “quick reaction teams”, these students welcomed and oriented guests with regard to forum sessions and seminars, interacting as equals with their adult peers. “In a very short time,” explained 10th grade student Klementina Levchenko, “I learned to quickly and efficiently work as part of a team, and I had the amazing opportunity to meet so many interesting people!”

Beyond just volunteering, Gymnasium students also participated in the “Not-So-Roundtable” discussion held during the first day of the forum with representatives from the Skolkovo Foundation. The improvisational question-answer-discussion format of the event allowed participants to get at the heart of two important issues: entrepreneurship and student participation in internship programs with Skolkovo startups and companies-in-residence. 

There was indeed much to discuss this year as the Gymnasium Student Council has introduced a new startup-oriented initiative they are calling “Startup-Accelerator”. Participants shared their ideas and received valuable feedback from leaders in the field, including Igor Drozdov (Chair of the Skolkovo Foundation), Oleg Dubnov (Vice President and Acting Director of the “Energoeffectivny” Technology Cluster), Yurii Saprykin (Vice President for Regional and International Development) and Sergey Dutov (the IT-Cluster’s Director for Development and Industrial Partnerships). These experts advised students on how to further develop their ambitious ideas and make these projects a reality.

Our colleagues from Finland’s University of Oulu, Kari Kumpulainen and Raimo Salo, also took part in OI-2019, presenting on ways to improve student well-being in education. They later hosted an open session at the Skolkovo Gymnasium on organizing work with special needs children, sharing their experiences in creating inclusion-based educational opportunities and institutions. Members of the Gymnasium’s Psychological Services team as well as representatives from the “Absolute-Help” Foundation and School also participated in the session.