Tallinn University of Technology

For years, companies and private individuals have been awarding scholarships to the outstanding students of TalTech through the TalTech Development Fund to further motivate their studies. It is often thought that scholarships should be awarded by large successful companies, and that new start-ups have nothing to do here.

TAllinna Tehnikaülikooli Arengufondi nõukogu esimees Robert Kitt, Comodule kaasasutaja Heigo Varik ja stipendiaat Sergei Jegorov.
Robert Kitt, Chairman of the Council of the Development Fund of Tallinn University of Technology, Comodule co-founder Heigo Varik and scholarship recipient Sergei Jegorov

Many Estonians know the electric scooter Tuul developed by the start-up company Comodule which set up the Sander Paas scholarship last year within the TalTech Development Fund. Kertu Karu, Head of People at the company, does not agree with the statement that only large companies should be the ones to be awarding scholarships. According to her, there are many reasons as to why new or even more experienced start-ups in particular should consider setting up a scholarship.

The development of the field and the new generation must be supported

According to Kertu Karu, the Sander Paas scholarship – named after one of the first team members of Comodule – was created to commemorate the late inspiring engineer and also to support the development of young and keen engineers. The scholarship is 2,000 euros and is awarded to one of the Master’s students in information technology or electronics at Tallinn Technical University.

“In recruitment, we are currently focusing more on senior engineers and raising expertise in the team, but Comodule itselfstarted out from the eagerness of fresh students to change the world and for us, it is important to give something back to the society. Through the scholarship, we can also contribute to the development of young engineers, in addition to preserving the memory of Sander,” Karu says about the scholarship raising awareness of the company among students and introducing it as a potential future place of employment.

According to Karu, new or already functioning start-ups have a lot to offer students in this process. Basically, a company can show students a piece of the exciting and challenging work life, introduce the company's culture and show them how a supportive team works. This way, the activities of the company gain a wider audience and people will know that you do not have to look outside the country to find a good job.

“We know how difficult it is to find good talent, so all start-ups should keep the next generations in mind. After all, students are our future and to change, the world needs passionate engineers,” is the message Karu wants to communicate.

Scholarship shows the strength of a company, and its confidence in its solutions

Similarly to Kertu Karu, Elinor Toming, Member of the Management Board of the Development Fund of Tallinn University of Technology (hereinafter: Development Fund), says that the award of the scholarships helps enhance the positive image of an employer and is an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs to find talented young people who could become their future employees after graduation.

For example, for start-ups that have not yet been referred to as unicorns or whose product or service is very specific and therefore may not be known to the wider public, it may be difficult to find the experts needed through a standard job offer.

“By setting up a scholarship, we can make ourselves seen by the students of the field, but it certainly also shows the strength of the company and its confidence in its solutions seeing that it is ready to invest in the next generation,” Toming sums up the benefit of creating a fund by the potential employer.

She goes on to add that the students who have already applied for a certain company's scholarship show an interest in the company as a potential future employer. This is confirmed by a survey held among the students of TalTech at the end of 2021, where the participants pointed out that they prefer applying for scholarship from a company that speaks to them and that they see themselves working at in the future.

New companies also appearing among well-known ones

Elinor Toming says there are companies that have been awarding scholarships through the Development Fund for decades already, and that the names of these companies are probably familiar to almost all Estonians. Like Eesti Energia, ABB, Nordecon, etc., for example. Fortunately, it is increasingly evident that start-ups and new businesses have also noticed the need to support the new generation, and over the last few years, smaller companies and start-up organisations have started joining the Development Fund.

“I am glad to see that scholarships are also awarded by professional associations,” says Toming and brings the Estonian Society of Heating and Ventilation Engineers, the Estonian Furniture Industry Association and the Estonian Mining Society as examples, which make sure that companies of their field would have motivated top experts available in the future.

She points out that in 2021, a total of 104 scholarships totalling 223,000 euros were awarded through the Development Fund in the form of lump sums. The majority of the scholarships are awarded by one company (hence the name of the fund), such as the Skeleton scholarship. However, there are also scholarships that combine the funds of several companies, such as the Peep Sürje scholarship, contributed to by nearly 30 road construction and design companies.

According to Toming, the sizes of the scholarships are quite affordable for companies and in the long term, the benefits are much larger. In addition, contributing to the current students also helps popularise the field among grammar school students who, when applying to a university, choose the speciality according to their own preferences, but the popularity of the field may be an influencing factor as well.

“The more there is support by companies to students of the fields that are perhaps not that popular, the more visible the field and the more popular it becomes,” says Toming. She assures that any kind of support means a good opportunity for a student. So, every company is welcome to contribute, and tailor-made solutions are always available when needed. Read more about the Taltech Development Fund HERE.