Government fund of funds
Development institute of the Russian Federation


Russian corporations will invest more in research and development of domestic universities


As part of the business program of the Open Innovations Forum, RVC held a session “Involving universities in developing products and technologies demanded by the market”. The experts discussed which format of interaction with universities is most interesting for business, how to organize technology transfer from research organizations to promising markets and how to prepare leaders for the development of new technologies.

According to the participants of the session, currently, in Russia there is a need to strengthen cooperation between scientific organizations and business. The state, the scientific and entrepreneurial community are looking for new optimal interaction options for the effective introduction of scientific research into the markets.

Over the past 10 years, advances in this direction have occurred, said Oleg Movsesyan, the general director of the MSU science park. According to him, the state is now encouraging universities to engage not only in basic science but also to find partners and create popular products.

"This is the allocation of grants, and the financing of universities by the Russian Science Foundation provided that an industrial partner is found. Thanks to the sanctions! From now on even large companies have turned to the universities. This reciprocal movement towards one another gives the result. We now have two National Competency Initiatives Competence Centres at Moscow State University, and we cooperate with many companies,” said Oleg Movsesian.

According to the expert, acceleration programs at higher educational institutions also contribute to the interaction with business and encouraging scientists to participate in commercial projects. So the accelerator of Moscow State University annually receives 500 participants — graduate students and young scientists who want to start their own business.

“If 15 years ago we helped them to develop their idea and learn from their own mistakes, then three years ago they began to actively involve small and medium-sized fast-growing companies in the work of the accelerator, and orient the children to partner cooperation,” continues Oleg Movsesian. — This year, we are already launching projects with large market participants: Sberbank, Gazpromneft, Rosneft and many others. By the way, unlike small companies, which often lack funds for investments in perennial R&D, and which want to get development right now, medium and large players are ready to invest in the future and become drivers of innovation development.”

Nevertheless, to attract attention from the business, the university must take reciprocal steps, say the session participants. Russian universities still have to learn how to work with corporations, including international ones. Moreover, it is very important to form a base of real examples of successful implementation of developments on this path.

Corporations really “turned around” to universities, and today it is important to maintain this interest, says Mikhail Filonov, Vice-Rector for Science and Innovations, NITU “MISiS”:

“We have about 500 contracts with companies, of which 350 finance the business. There are major players, like Severstal, with excellent orders. What are we interested in for business? First, qualification and I hope, flawless execution of contractual obligations. Responsibility strengthens the confidence of the parties — this is a very important factor in building business relationships. The leadership of universities should keep this in mind.”

An obstacle to the development of partnerships between universities and industrial companies is often the lack of a unified position at the university on the form of such cooperation, said MTS Innovation Centre Project Manager Maksim Gashkov.

"The coherence and consistency of positions at all levels of university management are very important here. Very often, the professor's desire for innovations does not coincide with the strategy of the university or the strategy does not find support from professors. As a result, the technology company comes to the university and does not know with whom to interact. All this can result in several months of negotiations and not end in anything. When people in one organization learn to come out as a united front in communication with industrial partners, there will be sufficient progress," the expert believes.

According to the panellists, one of the most promising ways to involve universities in commercial scientific research is to stimulate the creation of university centres for applied research in breakthrough technologies.

In Russia, for these purposes, a network of specialized Competence Centres of the National Technology Initiative has been established on the basis of Russian universities and scientific organizations. The centres conduct research and educational activities in the field of "through-technology NTI in a consortium with the largest technology companies. In total, 14 NTI Competence Centres were selected; RVC provides support and monitoring of the centres’ activities.

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