“Enhancing university research and entrepreneurial capacity”: “EURECA-2” program news

On April 5, 2013, the US-Russia Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law (USRF) hosted a meeting of the participants of the new phase of the “EURECA” program (a.k.a. “Enhancing university research and entrepreneurial capacity” or “EURECA-2”). The meeting was attended by the USRF executives, representatives of the Nizhniy Novgorod State University, St. Petersburg State University of Information Technologies, Mechanics, and Optics (a.k.a. “ITMO”), the American Councils for International Education, and the New Eurasia Foundation.

Each of the organizations involved in the program presented the concepts of their respective projects approved by the USRF Board of Directors. The meeting participants discussed collaborative activities to be undertaken in order to integrate all those projects under the common auspices of the “EURECA-2” program that will be implemented over the period of 2013-2016.
The projects designed by the Nizhniy Novgorod State University and the St. Petersburg State University of Information Technologies, Mechanics, and Optics (a.k.a. “ITMO”) that acted in the capacity of the pilot universities of the program are designed to disseminate the outcomes of their projects implemented in 2010 – 2012.
The project designed by the Nizhniy Novgorod State University was presented by the First Vice-Rector, Professor A. O. Grudzinsky. NNSU plans to continue its own development as a market-oriented entrepreneurial university, maintain and strengthen its fruitful partnerships with some of the leading US universities, and replicate its know-how at other Russian research universities. The Perm Polytechnic University will be the pilot institution of higher learning to adopt and comprehensively reproduce the project outcomes achieved by the Nizhniy Novgorod State University. The Nizhniy Novgorod State University will also continue collaborating with the University of Maryland and Purdue University (USA).
The ITMO Vice-Rector for Innovations, N. R. Toivonen, presented the project designed by his institution of higher learning with the view to ensure dissemination of the outcomes of its pilot projects and create a system of commercialization of university research in the Russian regions with participation of external partners that helps generate and expand a stream of “start-ups”. It is anticipated that some of the project activities will be implemented in the city of Samara and Republic of Mordovia in partnership with the University of California in Los Angeles and Higher School of Economics.

Nargis Valamat-Zade, the Director of Education Programs of the New Eurasia Foundation, presented the “EURECA-2” implementation concept for the period of 2013 - 2016 pursuant to which the program will support entrepreneurial activities of Russian universities by actively engaging regional governments and improving the economic efficiency and competitiveness of the subjects of territorial innovation clusters. The “EURECA-2” program will be implemented by a consortium consisting of the New Eurasia Foundation, Association of Innovative Russian Regions (AIRR), its key partner, and the pilot participants represented by the following institutions of higher learning: MIFI, Siberian Federal University, Ural Federal University, Tomsk Polytechnic University, Kazan Technological University, St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, and Perm Polytechnic University. The New Eurasia Foundation acts as the system integrator of the program and will implement several of its principal components. The education component will entail basic training sessions (for participants of regional clusters, to be hosted by the participating universities) on development strategies of territorial innovation clusters, institutions of higher learning as cluster participants, interdepartmental teams within clusters, as well as crosscutting training sessions on development of entrepreneurial institutions of higher learning in an innovative region. The consulting component will attract some of the leading Russian and international experts and the pilot universities of the pilot phase of the program and support education within the framework of basic and crosscutting training sessions, as well as development and implementation of the pilot projects by the participating institutions of higher learning in partnership with some of the leading US universities thereby helping to identify in a prompt and efficient fashion replicable models for further dissemination. The New Eurasia Foundation will also implement the networking component tested in the course of the previous phase of the program. This component will include seminars, conferences, forums, international study tours, competitions of projects/start-ups, regional presentations, and thematic sessions designed to expand the network of program participants, stakeholders, and partners. The pilot projects of the participating institutions of higher learning will be implemented in collaboration with some of the leading US universities. The seven universities from among the consortium members will create centers for support of entrepreneurship, engineering centers, and similar entities with the view to strengthen their roles as entrepreneurship, education, and resource centers operating within their respective territorial innovation clusters, as well as to test mechanisms designed to introduce the outcomes of university research into the real economy sector. Finally, the New Eurasia Foundation will provide information support entailing the bilingual “EURECA” program website linked to the websites of the pilot participants and their partners, as well as collaboration with the Russian and American academic communities, private foundations, business associations, venture investors, and regional and local governments.

Ann Domorad, Director of Program Administration for Eurasia of the American Councils for International Education, presented her organization’s vision of the support her organization will provide to other components of the “EURECA” program with the view to promote international partnerships in regional development and commercialization of research.

The meeting participants also discussed various work plans and immediate steps to be taken under each of the university projects, in particular, and the “EURECA-2” program, in general. Finally, they discussed and agreed upon specific formats of collaboration among all the program participants over the course of the next three years.


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