Max Polyakov and Association Noosphere put the brakes on Vernadsky Challenge 2018

22 November 2017
By Bryan Smyth

European News

Max Polyakov and Noosphere have suspended plans for next year’s Vernadsky Challenge 2018, a popular annual competition for engineering startups held in Ukraine

The Vernadsky Challenge is a popular annual competition for engineering startups held in Ukraine.

Image credit: Vernadsky Challenge

Michael Ryabokon, co-founder of Association Noosphere, announced on his blog last week that the Vernadsky Challenge that was scheduled for 2018 has been put on hold for 2018. A similar announcement was also on the official Facebook page for the challenge. The competition had been an annual event held by Max Polyakov and Noosphere for the last 3 years, but this year, the Ryabokon cited circumstances that were out of the company’s control for the decision.

According to the posting by Michael Ryabokon, there were several reasons which culminated together; the key problem being a general lack of support from government agencies for the competition. The only venue suitable to hold an event of this size in the city of Dnipro, Ukraine was the stylish Ukrainian Youth National Aerospace Education Center, which seemed to perfectly embody the spirit of the event.

Unfortunately, neither the National Space Agency Ukraine, nor local authorities kept up the maintenance of the hall over the past three years, leaving it unfit for use. Max Polyakov has offered to back the necessary repairs through his company Noosphere Ventures, but government authorities responsible for the facility have largely ignored his offers.

This has lead to more than one embarrassing situation, the least of which was not hosting Jamie Hyneman, the famous mythbuster, at Vernadsky Challenge 2017 to show off the ingenuity of Ukrainian youth in an unheated education center with a leaky roof.

This, along with other factors, has caused organizers to suspend the event for 2018. Any applications that have been submitted for the 2018 competition will still be considered by Noosphere Ventures, co-founded by Max Polyakov, on a case by case basis, but they will not guarantee any grants will be issued.

Noosphere has supported the competition in the past, to support inventors, both local and foreign. It is possible that they may still be able to hold the finals at a location in the USA. As much of the tech world is centred on Silicon Valley then moving to the USA would have an added benefit of bringing the entrants to the attention of some of the key players. However, an American location would also make it more difficult for finalists from Eastern Europe to attend.

The Vernadsky Challenge has been an annual event since 2015 and has had entrants from several countries, including Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Israel, Albania, and India.

Image credit: Vernadsky Challenge

The winning teams have also had equally diverse themes, whether it be a device that helps doctors monitor patient data with the Cardiomo device, or CloviTek, a climate control device for green homes and buildings, or the interactive toy for inquisitive children, Cubomania.

Since 2015, Max Polyakov has participated in the event through Noosphere to provide grants to promising startups worth over $190,000 USD.

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