American Councils Convenes The Entrepreneurial University Forum: Connecting Russian Technology to U.S. Universities, Companies & Capital

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On April 13, 2011 American Councils for International Education (American Councils) hosted The Entrepreneurial University Forum in Washington, D.C. at the University of California Washington Center. This forum, focused on university research in social and economic innovation, and is part of a week-long program organized by American Councils in partnership with the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Leading Russian Universities (ARU), the Russian Ministry of Education and Science and the New Eurasia Foundation. The Forum includes meetings with industry representatives, government agencies, and site visits to AAU member institutions in the Washington D.C. area and Research Triangle. Thirty Russian university presidents and senior research officers are taking part in the program, which is one of the largest of its kind in recent US-Russian relations in higher education.

A good example of the kind of US-Russian joint effort envisioned by the AAU-ARU collaboration can be seen in the "EURECA" program, launched in October of 2010 with the support of the US-Russia Foundation (USRF) and the Ministry of Education and Science

On April 13, 2011 American Councils for International Education (American Councils) hosted The Entrepreneurial University Forum in Washington, D.C. at the University of California Washington Center. This forum, focused on university research in social and economic innovation, and is part of a week-long program organized by American Councils in partnership with the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Leading Russian Universities (ARU), the Russian Ministry of Education and Science and the New Eurasia Foundation. The Forum includes meetings with industry representatives, government agencies, and site visits to AAU member institutions in the Washington D.C. area and Research Triangle. Thirty Russian university presidents and senior research officers are taking part in the program, which is one of the largest of its kind in recent US-Russian relations in higher education.

The Forum is part of a broader, multi-year initiative launched by AAU and ARU, designed to help expand U.S.-Russian university collaboration in research, research management, and university-industry relations. AAU President, Dr. Robert Berdahl, who participated in a planning meeting for this week's conferences in Moscow in early March under the auspices of the Higher Education Sub-Working Group of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission working group on higher education, notes that "this week's meetings are providing an extraordinary opportunity to explore mutually beneficial cooperation between AAU and ARU member universities."

The Russian delegation represent a group of Russia's leading research institutions, including both national research universities (NRU's) and the large-scale federal regional universities, which cooperate nationally through the newly formed non-governmental Association of Leading Russian Research Universities (ARU). A major task of ARU is to strengthen Russian university capacity and infrastructure for technology transfer and improved relations with industry. "A good example of the kind of US-Russian joint effort envisioned by the AAU-ARU collaboration can be seen in the "EURECA" program, launched in October of 2010 with the support of the US-Russia Foundation (USRF) and the Ministry of Education and Science," notes Dr. Dan E. Davidson, President of American Councils, which is organizing this week's events. "EURECA, Enhancing University Research and Entrepreneurial Capacity, is currently enabling AAU/ARU public research universities from the U.S. and Russia to develop new capacities, and new products and services for technology transfer, IP commercialization and collaboration," Davidson added. EURECA is jointly administered by American Councils and the New Eurasia Foundation.

Monday, April 11th, the overseas delegation attended sessions on how to accelerate their cooperation with U.S. business and private companies. Eugene Krentsel, Assistant Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnerships at SUNY Binghamton addressed the visiting delegation as part of a contextualizing orientation focused on “best practices for cooperation with U.S. businesses.” Then, the delegation spent the afternoon at the University of Maryland, College Park (a US partner in the EURECA program) visiting and discussing Engineering, Nanotechnology, and Advanced Incubator Facilities for hands-on exposure to successful international partnership models.

Tuesday, April 12th included meetings visiting delegation with members of the U.S.-Russia Business Council in the morning. In the afternoon, participants from ARU joined their counterparts from AAU to explore frameworks for multi-year, multi-institutional partnerships. The result was the creation of four working groups in the areas of research, graduate education, university-industry collaboration and university administration – as well as the formation of a committee to coordinate future planning between the two associations. "The collaboration that we hope to develop will not only enrich the research and educational activities of our member institutions, but benefit the larger relationship between the U.S. and Russia," observed Dr. John Vaughn, Executive Vice President of AAU, who has also taken part in the Moscow bilateral talks over the past two years.

Wednesday April 13th Forum focused on means for accelerating social and economic innovation by research universities in both countries. The Entrepreneurial University Forum explored how universities and academic innovation can contribute to socioeconomic development, and how U.S. and Russian research universities are building capacity and deploying resources in these areas. Russian presenters communicated their interest in working with business and industry, while having the opportunity to learn about opportunities for collaboration. Speakers represent government, policy, academic, and business perspectives on the larger issue of university-based technology transfer. "Russian federal investment in university-based research and development will exceed $1.2 billion (US) in the current fiscal year," according to Dr. Igor Protsenko, a Russian government member of the visiting delegation and Head of the Department of International Integration at the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation. "Given the size of the Russian economy overall, this represents a serious investment by the Russian government in its higher education system," notes Davidson. Topics covered by the Forum include regional innovations and global outlook, perspectives on federal support for research and development capacity, bridging policy and practice in the innovation ecosystem, and building and evaluating innovation infrastructure.

Following the three days of events in Washington, D.C., the visiting delegation continued on to North Carolina for meetings at NC State University, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center and the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill.

About American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS
Founded in 1974 as an association for area and language professionals, American Councils for International Education advances scholarly research and cross-border learning through the design and implementation of educational programs that are well grounded in key world languages, cultures and regions. American Councils contributes to the creation of new knowledge, broader professional perspectives, and personal and intellectual growth through international training, academic exchange, collaboration in educational development, and public diplomacy. With a presence in the U.S., Russia and Eurasia for nearly four decades, in addition to representation in over thirty countries across Asia, the Middle East and Southeastern Europe, American Councils strives to expand dialog among students, scholars, educators and professionals for the advancement of learning and mutual respect in the diverse communities and societies in which we work. For more information, visit http://www.americancouncils.org.

About The Enhancing University Research and Entrepreneurial Capacity Project (EURECA)
The Enhancing University Research and Entrepreneurial Capacity (EURECA) project, is run by American Councils and funded by the U.S.-Russia Foundation (USRF) to support high-level, mutually beneficial cooperation in technology transfer – a fundamentally new direction in U.S.-Russian university cooperation. EURECA is a catalyst of new mutually beneficial U.S. and Russian initiatives designed to bring products and services to market.

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