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Interaction of Universities and Business Was Discussed at the Gaidar Forum in 2018

17.01.2018
Interaction of Universities and Business Was Discussed at the Gaidar Forum in 2018

Representatives of development institutions, corporations and businesses discussed the necessary steps to effectively transform the interaction between universities and businesses during the panel discussion "Leading Companies and Universities: Tasks and Ideas for Technological Breakthrough", which took place on January 16 as part of Gaidar Forum 2018: "Russia and the World: Goals and Values."

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Andrey Volkov, a scientific leader of the Moscow School of Management Skolkovo, acted as discussion moderator. The persons as follows took part in the discussion: Elena Bunina, General Director of Yandex, Pavel Ershov, Operations Director at Microsoft Russia, Alexander Povalko, General Director of RVC, Dmitry Pumpyansky, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Pipe Metallurgical Company and Yaroslav Kuzminov, Rector of the National Research University Higher School of Economics.

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By opening the discussion, Andrey Volkov noted that due to a rapid transformation of Russian universities, they are now, from the training paradigm, trying to become research and R & D entities, carrying out the three missions of the university: development, research and training of specialists with advanced skills.

"At the same time, we hear all the time that training of people for the advanced technology sector at universities is rather poor and unsatisfactory. These contradictory judgments have little sense. Therefore, today it is important to understand what is that universities must change and under what conditions business would be willing to cooperate with them more intensely," added Andrey Volkov.

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General Director of Yandex Elena Bunina said that the company has already gained a lot of positive experience while cooperating with universities.

"10 years ago we started working with MIPT because it had an established system of basic departments. Afterwards we began to work with the Higher School of Economics, which resulted in the opening of the Computer Science Department, which has been working for 4 years now. We have also opened scientific laboratories at the premises of the Higher School of Economics, within which we hire people at Yandex. Similar things are happening at St. Petersburg State University," explained Elena Bunina.

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Pavel Ershov, Microsoft Russia's Chief Operating Officer, noted that Microsoft, being a global company, does not perceive any particular university as a partner for one task since the company making an IT platform must cooperate with the education system and develop the market on the whole.

"Interaction with universities can be in the line of increasing effectiveness of the university and the level of work within the ecosystem, as well as in terms of new research projects. We have been cooperating with MSU for a long time, where a number of projects have already been brought to the stage of commercialisation in specific corporations," said Pavel Ershov.

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According to Dmitry Pumpyansky, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Pipe Metallurgical Company, if we are talking about engineering education for traditional industries, then the specialists of Russian technical universities today meet the challenges that industry set for them. Another situation in the field of scientific and technical cooperation, where universities are now lagging behind in terms of commercialisation and in the field of market approach to their developments.

"Using UrFU (Ural federal university) as an example, we are creating an eco-environment in the region, but this is not enough since the mentality of university researchers has not changed, and problems put are not commercially replicated. Our company has several scientific centres in the regions, in other countries. We also have many peripheral topics in which universities could participate, but today they lack a quick response to this," added Dmitry Pumpyansky.

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In his speech, General Director of RVC Alexander Povalko told about the program of creation and development of NTI Centres on the basis of universities and scientific organizations, the operator of which is RVC. At the end of 2017, as a result of competitive selection, the first six centres were identified, which will be allocated funds for integrated research, development, design and experimental projects.

"In this competition, we were striving to combine three important components: scientists, teachers and companies. One of the ideas behind the competition is to erase boundaries between companies and universities since we would not get effective interaction without it. Business is still quite closed or universities do not know how to “read” existing needs," said Alexander Povalko. He also stressed that "the history of grants and NTI centres is pretty simple — for the first couple of years, the corresponding funding will be allocated to universities, but afterwards they need to reach the 1:1 level and learn how to sell what they did."

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Rector of the Higher School of Economics, Yaroslav Kuzminov, in his speech highlighted several models of interaction between a university and a corporate customer: the first one is an order model, the second one is an exclusive partnership, and the third one is cooperation in solving industry-wide issues.

"We have serious external limitations in relation to the problem of business and university: low willingness of Russian business to invest in R & D. At the same time, there is still a certain problem — if you are engaged in adaptation, you go to places where it is easier and cheaper to buy, where this platform already exists, more often it is not in Russia. We need to look for ways to resolve this situation," added Yaroslav Kuzminov.

The Gaidar Forum annually acts as a unique intellectual platform, uniting theorists and practitioners, leading world scientists and politicians, representatives of higher financial circles and global business elite. The Forum was organized by the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration under the President of the Russian Federation, the Institute for Economic Policy named after E.T. Gaidar and the Association of Innovative Regions of Russia (AIRR). Partner of the event is RVC.



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