Universities Are their Own Bosses

Evgeny Kuznetsov, CEO of Russian Venture Company, came to ITMO University to present National Technology Initiative. The expert commented on the interaction of modern universities and innovative manufacturing as well as announced new challenges faced by Russian higher education.

Please share the results achieved through National Technology Initiative.

We have been developing this project for a year and three months but this period was extremely effective. Firstly, there were developed several “roadmaps;” some of goals set by them have been successfully reached. Secondly, it is easier now to do something new because the governmental system of decision making has become more open. Taking into account the difficulties existing in this field the development of Russian technological innovations makes great strides. Thus Modernization Council has approved four road maps, currently it is ready to approve three ones and prepare six roadmaps.

What about involvement of universities in this process?

Some universities are very active – their representatives join executive committees, assist in developing roadmaps and implement them. For example, ITMO University collaborates with SafeNet project, Moscow State University takes part into the initiatives of NeuroNet  and so forth. To get in contact with universities we develop various educational tracks. Currently it is very hard to predict what universities will become our partners but I know that many of them are ready to adopt studying programs to the purposes of National Technology Initiative and make new programs.

Unfortunately there are also those universities that base on principles of industrial economy; it means that while making teaching plans they are governed by purposes of the industry. However due to constant business competition worlds` top companies can set short-term goals and plan only for the next year. That is why universities don`t have to expect that industry knows how many expert does it need and plan for themselves as well as analyze workforce productivity. All these skills turn a university into an effective consulting company, which makes exact predictions. Fortunately modern universities succeed in these activities.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, CEO of Russian Venture Company

Is there any correlation between active participation into the Initiative and involvement into 5-100 Project?

 5-100 participants got used to being dynamic and client-oriented. That is why those who don`t take part in 5-100 are not so ambitious. It doesn`t mean that they provide bad education but it points out their behavior. They don`t aspire for collaboration that is impossible today when the society and economy are in constant communication.

Thus the participants of 5-100 program are acknowledged to be a bright example? How do they can help other ones?

I think that they will be the first institutions offering the best educational services. Modern universities are not only providers of education, so I don`t like the typical meaning of this word. Currently universities initiate promising research activities, entrepreneurial and innovative projects. Thus 5-100 participants who at the same time collaborate with Russian Venture Company follow this trend. These universities develop accelerator programs, analyze the market and offer new solutions. To succeed means that one don`t look forward guidelines from the Ministry of Education because it usually takes much more time.

We often discuss the necessity of developing new occupations at universities to help future specialists become flexible and mobile. For example, there are some new fields as neuro science. To become an expert in this area a student has to receive competencies in biology, neurophysiology, linguistics, psychology, sociology and information technologies. This studying program can be developed only by a igh-ranked modern university or an alliance of universities. Thus it is impossible to make it using facilities of one chair of department because none of these disciplines can be taught badly. I think that one should make a module program, which will give an opportunity to prepare unique courses and transform them taking into account new conditions. Now it is a great challenge for many Russian technical universities.

To launch modern  tech initiatives in the future we have to contribute to development of children who will provide these activities. How can we do that?

The thing that I am talking about is not popular in Russia like abroad. Today the idea of science museums and interactive research centers for youth is very relevant. However some centers have been already opened in Russia too. For instance, a project called “Kadabra” for teaching how to code games or the idea of St. Petersburg company JetBrains, which promoted bioinformatics, a new field combining IT and genomics.

The experts of National Technology Initiative develop a specific roadmap for supporting educational centers for children. After the meetings and discussions we are going to launch pilot projects approximately in autumn. We have some difficulties caused by the economic crisis but at the same time we realize that many of such projects are supported by non-governmental organizations and individuals.  

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