Hosted by:
BOOST x Ukraine

Blue Innovation Challenge

Submission deadline:
June 9 (CLOSED)

Blue Economy for the City on the Wave

Join the Q&A session on May 8, 10:00 via the link: (Language: Ukrainian)

In the wake of unprecedented challenges brought forth by the Russian war, Mykolaiv City stands at a crossroads of resilience and renewal. Once a thriving economic powerhouse nestled along the banks of the Dnipro River and the Black Sea, Mykolaiv now grapples with the harsh reality of severed access to waterways, continuous shelling, and dwindling investment prospects. 

Amidst adversity, Mykolaiv is charting a bold course toward economic revival through the concept of the Blue Economy. But what exactly is the Blue Economy? It’s a transformative approach that harnesses the sustainable use of water resources to drive economic growth, enhance livelihoods, and promote environmental conservation. For Mykolaiv, transitioning to the Blue Economy represents not just a strategy for survival, but a blueprint for prosperity. 

By capitalizing on its strategic location and maritime heritage, Mykolaiv can unlock a wealth of opportunities in sectors such as marine transportation, fisheries, renewable energy, coastal tourism, and others linked to the Blue Economy. Embracing sustainable practices and innovative technologies, the city can reinvigorate its economy while safeguarding its natural resources for generations to come. 

To assist the City on the Wave, UNDP Ukraine is launching the Blue Innovation Challenge — an acceleration programme that welcomes entrepreneurs, innovators, and visionaries to join us in shaping Mykolaiv’s future.  

The Blue Innovation Challenge is open to micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) with groundbreaking solutions that align with the principles of the Blue Economy. Whether it’s pioneering marine technologies, eco-friendly maritime services, or resource-efficient business models, your innovations have the power to propel Mykolaiv’s transformation into a central hub for the Blue Economy in the Black Sea region. 

The acceleration programme will handpick a maximum of 10 MSMEs that demonstrate significant business potential for making the shift toward Mykolaiv’s development strategy. For this, UNDP Ukraine has teamed with BOOST — a regional acceleration programme for social impact innovators in Europe and Central Asia. Together we will provide impactful learning for the selected participants. 

As part of the Blue Innovation Challenge, the MSMEs will receive financial awards of up to USD10,000. Subject to the availability of funds, participants may also have the chance to pitch for additional financing after completing the programme. 

Together, let’s turn adversity into opportunity, and build a brighter future for Mykolaiv and Ukraine. Join us in Mykolaiv as we embark on a journey of innovation, sustainability, and economic resurgence.  

Apply now and be a catalyst for change in the Blue Economy transition! 

The Blue Innovation Challenge is implemented within the framework of the Mayors for Economic Growth facility and supported by the Innovation Fund Project funded by the Kingdom of Denmark. The projects are implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

🇺🇦 Читайте українську версію

What we’re looking for

We’re looking for innovations related to the blue economy that leverage blue, sustainable, and resource-efficient solutions. Solutions that will propel Mykolaiv’s development as a central hub for the blue economy in the Black Sea region will be prioritised. 

Eligibility criteria

  • Type: MSMEs with a minimum of 1 year of business operations.
  • Location registration: Registered in Ukraine and with the intent to develop and/or deploy the innovation in Mykolaiv city territorial community.
  • Language: Ukrainian 

Selection Criteria*

  • Innovation: Innovations that use cutting-edge technologies or innovative digital tools, or introduce new ideas, approaches, products, or services to a target group or a market. 
  • Feasibility: Innovations that are feasible, i.e. they can be tested and/or implemented during July-October 2024 with the suggested budget.   
  • Scalability: Innovations that have the potential to be scaled up or replicated within or even beyond their respective geographical area of operations.  
  • Potential impact: Innovations that contribute to Mykolaiv City’s Blue Economy Transition strategy and demonstrate high potential for impact.
  • Management: MSMEs with an adequate team in place, with clear roles and responsibilities, and the capacity to develop and implement their innovation.

*Each criterion carries a weight of 20%. 


1 May 2024
Launch of the call
9 June 2024
Application deadline extended
21 June 2024
MSMEs selected
June 2024
Onboarding & Pitch day
June 2024
BOOST talks
July 2024
BOOST talks & Mentorship
July 2024
Provision of financial awards to selected MSMEs
July-August 2024
Acceleration of the innovations
August 2024
Demo day
August 2024
Selection of MSMEs for top-up funding
September-October 2024
Further acceleration of innovations & award reporting

Who can apply

Type of applicant:
Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises




The BOOST Blue Innovation Challenge programme offers MSMEs in Mykolaiv, Ukraine the opportunity to further develop and implement their business innovations related to the Blue Economy.  Through a combination of individual mentorship and BOOST talks with local and international industry experts, financial awards, and networking opportunities, you will develop impact management capabilities and improve your business and pitching skills. Upon graduation, top performers will be featured on the BOOST website, and you will all have the chance to join the BOOST Alumni network where you will have access to additional resources and support, including networks, funding opportunities, mentorship, etc.


To ensure the best outcome of the learning journey, you will be matched with national and international mentors with whom you will have routine meetings to discuss and evaluate your organization’s progress. These mentors will also match you with relevant individuals, organizations, and investors in their respective networks as well as facilitate peer-to-peer learning by connecting MSMEs working in similar fields and/or using similar technologies or business models.
Sprint 1: SDG Impact Management

Sprint 1 focuses on equipping you with a better understanding of the concept and principles of impact and how impact interlinks with sustainability and scalability. You will learn how to develop SDG-aligned impact visions and theories of change, with indicators for proper impact monitoring and management. 

Sprint 2: Business Model Acceleration 

Sprint 2 focuses on developing your business, organizational, and management skills and capabilities. You will be introduced to and coached to apply suitable approaches and concepts to build enduring business models to further develop and scale their solutions in the Blue Economy sector. In addition, your team will learn how to put together and deliver a pitch deck in line with best practices and storytelling approaches.