A Consortium of Russian and American NGOS and U.S.- Russia Foundation Announce Groundbreaking Multi-year U.S.-Russia University Partnership

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On October 8, 2010 a consortium of one Russian - New Eurasia Foundation (FNE) http://www.neweurasia.ru, and two U.S.- based NGOs - American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS (http://www.americancouncils.org) and the National Council for East European and Eurasian Research (NCEEER) http://www.nceeer.org - operating under the overall guidance of USRF (http://www.usrf.ru), will formally announce the launch of a multi-year initiative, the Enhancing University Research and Entrepreneurial Capacity (EURECA) program http://www.eureca-usrf.org/. The program aims to strengthen Russian National Research Universities’ (NRUs) capacity to commercialize the results of their research, and foster entrepreneurial activity on their campuses. The program is managed in Russia by FNE and in the U.S. by American Councils and NCEEER.

The EURECA program launch marks a new era in U.S.-Russia relations by providing a new means for substantive collaboration to advance scientific, economic and social causes. Over the past two years, Russia has undertaken several critical steps in making the transition to a knowledge economy. To further the process, education should focus on the development of intellectual capital and the transfer of innovation to the marketplace. Integration of academic work and research, and cultivation of an entrepreneurial spirit amongst faculty and students are primary goals of these reform efforts, which are designed to foster favorable conditions for university research-driven intellectual property commercialization.

In 2009, Russian Federal Law 217-FZ gave Russian universities control over their intellectual property, allowing for the creation of small companies on campuses. This action dovetails with the U.S. Bayh-Dole Act, signed into law in 1980. Additionally, the Ministry of Education and Science (MOES) of the Russian Federation has designated 29 universities as national research universities (NRUs), allocating 1.7 bn rubles ($52.1 mm) per university to develop into a world-class system in the period of 2009-2014.

In support of these reforms, the USRF envisions allocating $1.5 -$2m per year, with potential increase up to $2.5m in funding for projects to be implemented jointly by newly created U.S.-Russia university partnerships throughout the two-year pilot stage of EURECA. The partners anticipate that projects will commence in 2011. Two Russian universities, Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod (NNSU) and St. Petersburg Institute of Information Technology, Mechanics and Optics (ITMO), were designated through a competitive bidding process as EURECA hubs. They will be charged with developing and disseminating best practices in technology transfer among Russia’s NRU community. EURECA will utilize international experts to support long-term U.S.- Russian university collaboration. USRF envisions that the Russian NRUs’ intellectual property will be transitioning to market by the end of 2012.

Representatives from five Russian NRUs, including NNSU, ITMO, National University of Science and Technology (MISIS), National Research Nuclear University (MEPhI), and Bauman Moscow State Technical University (BMSTU), and four American research universities – Purdue University, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Maryland, and the University of Washington, will be attending the EURECA plenary launch event on October 8th in Washington, D.C. Among the expected guests will be high-ranking members of the Russian and U.S. educational, state, and scientific communities, including Igor G. Protsenko, Deputy Director of the International Integration Department, Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation; Thomas Firestone, Deputy Director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs, National Security Council; The Honorable James Collins, USRF Chair of the Board of Trustees, former Ambassador to Russia; Mark Pomar, USRF President among other education and industry leaders. For more information visit http://apps.americancouncils.org/eureca_launch.

The launch ceremony is part of a ten-day event with collaborative partner sessions at academic institutions throughout the U.S. The program kicks off on October 4th in New Jersey, where Russian participants will attend a three-day “Essentials of Technology Transfer” course, a core training of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM). Two-day partner meetings will follow in Washington, D.C. on October 7th and 8th at American Councils, during which university representatives will develop preliminary strategic plans for the two-year pilot phase of EURECA. The two pilots led by NRU hubs will focus on the skills, knowledge, and infrastructure needed to handle the following tasks:

-Conducting “technical audits” to determine the commercial potential of research results;
-Modernizing university research management;
-Engaging effectively with the business sector and government to bring innovations out of the university;
-Developing the legal framework and necessary legal instruments to secure registration and patenting of university intellectual property; and
-Securing initial funding and venture capital to further develop products for market.

Founding long-term sustainable partnerships and developing modular projects are among the major topics on the agenda for partner meetings in Washington, D.C. Through a preliminary survey offered to all universities and advanced needs assessment analysis by EURECA experts, the universities will explore common interests and identify critical areas of mutually beneficial collaboration on a variety of projects. Among the outlined projects are: valuation initiatives; faculty and student exchanges; joint incubators and tech centers; venture capital participation in student start-ups; tech transfer certification programs; and incubation of professional tech transfer associations.

On October 11-13, the delegates will visit partner universities to tour their research facilities. Upon returning to Russia, the US-Russia university partnerships will engage in electronic and video-conference-supported sessions where they will continue refining their drafts of strategic partnerships and modular projects. Those modular projects will form the basis of the two-year pilot collaboration.

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