Your Chance: the Story of Success of the UMNIK Program Winner Igor Oleynik


SUSU students have the opportunity to participate in the program UMNIK, which is dedicated to supporting young researchers’ commercially-oriented technology projects. The winners receive a grant to the tune of 500 thousand rubles for 2 years to develop their innovative projects.

Projects are chosen by their scientific novelty, the relevance of the idea, the technical significance, plan of realization, promise of commercialization of research results, and by evaluation of their capabilities and fascination with their ideas.

Selection occurs in five key areas: information technologies, medicine of the future, modern materials and technologies for their creation, new equipment and hardware, and biotechnology.

The winner of 2016 Igor Oleynik received a grant to develop a hardware-software complex for smart searching for free parking spaces based on data from surveillance cameras. He told us about the contest, his creation, and secrets to success.

– Tell us, why did you decide to participate in this project? What were the selection stages?

– Participation in the program is a great chance to hear the opinion of experts on your project, and also to receive financial support for the realization of your project if you are successful. Winning this program, which everyone hopes for, is quite prestigious and opens up certain prospects, at the very least in terms of attracting support from investment funds.

The first stage of selection was remote – we had to send a description of our project and a short presentation in our application. I didn’t have any issues at this stage – I have been working on my project for more than a year, and I already had practically all of the necessary information. Then I had to participate in the in-person stage. Preparing for this stage took more time – finishing up the presentation, preparing for presenting before a jury – this is the main competitive moment, and therefore the main difficulty. After all, your presentation must be built by some particular criteria which the judges also used to report their evaluations.

– You became one of the winners and received a grant for your creation. Tell us, what emotions did you have when you found out that you won?

– I was participating in the contest for the second time (I tried for the first time a year earlier), so I was more sure of my victory, but losing would not have been so upsetting for me, since I already had that experience. Nonetheless, I was very happy that the jury evaluated my idea and the work I had completed appropriately. The wait for results turned out to be a bit longer than I planned, and all of us waited for the competition results impatiently.

– You proposed the creation of a hardware-software complex for smart searching for open parking spots using data from surveillance cameras. What pushed you to the creation of such a project?

– Perhaps this topic is not as relevant for Chelyabinsk, which does not have the same amount of cars as in Moscow, and we have a decent amount of parking. But in large cities, searching for parking spaces can take up to an hour. And this is not just wasted time and nerves for drivers, it’s also carbon dioxide and other byproducts of combustion which pollute the air. The system for searching for parking spaces will help drivers find parking spaces much more quickly.

– What stage is your development at now?

– At this time, a prototype of the application is ready as well as the main function of the server. On the whole, the ability to search for parking spaces has already been realized, and right now I’m working on retrofitting the algorithm and developing a few additional functions which will help drivers. But in the future I also plan on finishing up some already developed portions of the system.

– Can you share some advice for future participants of the UMNIK Program? What is your secret to success?

– Considering that I won the contest only on the second try, my first piece of advice is not to give up, and keep participating in the contest even if you lose. The second – you must go to the meeting held before the in-person contest, at which they develop presentations that were sent in in advance, and they give advice on how to improve them. Without a doubt, it is not suggested to put a lot of text on slides – this is a common mistake among people with little experience in presenting. And, of course, prepare carefully for your presentation according to the criteria of evaluation. You can present your project very well, but if the judges don’t have anything to evaluate for certain set criteria, then you won’t be able to gain the points necessary to win. After all, each criterion is important in terms of the feasibility of investment in the project.

Participation is open to citizens of the Russian Federation from 18 to 30 who dream of realizing their innovative project. You can send your application.

The remote stage of the program lasts until November 5th, inclusive. From November 6th through 20th applicants will be selected for the final stage. Approval of the list of participants for the final stage of the conference will occur on November 21st. Presentation materials will be collected from participants of the final stage of the conference November 22nd-28th. The in-person stage of the conference will be held November 29th-30th.


Ekaterina Kuznetsova
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