13.05.2014 - 15.05.2014 | Saint Petersburg

8th International Forum "From Science to Business"

The event was attended by more than 200 experts from different fields of education, science, business and public administration.  In the course of the work, discussions took place about developing cooperation between higher education and business, the role of development institutions in the global innovation process, and ways of establishing a socially-focused economy.

Opening the plenary session, Nikolai Toivonen, adviser to the Deputy Minister for Education and Science of the Russian Federation, noted the importance of the event in supporting the search for ways to develop institutes of higher education as part of the implementation of the "5 in 100" programme.  Aleksei Knyazev, Deputy Governor for science and education and innovation policy in Tomsk province, said that he saw students as serious investors in the regional economy whose actions would promote growth in many different fields: from investment projects providing students with affordable accommodation to organising leisure activities.

One of the subjects under discussion at the forum has traditionally been the question of the transfer of technology.  An expert from the department of private and financial sector development at the World Bank (Europe and Central Asia region), Peter Lindholm, identified a number of problems affecting the successful outcome of projects and commercialisation processes in Russia. The co-founder of Tech Coast Angels, the largest network of business angels in the USA, John Morris and the Head of the Innovation Department at ITMO University, Nina Yanykina, also noted that the concept of business angels was underdeveloped in Russia.

After discussing the existing difficulties, the participants in the forum turned to some successful examples of the creation of a supportive environment for innovation and business. For example, in the last few years 39 small innovative companies have been set up at ITMO University and six basic postgraduate professorships in partnership with companies in St Petersburg.

For the first time in the history of the forum, the agenda included the subject of social enterprise, one that is undoubtedly of interest to charitable funds, volunteers and young specialists attempting to introduce socially relevant development in Russia. The participants noted that one of the serious problems of our times is the lack of government support, as a result of which growth in this sector in Russia could stagnate for the next 10 years.  However, Russian universities are endeavouring to support student social projects and help to make them profitable by creating a strong innovative infrastructure.

Summing up the conclusions of the forum, the experts remarked on some positive trends in cooperation between the business and scientific-educational communities. They put forward the suggestion that next year the focus should be on presentations by representatives of business and also that similar events should be organised in other regions of Russia, where there is a need to facilitate a dialogue between universities and entrepreneurs.


Yuri Shkolnikov
From Science to Business Forum

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