Morning Health Talks Tartu – “Student engagement in entrepreneurial activities: Opportunities and Challenges”

The first event of year 2021 EIT Health Morning Health Talks Tartu 2021 takes place on 17 June from 10:00 to 12:30 in a form of an online coffee morning. Event is focused on student engagement and empowerment in entrepreneurial activities.

EIT Health Morning Health Talks (MHT) is a regional forum discussion and networking platform with the aim of co-shaping and improving the healthcare innovation ecosystem in RIS regions.

The event will give both the speakers as well as the participants a chance to think along on the following topics:

  • How to build innovation ecosystem where students among all the other stakeholders would be equally engaged and empowered;
  • Why is creating an entrepreneurial mindset among students crucial; what are the challenges and possibilities of engaging students, especially from medical faculties in entrepreneurial programs without affecting their busy curriculum;
  • What are the role and possible challenges of business idea development programs in universities;
  • How to embed real-life digital health innovation process into an innovative master’s program.

The presentations will be followed by a moderated panel, where the current situation of student entrepreneurship in Estonia will be discussed – to understand what works, what does not, and where there is room for improvement and to learn from each other, not only for the benefit of particular organisations, but for the whole local community.

At the end of the event, all participants will have the opportunity to contribute to the discussion and express their thoughts on student engagement in Estonia.

  • Date & time: 17/06/2021; 10:00-12:30 (EEST)
  • Location: Online event (Zoom)
  • Language of the event: I part (two keynote speeches) in English; II part in Estonian
  • This event is by invitation only. If you have not received an invitation yet but would like to participate, please send us an email at  with a short link/bio of yourself and describe your motivation to attend the event.

(All times are in EEST)

10:00-10:05  Welcome; Introduction by Sven Parkel (Tartu Biotechnology Park, EIT Health Hub in Estonia)

10:05-10:30  Keynote speech I

Jorge Figueira (University of Coimbra) | “If you love something too much give it away” [ENG]

Coimbra has been seen as an inspirational case setting up the foundations towards a more entrepreneurial academy in the last decades. It has been a collective ongoing effort with a clear alignment of different regional stakeholders working under the same vision and strategy. This presentation will focus on how the Innovation Ecosystem was developed in Coimbra, how it promotes and empowers all stakeholders (including students but also other citizens, municipalities, companies, etc.) to be engaged and involved in the process. Finally some examples will be given of concrete initiatives which were implemented.

10:30-10:55  Keynote speech II

Gabriella Sodar (Kék Bolygó (Blue Planet) Foundation; Semmelweis University) | “Students on board” [ENG]

Student engagement is the cornerstone of a good innovation ecosystem. Creating an entrepreneurial mindset is crucial for later successful developments. How to communicate with students? Dos and don’ts for all stakeholders.

10:55-11:15  Maret Ahonen (Startup Lab, University of Tartu) 

“What is the role of the Startup Lab at the University of Tartu and how does the STARTER program engage enterprising students?”[EST]

University studies are the best time to test the business potential of your idea, even if the chosen field is not directly related to business. For this purpose, Startup Lab has been established at the University of Tartu. At Startup Lab students from different disciplines meet in the business idea development programs, often forming teams across educational levels and disciplines. One of the key components of successful teams is the involvement of members with different sectoral knowledge. What are the challenges of such teams and what is the role of the mentor or program leader in overcoming the challenges and creating learning experience?

11:15-11:30  Priit Kruus (Digital Health program at Taltech; Dermtest) 

How to mimic the real-life digital health innovation process and embed it into an innovative master’s program? [EST]

Priit will talk about his personal experience in building digital health tools and transferring the experience into improving the way, how we teach digital health innovation. 

11:30-11:45  Ulla Preeden (Tartu Health Care College) |

“Building an entrepreneurial spirit of health care students – what can we do?”[EST]

Today, the role of education in building an entrepreneurial mindset is quite widely recognized. However the possibilities of how to do it in training health care professionals – without an additional number of lectures or additional tasks – this is the challenge. Some examples of what has been done in Tartu Health Care College will be presented.

11:45-12:15  Moderated discussion with the panelists [EST]

      • Maret Ahonen (Startup Lab, University of Tartu)
      • Liina Joller-Vahter (University of Tartu)
      • Priit Kruus (Digital Health program at Taltech; Dermtest)
      • Ulla Preeden (Tartu Health Care College)
      • Moderator: Sven Parkel (Tartu Biotechnology Park)

12:15-12:30   Discussion with the attendees – ideas and impressions [EST]


Jorge Figueira (University of Coimbra) graduated in 1997 in Chemical Engineering at the University of Coimbra, post-graduation in Business Sciences at UC. University of Coimbra Tech Transfer Office Coordinator from 2003 to 2019 (executive coordinator of the regional Innovation Ecosystem, with responsibilities for pipeline management; catalyse and monitor the ecosystem; interface for innovation and knowledge transfer issues; R&D results commercial development; IP portfolio managing and licensing). Involved in several EITHealth and Innostars activities and roles since 2016. Since 2019 Jorge is coordinating the University R&D International Networks and the pedagogical innovation unit.

Gabriella Sodar (Kék Bolygó (Blue Planet) Foundation; Semmelweis University) has a Master’s degree of International Relations on Economics basics from Corvinus University Budapest. After University she started her career at City College Plymouth HE department, UK, then returned to Budapest, worked as DIY sector key account manager at GfK. After that she spent 7 years in EU development policy management at the National Development Agency (later at the Prime Minister’s Office). Afterward she switched to technology transfer territory for 4 years, she was head of Technology Transfer unit at Semmelweis University Innovation Center, at the moment she leads the acceleration services at Kék Bolygó (Blue Planet) Foundation, mentoring start-ups and SMEs for their next investment round. Gabriella organizes and teaches the Innovation and Entrepreneurship course at Semmelweis University.

Maret Ahonen (Startup Lab at the University of Tartu) – For more than 5 years Maret has been a key person in developing and implementing pre-incubation programmes for students across disciplines and educational levels at the University of Tartu. Under Maret’s leadership Startup Lab has organized hackathons, workshops, pitching competitions, summers schools and mentor meet-ups creating inspiring work environment for students with bold ideas and experienced field experts. In collaboration with many partners from international and local start-up community she has expanded networks, coordinated the implementation of hands-on business idea development programmes that foster entrepreneurial mind-set and skills.
Besides administrative work she is a restless supervisor and coach who has been a mentor to more than 300 teams supporting their professional and personal development.

Liina Joller-Vahter is lecturing the courses of bio-entrepreneurship and innovation management at the University of Tartu. She is also the founder of the biotech company Power Algae. Their photobioreactors are designed for growing microalgae in Nordic climate and further, the biomass is a valuable source for food, feed, cosmetics, and other industries.



Priit Kruus has 12 years of digital health experience in public, private, non-governmental sector and academia, has led a number of innovation teams and published numerous papers on health policy and digital health. Priit has been the study program manager for the innovative Digital Health MSc curriculum at TalTech from 2018-2021. From practical experience Priit is the co-founder and CEO of Dermtest (, a digital toolbox for skin and wound care used by 55 hospitals and clinics and enabling better access and quality. Priit is also a member of advisory board and mentor at Estonian Connected Health cluster, mentor at Health Founders accelerator and Topic Editor in Frontiers Digital Health topic.

Dr. Ulla Preeden is the Rector of Tartu Health Care College in Estonia since 2016. She is passionate about improving the quality of higher education and is convinced that higher education institution has in addition to learning and research activities an important role by serving the community. Community service throughout the studies equips students with the right set of competences and is invaluable for their development.
In 2009, Ulla finished PhD studies in the University of Tartu. During 2008-2011 she worked as a researcher and from 2011 to 2016 she worked as the Governor of Põlva County.


EIT Health Morning Health Talks (MHT) is a regional forum discussion and networking platform with the aim of co-shaping and improving the healthcare innovation ecosystem in RIS regions. Regional key opinion leaders, policymakers, authorities, innovators, start-up leaders, investors and healthcare professionals bring to the regional table some of the most urgent healthcare challenges faced in European systems, the discussions focus on real case studies, best practices and lessons learnt.

*This event is by invitation only. If you have not received an invitation yet but would like to participate, please send us an email at  with a short link/bio of yourself and describe your motivation to attend the event.