How can rookie FRC teams from CIS states find contacts in huge International American companies?

I discovered this forum for myself a few days ago and during this time I realized that there is a very close-knit community that is always ready to help. As I mentioned in previous posts, we are the first Ukrainian FRC team and from the first day we felt really alone. The nearest team was 1000 miles away from us and most of the team didn’t speak English well. As a result, it was very difficult for us to get experience and knowledge to participate.

A particularly big problem for us was and still is the problem of finding finances, since Ukraine has a very difficult economic and political situation and at the moment Ukraine is the poorest country in Europe. Local companies don’t have enough resources to spend them on the development of robotics, so international support is very important for us. Parallel to this, we are creating new teams on the territory of Ukraine and the countries of the former USSR, and in the future they will face the same problems.

Therefore, it is very important for us and our teams to get support the international American companies that are interested in the development of STEM education in the CIS countries. Last year we wrote letters to some of the American companies, but unfortunately we haven’t got a response. For this we need direct contacts of the employees of these companies, who are engaged in grants and sponsorship. I would like to ask you if you know such people? Are there any employees of such large international companies among you? Can someone help us in such a difficult process?

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I mean I don’t think I need to tell you that the whole world is in a difficult economic situation right now, but obviously that’s gonna hinder your funding. Did you try contacting large corporations or smaller companies when you wrote letters? Even for US teams, getting sponsored by an Apple, Google, Lockheed Martin, etc is very difficult and usually requires some kind of in road with said company (at least in FIM, with companies like GM and Ford pretty much only sponsoring teams in the Detroit suburbs).

In addition, I would try reaching out to other European companies, but this may be misguided advice, as my knowledge of the language barriers and financial barriers is limited for inter-Europe communication.

On that same note, I would look into the financial complications that may arise from an International company donating money and see if there are any tax breaks that they can claim as a way to persuade them to sponsor you.

One thing that I always bring up when meeting with sponsors is that we are bringing up the next generation of their workforce, so that could be a big talking point for you guys when talking to more local companies, given that they could sponsor you guys as a sort of investment in the future of their company. Granted, this probably won’t go as well for American companies, but might work a little better on other European companies.

Hope at least some of this pieced-together advice can be helpful and PM or respond to me with any other questions or ways I can help.

I might try looking into contacting Ukranian branches of US companies that tend to sponsor FRC teams. For example, there’s a branch of John Deere located in your city, Kyiv. According to their grant terms you may be eligable for their sponsorship.

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There are some really great success stories of teams from economically and politically challenged areas succeeding. You can make do with surprisingly less than most teams spend, especially if for your first year or two, you don’t go to actual competitions. That way, you can save money on registration fees and travel. I’d take a look at stories from the all girls team in Afghanistan, programs in Ghana, and some others. Also take a look at 1000.spectrum3847.org and 10000.spectrum3847.org to help understand what you might want to invest in with a very limited budget.

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One thing you can do is to put up a gofundme.com page and let us know. You should be able to pick up some amount of funding this way. For things like airfare, try reaching out to airlines – sometimes it’s easier to get discounts or donated services than cash. Fundraising can be pretty hard, but your team probably has a good story and is interesting because it is a first. Good luck!