Technological entrepreneurship to exist!August 1, 2018
No wonder there is a very strong correlation between education and skills and the uptake and economic development, especially technological entrepreneurship and the use of technologies in various spheres of life. The role of education and skills in promoting innovation entrepreneurship is critical. The impact of innovating education and educating for innovation on technologies has not been shallow but enhanced being the future motor of development. The leading Russian universities participating in Project 5-100Universities are developing the entrepreneurial mindset of students majoring in engineering and science by gradually introducing monetary and non-monetary incentives for fostering research and development
In 2018 the most successful experiences in developing students' competences , which are modern, sought-after and unique, and combine high technology with the production of economic models for business are due to be adopted by other Russian universities. In recent years, the largest Russian universities have implemented educational programs and provided training courses aimed at developing entrepreneurial competencies of students. Cooperation with business is being promoted. Special projects have been launched to change and empower the related university education environment with launching ‘basic departments’, entrepreneurship centers, business incubators and accelerators. Unfortunately, the impact of these improvements on innovation has not been considerable so far, partly because some of the components crucially important for this development, such as publications, patent applications, investment and innovative products still lag behind, and partly because this is not widespread practice and is not available in all universities.
Experts often emphasize that the absence of support teams capable of commercializing innovations and products designed in academia is a drawback for many universities. According to the national report, “On Innovations in Russia” (prepared by RVC in cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Development, Open Government Partnership experts and the leading think tanks), major hindrances to the development of technological entrepreneurship include a small number of people who are ready to undertake risks related to entrepreneurship in technology, and a low level of commercialized scientific developments.
According to RVC experts, young people under 35 are the most active in terms of establishing startups. The same experts note that, in recent years, the number of projects has stabilized, although there is still some room for qualitative improvement. To deal with this issue, RVC, the Faculty of Economics of Lomonosov Moscow State University, and ITMO University - participating in Project 5-100 - have developed a special course entitled: "Innovative Economics and Technological Entrepreneurship". This practical course includes studying the development of high-tech products or services, the transfer of technology and licensing, establishing a startup and R&D commercialization, and methods for forming a project team and a plan for putting the high-tech product on the market. Currently, over 30 Russian universities have included the course in their curricula for the academic year 2018/2019. It is expected that by 2020 there will be 100 such universities, and that about 50,000 students will take the course. Most universities participating in the Russian Academic Excellence Project (Project 5-100) will also run this course. These universities include NRNU MEPhI, the Samara University, ITMO University, Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, Lobachevsky State University of Nizhni Novgorod, the Tomsk State University, and the Tomsk Polytechnic University.
At the same time, Project 5-100 universities have made an effort to promote innovative developments and put them on the market, and to develop the entrepreneurial mindset of students majoring in engineering and science, which is important for ensuring that graduates meet the requirements of today's labor market. The universities have worked on this for more than one year. Students learn the basics of commercial R&D, the transfer of technology and licensing, and how to establish a startup, market innovations, design thinking and business planning, manage the life cycle of science-intensive products and develop options for commercialization of the proposed results themselves. The universities participating in the Project will train and educate the next generation of professionals who are ready to take a step forward and have the motivation for gaining new knowledge. An engineer usually lacks knowledge of economics, management and marketing, but he or she needs common ground with, and understanding of, the nature of a potential partner's business in order to communicate with business people and the representatives of high-tech companies. Project 5-100 universities are creating just such " new generation graduates".
Thesis defense in the form of startups, which is a new principle in Russian education, has also become one of the flagship projects implemented by several leading universities. The first Master's thesis was defended in this format at ITMO University in 2012. In 2017 this approach was adopted by the Far Eastern Federal University and Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University. The "RUSNANO" Department of Technological Entrepreneurship at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), which is the first of its kind in Russia, was established in 2013. This is another new format suggested by Project 5-100 universities, and MIPT, NUST MISIS and NRNU MEPhI are pioneers in this sphere. The combination of a master's degree program and working on a real project in an innovative company is already implemented at MIPT and is being successfully developed as part of the inter-university program for training engineers in the sphere of high technology. Thus, being officially employed, students are actively involved in developing new technology products. However, educational technologies are still developing, and in 2017 MIPT already launched the first master's degree program on Technological Entrepreneurship online. The online master's degree program, based on the model of the "RUSNANO" Department of Technological Entrepreneurship at MIPT, allows knowledge gains in the sphere of designing high-tech products, developing them and putting them on the market, as well as the implementation of a student's own business project under the supervision of an experienced tutor and mentor of the program. The Innovative Entrepreneurship program at the Lobachevsky State University of Nizhni Novgorod allows students to work on real university business projects and on their own high-tech projects in Russia. They can choose one of three options: join a team in a small innovative company and gain work experience in marketing, financial and business planning, preparing and filing applications for various grants; start working with a research team "from scratch" and deal with issues which are more common to the scientific community, but with an inclination towards entrepreneurship; or launch their own high-tech project.
Project 5-100 universities are also launching and implementing special technological entrepreneurship programs in the sphere of innovation and advanced production technologies. In 2018, master's degree students at Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University were given an opportunity either to develop their own startups or to join existing projects in large companies in the sphere of technology. On August 1, the university launched the international Technology Leadership and Entrepreneurship master's degree program on advanced production technologies. According to experts, its advantages include a high level of visiting Russian and foreign professors, trainers, angel investors and visiting lecturers, internships in leading technology companies, and individual training programs. Thus, students can choose the most suitable educational track in the English language: technological entrepreneurship (including the acceleration program), or intrapreneurship. The Novosibirsk State University (NSU) implements programs for developing technological entrepreneurship in biotechnology, and the Tomsk Polytechnic University provides training for entrepreneurs in machine building.
However, leading Russian universities offer a comprehensive approach to tackling relevant issues in the Russian innovation ecosystem, working on bottom-up solutions including the involvement of both school children and students in entrepreneurship, and the development of relevant legislation on technological entrepreneurship. Currently, experts from the work group for involvement of students and school children in entrepreneurship suggest making technological entrepreneurship popular at universities, developing common methods in this area, and amending the legislation to facilitate the creation of startups at universities; they also suggest that universities should support not only the professional and personal development of students, but also their ambitions in business. The group was formed in 2017 by the Expert Council on the Development of Civil Education and Student Socialization under the State Duma Committee for Education and Science. Group participants also include representatives of four Project 5-100 universities: HSE, MIPT, ITMO University and UrFu.