11 Nov '14
Six innovative start-ups from two major Russian regional research universities have been receiving training in tech commercialization at the University of Maryland's Technology Accelerator Program, as part of initiatives adopted for the U.S.-Russian Innovation Corridor (USRIC), and last Friday met a number of potential partners and/or investors in Washington, DC.
The delegation of start-ups now working out their commercialization strategies in the U.S. includes companies from the Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod (UNN), in the mid-Volga area, and the Perm Polytechnic University (PNRPU), in the West Urals. Projects they develop vary from new narcotic and pharmaceutical testing techniques to mobile cardiac testing and diagnostic equipment, to a training simulator for cargo-handling machinery, to a platform to assess linguistic competencies through tracking eye movements.
The high-level Friday meeting was held in the format of a breakfast briefing at the US-Russia Business Council (USRBC) Conference Center in DC. The start-ups were joined by the rector and the key vice rectors of Lobachevsky UNN, the leading partner in this academic duet and a participant of the US-Russia Foundation’s EURECA program. Other participants in the meeting included Blacklin Associates, a U.S. company cooperating with UNN in preparing roadmaps for commercialization, as well as the top officials from the Russian Federation Trade Representation to the U.S.
Organized in an effort to support Russian university innovators who expect the U.S.-based training to help them prepare for their global roll-out, the event brought together representatives of as many as 20 of USRBC’s corporate members; and with live web broadcast the discussion was made accessible for many more.
The start-ups each presented their projects in a verbal summary, and the UNN leadership backed the young innovators with their supportive comments. UNN Vice Rector for Innovation Kendrick White and Proof-of-Concept Center Director Alexey Rubtsov gave the guests a detailed overview of UNN’s Technology Commercialization Center (TCC) and its efforts in packaging innovation ideas, protecting intellectual property, and building a venture mentoring network. Rector Evgeny Chuprunov spoke about Russia’s 5/100 program, a nationwide initiative aimed at boosting Russian academia’s competitiveness in the global university arena, and about the Nizhny university’s strengths in fundamental sciences.
Commenting on the course and results of the meeting in DC, Mr. White said that all those present had shown “strong interest” in both the start-up projects and UNN as a “very progressive university leader in Russia.” The participants were keen to learn more of “our approach to IP protection, transparency, and willingness to work with industry,” the UNN vice rector underscored. The U.S. partners talked about the importance of continuing long-term relations with Russia, pointing out that “academia relations are now more important than ever to develop and maintain,” he said.
Scott Blacklin of Blacklin Associates sent the association members a clear message, explaining why now was the time to develop their relations with Russian universities, a huge innovative community which has been reaching out to the world, with UNN ahead of the pack.
The whole event was broadcast to all USRBC members across the U.S.
Recent Russian government initiatives to support start-ups are beginning to have a visible effect on the growth of innovative projects and entrepreneurship in Russia. Russia now has 29 national research universities, and commercialization centers like the one at Nizhny Novgorod, which the briefing participants recognized as a leader in Russian innovation.