In an effort to become more competitive globally, Russian universities are attempting to reinvent themselves as new hubs of innovation and entrepreneurship. In this report, we take a closer look at what needs to be done to complete the transformation of the Russian university system.
The report examines the role of the modern university using the framework of University 3.0, a paradigm for innovation and entrepreneurship developed by Russia’s National Technology Initiative (NTI). First and foremost, Russian universities need to re-think the link between teaching and research. For too long, these functions have been separated, and that’s led to an inability to commercialize new academic innovations, or to inspire students to launch new startups.
Based on the real-world experience of Russian educational institutions that are at the forefront of the University 3.0 trend, the report analyzes some of the specific changes that need to be made – such as the introduction of a formal technology transfer office within each university – to encourage more partnerships between business and academia.
Of course, creating the modern University 3.0 is harder than it sounds. For more than a decade, Russian university administrators have struggled with ways to make their institutions more competitive globally, especially via international rankings. However, aside from a few highlights – such as the creation of Skolkovo as a new innovation hub – the Russian economy has proved frustratingly resilient to change.
Yet, it’s clear that the ability to unlock all of the remarkable intellectual property (IP) within Russian academic institutions and encourage young Russian millennials to launch new startups could have important implications for the future growth of the nation’s economy. The University 3.0 model could be the key to diversifying the economy away from oil and gas, and creating entirely new (and futuristic) industries in fields ranging from robotics to 3D printing. Rather than just supporting and complementing business, universities could become the new engine of innovation driving Russia’s technological development.
The authors of the report are Deputy Director of the Russian Venture Company Evgeny Kuznetsov, U.S. entrepreneur and Advisor to the rector of the Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod Kendrick White, and Lomonosov Moscow State University's associate professors – Alexandra Engovatova and Georgy Laptev.