A lot of work needs to be done to transform cutting-edge scientific research into technologies ready for implementation. Scientists themselves are not always capable of this, if only because they do not know many features of production or business processes. And engineers in companies that are precisely engaged in adapting technologies to reality may not be aware of scientific developments' intricacies. It's a good idea to join forces. This was done in Russia. In 2017, the creation of competence centers of the National Technology Initiative began. This is a network of engineering and educational consortia based on Russian universities and scientific organizations engaged in the development of “end-to-end” technologies.
The NTI competence centers' main tasks are the translation of the results of fundamental science in technology in the interests of specific industrial partners, the formation of a stable link between the academic sphere and industry, the training of qualified personnel for innovative business. In total, 14 such centers have been created that work in big data, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, new and portable energy sources, wireless communication technologies, virtual and augmented reality technologies, and others. Until 2021, state funding for NTI competence centers is provided for 10.3 billion roubles.
On behalf of the government, Russian Venture Company is responsible for monitoring and supporting the centers' activities.
Arsen Gareev, director of the NTI technological development center at RVC, told Indicator.ru how it all works:
Close cooperation of research teams and business customers in NTI competence centers makes it possible to shorten the commercialization of breakthrough developments several times. For example, the Institute of Problems of Chemical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Chernogolovka near Moscow and the InEnergy company are jointly developing hydrogen energy sources. The institute carries out the primary research; a private company, which sells them further, for example, to drone manufacturers, who in turn put these elements on specific products, already produces the fuel cells themselves.
In two or three years, it is expected that several projects at once, which are conducted by the NTI competence centers, will be ready to enter the market. In particular, this is a project of the St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute — we are talking about an installation for producing metal-powder compositions that can be used as raw materials for 3D printing.
Or a project with a social focus and an international team at FEFU. This is a rehabilitation complex using virtual, augmented reality technologies implemented in a Tesla Suit with two-way communication. This suit and VR software will help people with stroke rehabilitation.
According to Arsen Gareev, the goal is to build a viable long-term program, which will continue to exist after completing the stage of state support.
Arsen Gareev, director of the NTI technological development management center at RVC, also shared his opinion on the prospects for NTI competence centers to become self-sufficient:
In 2019, the NTI competence centers' revenues from the provision of research and development services, the implementation of paid educational services, expert analytical and consulting activities amounted to almost 4 billion roubles. At the same time, co-financing of the centers' activities from extra-budgetary sources amSimultaneouslyhan 1.9 billion roubles.
The number of consortium members has grown by more than 40%. They include 470 organizations, more than half of which are commercial organizations, including Sberbank, MTS, Rosatom, Gazprom Neft, and others. At the end of 2019, the centers' portfolios include 200 research projects. More than 150 are underway, and 41 projects have been completed.
More than 10 thousand specialists were trained in educational programs in the field of end-to-end technologies. In total, 34 new basic educational programs and 80 programs of additional professional education were developed.