In the next two years, innovative ecosystem development units – technology transfer centers – will be formed at leading Russian universities. Universities that have already begun work in this direction include Korolev SSAU, Lobachevsky UNN, St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, NUST MIS&S, and St. Petersburg ITMO University. The introduction of the new technology transfer model will enhance commercialization of university developments and the proportion of non-budgetary sources in financing educational institutions. The model was developed by RVC and business incubator "Ingria" as part of the project on development of innovation ecosystems in universities and research centers in Russia.
The research of shortcomings of the existing innovation ecosystem of Russian universities and proposed business model of effective technology transfer were presented at the first practical forum for technology transfer. The forum was held in conjunction with the RVC business incubator "Ingria," NUST MIS&S, and the Project Office of the Program for Improvement of International Competitiveness of Russian Universities "5-100."
The proposed model was the result of a comparison of the Russian and international experience made in September-November 2014. It was found that many countries with developed innovation ecosystem tend to decrease public funding and development of cooperation with the business community. According to the research, the countries with the highest proportion of R&D expenditure in relation to GDP take more funds from industry rather than from the state. In such a system, expansion of the interaction network and commercialization of innovation is one of the key objectives in development of the innovation ecosystem in an university.
Technology transfer centers will be responsible for expanding the portfolio of orders from private companies for research and development activities, attracting investment in university start-ups, registering intellectual property rights, and sale of licenses and patents to industry enterprises.
The main task of the centers will be to bring the universities' innovative proposals to the needs of industry and venture capital investors. According to the presented model, the staff of each of the structures will be 6 experts initially, and their number may grow up to 20 people over time. The basis of the teams should be formed by professionals in working with industry, venture capitalists, faculty members, students, and researchers, as well as lawyers responsible for transactions and protection of intellectual property.
'Establishment of technology transfer centers play an important role for universities seeking to get to the top of world rankings, as co-financing from extra-budgetary resources brought by universities is one of the prerequisites for state support under the 5-100 project, and one of the criteria in assessment by international university rankings,' said Yevgeny Kuznetsov, Deputy CEO and Director of RVC's Project Office.
Technology transfer centers are designed to solve the key problem of Russian universities - as of today, less than 5% of developments by their researchers reach the stage of implementation in the industry, while the educational institutions are more than 90% state-funded.
According to the research, the reason for this situation is the lack of effective communication and collaboration between universities, industry, and venture capital investors. In addition, the Russian universities and research centers have no continuous idea-assets-implementation chain.
'Unlike their foreign colleagues, employees of Russian universities and research centers are focused on scientific publications, presentations at conferences, and do not take into account the real needs of the industry. In turn, companies are not receptive to innovation, and venture capital investors are too careful about start-ups based in universities,' says Igor Rozhdestvensky, Director of the St. Petersburg business incubator "Ingria."
The model designed by RVC and "Ingria" consists of standard organizational structure and job descriptions, recommendations on organization of business processes, regulatory framework, and template documents, educational programs and materials for staff training and skill development in universities. The model has passed an expert discussion among universities, industry enterprises, and venture capital investors to prepare recommendations from the Ministry of Education and Science for its use in all the Russian universities.
Several universities have already signed agreements on implementation of the model in the next two years. They include the Novgorod State University, Togliatti State University, St. Petersburg State Mining University, Samara State University, Perm State University, Tver State University, SPSUACE, NKFU, Tomsk Polytechnic University, and others.