By Dr Endrit Kromidha, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation,

CREOTALENTS is a project supported by the British Council Creative Spark Higher Education Enterprise Programme. Its aim is to develop entrepreneurship and English language capabilities in Central Asia, South Caucasus and Ukraine region. The project is led by Dr Endrit Kromidha, senior lecturer in entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Birmingham, Birmingham Business School. He is working together with Dr Armiyash Nurmagambetova L. N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University in Kazakhstan and Professor Levent Altinay from Oxford Brookes University in the UK.

More than 200 creative students from design, architecture, information technology and related fields registered on for our online and face-to-face Business Skills for Creative Entrepreneurs training course designed by Dr Kromidha that run on the 11th and 12th of February 2019. This was teaching how to succeed in the world of business, develop and protect the intellectual property, work in global team projects, partner with local and corporate clients and grow exposure, recognition and profits. On the 13th of February lecturers, early career researchers and trainers from L. N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University had a chance to hear from Prof Altinay on how to develop their research and publishing skills in entrepreneurship.

To have an impact on creative industries the scope of this project goes beyond university settings. In Astana we met with representatives of Atameken Chamber of Entrepreneurs and DAMU Entrepreneurship Development Fund who offered to co-organise the next training visit in April with us. We also met and received an invitation by the Mayor’s Office Astana to contribute to their new Astana city strategy for creative entrepreneurship. The new associate partner in the project has become The Association of Franchising Kazakhstan has become the new associate partner in this project. Together in April 2019 we want to work more closely with entrepreneurs to develop their business ideas, and local entrepreneurship trainers to develop their capabilities.

Although this is a bilateral project we intend to build a long lasting legacy. Therefore we are now planning an exchange visit from the Kazakh partners to the UK in March 2019 to enable fruitful exchanges and best practices for our second visit to Kazakhstan in April, but also to Georgia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Kirgizstan later to share our experience and have an impact across Central Asia.

Context: Traditional and modern designs, an evolving culture and talents with growing potential is what you firsts see in Astana, the young capital of Kazakhstan that has grown from about 200,000 inhabitants to over 1 million in less than 20 years. At normal winter temperatures below zero for months during winter time the city has an ambitious vision to create more than 300 thousand new jobs relying on small and medium enterprises and creative industries, empowering young entrepreneurs and women, a vision we share in this project.

Creative Spark: Higher Education Enterprise Programme is a five-year initiative to support international university and institutional partnerships to develop enterprise skills and creative economy across seven countries in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan), South Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia) and Ukraine. The programme has been developed in response to an underdeveloped creative sector and a demand for entrepreneurship training in the programme countries, supporting wealth and job creation.