At the beginning of September, the residential sessions of the "Innovation and Commercialization" training course engaging professors of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and National University of Singapore – Eugene Fitzgerald and Andreas Wankerl hosted in St. Petersburg at the premises of the ITMO university. The program arranged by the ITMO university jointly with the Russian Venture Company (RVC), has started on July 19 and will take 13 weeks of distance learning.
Executives and representatives of the technology companies, entrepreneurs, students and postgraduate students from the Russian higher education institutions from 14 regions came to the face-to-face sessions with the course lecturers. Program participants got a unique opportunity to communicate in person with the experts having great experience in innovation management: from development of the innovative products to implementing them on a market. Professor of material science and engineering Fitzgerald is known as one of the leading scientists in the RnD center of Bell Labs where he managed creation of many technological solutions in the sphere of semiconductors used in current microelectronics. MIT Professor Wankerl is engaged in consulting related to development and enforcement of the innovation projects on the corporate and university level.
On the first day of the residential sessions, Eugene Fitzgerald gave a lecture to the master's students of technology management and innovation faculty of the ITMO University and training program participants.
“If you think that you can build power stations better than the others and decide to start building them, this is not an innovation; this is a production of what is already known”, told the lecturer. – “Innovation activity is implementation of a new and useful idea and its introduction to the market. May be you heard stories of American start-ups that were sold at high prices right after they appeared. But such start-ups are not always innovative; to make them innovative you need to focus not only on business activity. It's necessary to make business produce a new product, render profit, create new working places and have unique value for the public”.
During the face-to-face communication, the program participants presented to the experts their innovative projects they worked over for the past six weeks. Projects from the very different areas were presented: from robotics to development of new interfaces. Some projects have been already launched and got first sales, the rest of them are just ideas expected for implementation. However, regardless of the development stage, most projects are aimed at new high-tech markets. The course trainers analyzed potential capacity of the projects in terms of further commercialization, made some recommendations related to their improvement. The most promising projects which authors will undertake an internship in Singapore will be determined at the end of the training.
According to Eugene Fitzgerald, one of the key advantages of Russia against other countries is in great resources – starting from natural and ending with human resources. "Some countries feel lack of skilled workers in innovation area, they can be low qualified. There are many educated specialists and universities training them in Russia", remarks MIT Professor – “Special educational programs are necessary to maintain the innovation process, but these are just details: some countries have such demographic status that there are not enough young people for the creation and implementation of innovations. Russia shouldn't worry about the resources".
Deputy General Director of RVC Evgeny Kuznetsov is confident that now it's very important to grow innovation production enterprises that can lead the country to a new economic level.
"For a long time, the following idea prevailed: innovation is a very interesting sphere of activity but it is not related to the country life at all. The further, the more people understood that the deep internal reconstruction of economics is required, and this is innovation itself – nation-wide innovation," considers Eugene Kuznetsov. – “It's necessary to change economic sectors structure, structure of the products we produce, it's necessary to introduce a new high-quality product not only to the local market, but to the global market as well. And this is impossible without the thing that everyone calls innovation."
RVC OJSC is a state fund of funds, development institution of the Russian Federation, and one of the key tools of the state in creating national innovation system. RVC’s authorized capital – RUB 30 011 320 700 (about US$ 445 mln.) – is 100% owned by the Federal Agency for State Property Management (Rosimuschestvo). All in all, RVC has backed 21 funds (including 2 funds in under a foreign jurisdiction) to a total capitalization of RUB 29,1 bln i.e. about US$ 432 mln., its share amounting to RUB 18,5 bln i.e. about US$ 275 mln. As on 2015, RVC backed funds run a portfolio of 176 companies, invested capital totaling more than RUB 17 bln i.e. about US$ 251 mln.