1
Summaries of Workshop Presentations and Discussions

PLENARY SESSIONS

Introductory Remarks

Academician Valery N. Charushin, vice chairman of the Urals Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), Yekaterinburg, and host of the workshop, presented an overview of the activities of the Urals Branch. More than 3,300 scientists work at the 39 research institutes and related organizations comprising the Urals Branch. The principal innovation activities of the Branch are directed to

  • new information technologies

  • materials sciences

  • physical equipment

  • scientific instruments, measuring systems, and control methods

  • new chemical technologies, including synthesis of drugs

  • biotechnology

  • medical devices

The innovation infrastructure of the Urals Branch includes the following facilities

  • innovation technology center

  • technology transfer center



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 5
Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop 1 Summaries of Workshop Presentations and Discussions PLENARY SESSIONS Introductory Remarks Academician Valery N. Charushin, vice chairman of the Urals Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), Yekaterinburg, and host of the workshop, presented an overview of the activities of the Urals Branch. More than 3,300 scientists work at the 39 research institutes and related organizations comprising the Urals Branch. The principal innovation activities of the Branch are directed to new information technologies materials sciences physical equipment scientific instruments, measuring systems, and control methods new chemical technologies, including synthesis of drugs biotechnology medical devices The innovation infrastructure of the Urals Branch includes the following facilities innovation technology center technology transfer center

OCR for page 5
Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop nuclear center experimental nuclear reactor instrumentation research center multimedia technology center pilot plant academy-university innovation center academy-industry innovation center A number of successful innovations have attracted Russian industrial customers. For example, a multi-channel amplifier is used for shock and vibration testing by a leading Russian aerospace company. A magnetic defect detection system is used by Russian industry to monitor gas and oil pipelines. New techniques have been developed for making locally produced titanium wire for medical applications. Internationally, companies in Japan, Korea, and the United States use technologies developed within the Urals Branch. Alvin W. Trivelpiece, the chair of the National Research Council (NRC) committee and a consultant at Sandia National Laboratories, emphasized that a logical application for the skills of specialists in Russia’s nuclear cities is the further development of nuclear power. Some estimates indicate that 1,000 new nuclear reactors will be required to meet the needs of developing countries for stable and reliable sources of energy. Also, there are many opportunities for innovation in nuclear medicine, a field in which Russian specialists have considerable relevant experience. An interesting experiment in fostering contacts between laboratories and industry was a former policy of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that encouraged U.S. nuclear laboratories to provide a few days of free consulting services to companies in need of technological advice. In one success story, a laboratory expert in graphite processing saved a pencil company from bankruptcy by recommending a change in a process that was rapidly wearing out the dies that extruded the graphite for the pencils. He discovered that the graphite was crystallizing in a way that scored the dies, and adoption of his recommendation to change the process that caused the crystallization returned the company to solvency. In short, effective technology transfer requires close interactions between researchers and company personnel. Without continuous close contact, the likelihood that innovations developed by research institutions will find interest within companies is low. George D. Pomeroy, who represented the Nuclear Cities Initiative of DOE in Washington, D.C. (the financial sponsor of the workshop), reviewed the objectives of the program. They are to: (a) prevent the proliferation of nuclear expertise by supporting the transition of displaced workers to commercial jobs; (b) support Russia’s planned reduction in the nuclear weapons complex through the

OCR for page 5
Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop creation of jobs; and (c) encourage partnerships that focus resources and expertise on defense conversion. The cities of Sarov, Snezhinsk, and Zheleznogorsk currently participate in the program, and Seversk and Zarechny are being considered as future participants. Thus far, the program has created or expanded 26 businesses with 1,600 new jobs. As this positive experience indicates, when considering linkages between researchers in the nuclear cities and industry, technology push is significantly less effective than responding to market demand. Good management is also key. Further, a good business plan and effective use of business consultants are essential. Multiple investors from both the private and public sectors are desirable. As linkages expand, commercial centers located outside the fences of the closed cities should be considered to ease access problems for potential foreign investors interested in technologies developed by specialists from the cities. Building an Effective Partnership: From Idea to Market Yury F. Maidanik of the Institute of Thermal Physics, Yekaterinburg, reported on the advantages of loop heat pipes. The thermal conductivity of a heat pipe can be hundreds of times higher than that of solid copper, but their heat-transfer capacity is relatively low. They have no moving parts, and so have the advantage of high reliability and a prolonged service life. They are very useful in spaceflight, but must be designed for the gravity environment where they are used. A heat pipe designed for space, for example, would not work in earth’s gravity. One disadvantage, therefore, is a high sensitivity to changes of orientation in terrestrial applications. The Institute of Thermal Physics has provided heat pipes for the space program since 1989. Now, it is exploring applications in automobiles, desktop and laptop PCs, avionics, and low-potential heat sources. During the past decade, the institute has had research and development contracts with companies and research laboratories in the United States, Europe, China, Japan, and Korea. The institute has an experienced research team and adequate research equipment. It has an experimental production base and is prepared to enter into arrangements concerning patents and licenses. For mass production, however, it needs customers and investments. Natalya Y. Pomortseva of the Urals Branch, Yekaterinburg, and a consultant to the Russian firm PRAD, described a successful technology transfer program that created a new business in which researchers were rewarded with royalty payments. A joint venture was established with paying customers, and the corporate culture of the Russian firm has improved via contacts with Western business partners. This new niche in the Western market created new jobs in Russia. Pomortseva explained how the joint venture began. The Russian company PRAD faced a problem with a helicopter compressor engine that experienced

OCR for page 5
Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop severe erosion damage. The scientific team at the Urals State Technical University and the Institute of Electrophysics developed a proprietary ion-implanted coating technique that improves adhesion and fatigue properties while reducing coating imperfections. The approach prevents erosion of the compressor rotor from sand, dust, or volcanic ash. At present, the principal customer for the new technology is General Electric Aircraft Engines. Under a joint venture arrangement, PRAD has teamed with a Canadian partner that now has the rights for the U.S. market. The protective coating is being produced in Canada and Russia for these markets. Among the problems that were overcome in developing the international partnership were cultural differences, intellectual property issues, and financial arrangements. Also, the scientific, production, and marketing teams had different objectives. The scientists wanted to improve airfoil properties, study structural and phase transformations, and explain the observed effects. The production team wanted to meet user specifications while fitting the innovations into an existing production facility. The marketing team focused on meeting the needs of the user, implementing a niche strategy, and maximizing profits. As a result each team had a different approach, a different perception of quality, and a different perception of time lines. But in the end, a smoothly operating arrangement evolved. Vsevolod S. Kortov of the Institute for Innovation and Marketing of Urals State University and Urals State Technical University, Yekaterinburg, discussed the activities of a new technology transfer organization. The initial model was the approach taken by the University of New Mexico: an internal component focused on the intellectual property of the university and an external component emphasizing commercial service organizations. Currently the new technology transfer organization has partners in the United States and England where the technologies of interest include nano-crystal magnetic transfer, scintillation detectors, pharmaceuticals, and mobile autoclaves. The organization provides benefits to the university, including preservation of the intellectual potential of the institution, better understanding of commercial priorities and relevant laws which guide scientific and innovation decisions, and improved competitiveness of innovation products. The inventors benefit by receiving recognition for their scientific achievements, rewards for obtaining patents, and income from the realization of patents. The organization has helped establish three businesses, completed three licensing agreements with three percent royalties, and sold high technology products for one million rubles. Also, it has helped university scientists obtain 12 grants from the new Russian program “START,” which supports small innovative businesses. Despite initial success, the following transfer problems remain: low level of requests for high technologies poorly informed leaders of relevant enterprises

OCR for page 5
Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop small number of specialists in technology transfer inadequate regulations to implement new legislation absence of effective venture capital funds problems obtaining start-up capital W. Mark Crowell of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, discussed American approaches to encouraging linkages between academic researchers and industrial companies. U.S. experience in establishing technology transfer systems supported by universities dates back more than 25 years. These systems are built around university-industry partnerships, research parks, and, of course, personal contacts between faculty members and industrial colleagues. The Association of University Technology Managers has supported professional development, networking, surveys, and statistics; and now it will address economic development. Among the mechanisms for university-industry partnerships are industry research contracts, typically involving a single laboratory receiving funding directly from industry based on a research plan with budgetary and intellectual property provisions industry focused research centers matching grant programs adjunct faculty from industry student internships within industry faculty consulting services professional education for industrial specialists Looking ahead, evolving strategies for knowledge-based economic development include significant focus on growing new companies from an expanding research base expansion of technology transfer capabilities new inter-institutional partnerships alignment of research institution programs with market trends university-affiliated venture funds university-affiliated research parks international outreach Identifying Opportunities for Moving Ideas to the Market Boris K. Vodolaga of the All-Union Scientific Research Institute for Technical Physics (VNIITF), Snezhinsk, emphasized the importance of interactions between VNIITF and the Urals Branch of the RAS. With regard to possible

OCR for page 5
Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop industrial applications, VNIITF researchers are working with the Institute of High-Temperature Electrochemistry in developing batteries with power ranging from 4 to 500 watts. Together with the Institute of Metal Physics, VNIITF is exploring new ways to compact powder materials. In addition, its scientists are collaborating with colleagues at the Institute of Organic Synthesis in the field of computer modeling of molecular mechanisms of action, with a focus on applications in the development of drugs. Among the problems inhibiting commercialization activities are inadequacies in the following areas: commercialization specialists entrepreneurial culture and in particular, initiative among technology developers operating laws on intellectual property operating funds for design work, modernization of equipment, and capital construction for essential production and office space Education and training to prepare personnel to become technological entrepreneurs should concentrate on the following areas: economics during the transition period rights of citizens in the conduct of economic activities psychological aspects of the innovation process business management marketing legal protection of intellectual property quality certification basis for investments organization of production and services international cooperation and public relations Viktor L. Kozhevnikov of the Institute for Solid State Chemistry, Yekaterinburg, described novel technologies and materials developed by the institute. Several of the technologies are designed to remove metals from industrial liquid wastes. The institute’s achievements in materials science include aluminum alloys and powders, tungsten-free hard alloys, and dental materials. In one case, the Urals radiotechnical plant has adopted a technology for the removal of heavy metals from liquid wastes. The closing of many of Russia’s industrial institutes in recent years has left the academic community without intermediaries to transfer novel materials and technologies to industry. Also, the lack of experimental workshops means that limited quantities of new materials cannot be produced for industrial testing and demonstrations. At the same time, regional and municipal programs designed to

OCR for page 5
Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop support small businesses lack the capability for expert evaluations, which results in inadequate recognition of promising developments and inefficient use of funds. As a result, support for small innovative businesses using research results has declined. Finally, Russian industrial enterprises are not interested in medium-and long-term investments in R&D. Mark B. Myers of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and formerly with Xerox, Inc., discussed the importance of mastering the dynamics of market and technological interactions. To this end, building the bridge from science to commercial success is the challenge, and such a bridge depends on full innovation systems. A meshing of emerging markets and emerging technologies, coupled with customer feedback, can often provide opportunities for success. Conceptually, the innovation pipeline involves several stages including both market and technological considerations: opportunity screening; concept development; and, proof of concept. Then comes a business incubation stage when decisions must be made as to whether to launch a business, terminate the project, or simply spin off technologies—perhaps under licenses—to other parties. The advent of the thermal ink jet printer head provides a good example of balancing the risk of investment with the rewards of success. The rewards were successful entry into the photofinishing market and replacement of laser printing. The risks of course were both the technological risk of engineering failure and the market risk of competition. Assessing Opportunities for Introducing New Technologies Aleksandr Y. Ageev of the Innovations and Technology Support Group, Seversk, discussed the innovation potential of the city. Recently established enterprises process paper waste, sort and utilize solid waste, and produce heat-insulating peat blocks. There are plans to build a production line for oxidized atactic polypropylene. Also, new plants are being designed to manufacture silicon nitride/carbide ceramics, insulated pipes, and thread-form and needle-shaped mullite powders. Finally, a wood finishing enterprise is planned. Thus, economic diversification of the city is under way. About 800 new jobs have been created at a cost of 685,000 rubles per job. Financing has been provided for 24 small businesses at a cost of 58,100,000 rubles. A business support infrastructure has been established, including a mechanism for accessing government funds. While small businesses have emerged and now employ 35.6 percent of the city’s workforce, few of these businesses are technology-oriented. Future objectives are to establish joint ventures with international partners for technology-intensive projects and to encourage investments in technology-intensive businesses. Ilya M. Paderin from the Akademichesky Regional Center for Technology Transfer, Yekaterinburg, described the problems in the commercialization of technology at institutes that have no policies or mechanisms for technology trans-

OCR for page 5
Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop fer. The scientists determine their own paths to establishing businesses, organizing production, or providing consulting services. This approach does not benefit the institute and provides no basis for future investments in personnel or equipment. Institutes should have policies concerning use of their intellectual property and exploitation of the experience of their researchers. It is better to withhold assistance to scientists in establishing privately controlled daughter firms than to receive nothing in return from such firms. A regional network involving 22 Russian organizations and two foreign partners has been established to improve prospects for commercialization of technologies. There is also a linkage to a French network. In Russia, many members of the network are technology transfer centers and technoparks. Others are research institutes. Several companies are also members. The strategic task is for the participants to have a competitive advantage, with emphasis on the quality of their activities and their ability to mobilize resources. Linking investors with small innovative firms is a primary task. Several companies in the city are of special interest to the leadership of the network in Yekaterinburg. They include the following: Sonat: construction equipment, gas burners, furnaces for medical wastes, X-ray diagnostics Elektrum: concentrates of valuable metals, technologies for extraction of valuable metals Rezonans: molybdenum production, telemechanics for controlling mining operations, radio-electronic connections High-Dispersion Metallic Powders: anticorrosive zinc materials, equipment for thermal diffusion of zinc, anti-friction material Problems in Need of Solutions: Identifying Industrial Priorities Aleksei V. Golubev of the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics, Sarov, described the activities of SarovLabs, which offers software development and scientific consulting services. It is a fast growing company with gross revenues showing a three-fold increase in 2004. Its staff, which includes highly educated engineers, now numbers 200 full-time and 100 part-time employees. The company has its own hardware for computing and programming and a modern network infrastructure for high-speed communication. The issues it has addressed in order to penetrate the market are intellectual property export control pricing technology “packaging”

OCR for page 5
Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop business models: onshore vs. offshore, partnering, start-up capital, and optimization for delivery of services project methodology and quality assurance delivery model Four of the company’s activities are as follows: multiplatform graphic user interface for Motorola, USA a 3-D scanning solution for industrial application at the enterprise “Kristal,” Smolensk design of house structures to withstand 140-mile-per-hour winds for Advanced Composite Structures, USA analyses of radioactive wastes for WMG, Inc., USA The company will continue to build on its strongest assets—highly skilled scientists and engineers and available technologies—recognizing the effects of increasing energy prices and the need to reduce R&D costs as it expands its businesses. Managing a Successful Industry-Research Partnership Vladimir A. Khokhlov of the Institute of High-Temperature Electrochemistry, Yekaterinburg, reported that the results of research conducted in his institute are reflected in hundreds of articles in Russian and foreign journals, more than 30 books, and more than 50 innovation proposals. But only a few proposals are being implemented. The institute has three lines of innovation activities: production of novel materials for mechanical engineering in the aerospace, power engineering, and electronics industries; electrochemical power engineering (fuel cells, thermal chemical batteries, high-temperature secondary batteries, lithium-polymer power sources); and reprocessing of natural and man-made raw materials using non-traditional electrochemical methods (e.g., processing spent nuclear fuel, obtaining highly pure lead from industrial wastes). Problems encountered in commercializing innovation projects include breakdowns in the research-developmentpilot plantindustry chain lack of semi-commercial equipment at most universities and academy institutes reluctance of industry to produce novel high-tech products reluctance of private and state companies and banks to subsidize promising research and development work

OCR for page 5
Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop Planning for Quality of New Technological Products: Requirements for Researchers Yury V. Rumyantsev of the International Development Center, Snezhinsk, described the activities of the center to facilitate nonproliferation through conversion projects and services to local businesses. The center offers the following types of consulting services: guidance on registering firms and establishing private businesses in Snezhinsk assistance in developing and implementing business projects analysis of firms’ financial standing and preparation of financial reports comprehensive financial and economic analysis of firms’ activities assistance in database searches advice on using analytical programs from Pro-invest II The center maintains a website, The Urals Business Center, that provides advertising opportunities for local businesses. It organizes conferences and training programs and offers English language lessons. It also arranged for the licensing and certification of Snezhinsk’s first independently owned commercial radio station. The center’s successful industrial projects have included the production of plastic bottles, lacquer, insulated steel pipes, and die molds. Assessing Opportunities for Introducing New Technologies Alvin V. Trivelpiece discussed activities of the U.S. national laboratories, particularly focusing on the commercialization interests of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Twenty-five years ago, none of the DOE national laboratories had extensive contacts with industry from the standpoint of technology transfer. Now, all of them do. The change did not occur suddenly, and it depended on improvements in the legal base controlling the laboratories’ commercialization activities. Two other developments have enhanced interactions between the laboratories and industry. First, a system has been established whereby inventors are rewarded for patents by sharing in the licensing fees. Secondly, the laboratories encourage industry to use their facilities for product testing and other purposes. Through such arrangements, the laboratory scientists have new opportunities to expand their industrial contacts. In each of these areas, the Russian government might consider steps that will bring laboratory scientists and industry managers closer together.

OCR for page 5
Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop Customer Driven Research Eugene B. Krentsel of the University of Missouri, Columbia, discussed the importance of market pull, which emphasizes listening to potential customers prior to developing technologies intended for the commercial market. Technology push has been the traditional approach in Russia, whereby technologies are developed and then customers are sought. No institute should restrict itself to one approach or the other, and there are risks associated with each approach. Assessment of the proper balance for each institute is essential. Strategies for technology commercialization should include identification of medium-term (5-10 years) market needs (market research, selection of industries of interest, expert assessment of technology trends) assessment of the potential of R&D groups (identification of centers of excellence, potential of groups to address industry requirements, evaluation of overall capabilities of institutes and laboratories) identification of opportunity areas (communication with key players, selection of specific business opportunity areas, identification of most promising “candidate partners”) The overall R&D assessment process should identify technological hurdles, propose ways of overcoming them, and anticipate the benefits. A key step is then matching R&D objectives with research competencies. Vladimir V. Prokhorov of the Institute of Mathematics and Mechanics, Yekaterinburg, discussed a multifunctional system of internet video communications, including video streaming, video conferencing, video on demand, and video on schedules. The researchers had been involved in high-precision navigation and guidance of missiles based on earth and target images. Currently, they are developing codes for a number of civilian applications based on image recognition. The problems being addressed include low picture quality, vulnerability of data loss in internet channels, poor synchronization of video and audio, poor stability over long periods of operations (many days or months), and narrow applications of partial systems. A number of problems have been solved, such as synchronization of audio and video, algorithms to help retrieve lost data due to failures and processor overloads, and user interfaces for multipoint video conferencing. Examples of systems that have attracted customers are InTech Communications: mobile satellite television reporting system television traffic link from Nizhny Tagil to Moscow video bridges between Athens and Moscow for ITAR-TASS coverage of the Olympic games

OCR for page 5
Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop one-year continuous internet transmission from a station of the Russian Orthodox church E. N. Selivanov of the Institute of Metallurgy, Yekaterinburg, reviewed innovation activity at his institute. The main scientific focus of the institute is the development of physical-chemical principles of metallurgical processes, with specific attention to the following problems: thermodynamics, kinetics, and mechanisms of metallurgical reactions liquid metal state theory molten slag structure and properties theory and technology of pyrometallurgical and electrothermal processes of metal and alloy production physical-chemical principles of complex utilization of metal raw materials theory and technology of metal powders and composite materials production Dennis I. Robbins of Techpiphany, Texas, and formerly with Texas Instruments, Inc., discussed opportunities for new businesses and for new products. First one would ask: What will you sell and why will customers buy it? The business plan is central to this process. Financing and execution plans should be oriented toward creating value. It is essential to build on successes and learn from failures. Key questions are as follows: What is the compelling market need? Who will be the beneficiaries of the research and are their needs well understood? What is the state of the art in the field and is there R&D work already being conducted to provide better solutions to problems? How will the proposed approach provide a still better solution? What is the product, and who will buy it? What is the intellectual property value and how will it be protected? What is the cost to execute the plan, and how will the project be financed? Who will do the work? Several mindsets must be avoided. Do not become enamored with a technology. Do not underestimate the competition. Do not try to innovate with inadequate resources. Do not reject the notion that others can invent approaches that may be better than your own. Finally, keep in mind that applied research should be driven by customer and market needs.

OCR for page 5
Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop Comments by Specialists from the Closed Nuclear Cities1 Specialists from the closed cities expressed their belief that the problems they are encountering in technology transfer are common throughout Russia. Entrepreneurs in the closed cities no longer are able to offer special tax exemptions to businesses, and they must play by the same rules as counterparts in other cities. One difference, however is that access continues to be a problem for foreigners; Russian nationals often do not face the same degree of difficulty, however. Similarly, Russian scientific delegations to the United States frequently encounter restrictions in traveling to national defense laboratories. Specialists from the closed cities strongly advocated a Russian policy that would enable research institutes to donate or lease their excess research equipment to start-up high-tech firms. This would encourage laboratory scientists to spin off from the institutes and try their hands at entrepreneurship in the private sector using familiar equipment. Also, specialists from the closed cities suggested an initiative whereby scientists from the research institutes could spend one or two years starting up businesses but have re-employment rights at the institutes in the event the businesses fail. Two interesting observations were set forth about procedures for raising the interest of Russian firms in the capabilities of research institutes. First, Russia is a country of personal relations. And it is particularly important that researchers use their contacts and the contacts of friends to make it through the doorways for discussions at companies. With personal contacts, opportunities for serious discussions will be much greater. Second, presentations about promising technologies should be delivered differently for potential Russian clients and for international clients. Indeed, the business plan models of the West may require considerable modification if they are to be persuasive to potential Russian investors, including companies interested in innovation. In particular, the estimates of costs must conform to Russian accounting regulations and respond to requirements of Russian customers. At present, Western requirements in these areas may not always be in line with the practical problems encountered in Russia. In time, however, the attraction of the international market and the requirements of working with foreign partners should encourage Russian approaches to become more consistent with internationally-accepted norms and practices. General Discussion A number of comments and questions were offered during the workshop. Among the observations of particular interest were the following: 1   Please see Appendix A for a list of participants and the workshop agenda.

OCR for page 5
Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop Russian industry executives are interested in large projects (e.g., $10 million) and do not have time to consider small projects. The technical capabilities of companies, which pay much higher salaries than academy institutes or universities, are often much stronger than the capabilities of the institutes; naturally, there is little interest in engaging weak institutes in industry projects. Intellectual property rights are of great concern in Russia. Russia does not currently have national legislation that would facilitate an approach similar to the U.S. Bayh-Dole act. Those at the institute level expect little to change as a result of the improved innovation policies proposed in Moscow. In general, the government provides little financial or legal support for innovation activities. The one exception is the “Bortnik Fund” (Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises), which has helped most of the small innovative firms that have become successful. Creation and identification of new markets are the key issues, particularly when following the path of technology push. Researchers have little experience in facing this challenge. Therefore, greater attention should be given to market pull, but this will require changes in the ways researchers think and operate. THIRD INNOVATION CONFERENCE The Third Innovation Conference on “Regional Aspects of Science and Technology Policy: From Basic Research to Putting Innovations into Practice” was held in Yekaterinburg at the end of the workshop. The NRC committee did not participate directly in the conference, but the conference provided a backdrop for continued discussions with Russian counterparts. Some of the Russian participants in the workshop were speakers at the plenary and breakout sessions of the conference. The American participants in the workshop had an opportunity to meet with conference participants and discuss developments of special relevance to the workshop. The main themes of the conference were establishing the Russian innovation system fostering regional grant competitions in fundamental research improving the effective use of the scientific-technical, intellectual, and industrial potential of the Urals Federal District developing contemporary forms of regional innovation activities in the Urals Federal District addressing practical aspects of innovation project implementation conducting innovation in the production sector An eclectic mix of companies, universities, and research institutes was repre-

OCR for page 5
Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop sented at the exhibition associated with the conference. Exhibitors ranged from companies producing artwork to food-processing firms, to electronics manufacturers, to developers of new materials. But they were not large companies. The company representatives in attendance seemed to be advertising rather than technical specialists. The attitude of company representatives toward working with external researchers was wide ranging, but in general they were not particularly enthusiastic. One company was interested in engaging scientists from closed cities but did not have enough information as to their capabilities in specific areas. Another was simply not interested in outsourcing innovation tasks. And another expressed reservations about working through intermediary technology transfer centers, preferring to deal directly with the laboratory researchers. One exhibit of special interest was the display of Southern Urals State University in Chelyabinsk. The exhibit presented a number of technologies that seemed to have commercial potential in fields such as electrocardiogram diagnostics, remote environmental monitoring, and biopsy diagnostics. The specialists from the university have many industrial contacts and seemed sensitive to the need for patents. Another exhibit of note was the “Three Hills” exhibit, which represented nine companies located in the Chelyabinsk area. These companies were involved in the following activities: providing ceramic beads for use in oil production (drilling muds); manufacturing fiberglass laminate for bathtubs using German technology; building electronic assembly boards; producing sensors for detecting ionizing radiation; and, selling detectors for pipeline leaks. The representatives were eager to promote the companies and seemed to have a good sense of marketing and other business aspects. BREAKOUT SESSIONS Breakout Session at the Institute of Metallurgy The institute’s main lines of research were presented at the workshop by E. N. Selivanov and are summarized above. The laboratories are extensive but were sparsely populated during the committee’s visit. As to applied activities, the emphasis seemed to be on providing analytical services rather than innovative work with commercial potential. Most of the discussion was on past achievements, and the future R&D strategy was not clear. Breakout Session at Urals State Technical University This session provided an opportunity to elaborate on comments made during the workshop. The main topic of discussion was the role of the Technology Transfer Office established with the assistance of the U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation. The activities of the office include the following:

OCR for page 5
Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop identifying and evaluating the commercial potential of intellectual property resulting from research by universities, institutes, and small- and medium-sized companies in the region marketing intellectual property, contract research, and consulting services searching for partners and investors providing patent and technical expertise in the development of licenses licensing and selling intellectual property on behalf of R&D groups training and consulting in management, marketing, finance, law, and intellectual property rights providing up-to-date information on regional technologies through databases organizing exhibitions, conferences, workshops, and public presentations Since there are no certified technology transfer specialists in the region, the university is providing training and is involved with the Eurasian Association for Technology Transfer. Specialists at Urals State Technical University noted that there is a need for federal legislation in the area of technology transfer, building on a 2003 law affecting privatization of intellectual property rights. A national study group has been formed to assess the need for further legislation. While the role of the university community is vital at the regional level, the federal government’s role in fostering greater innovation, such as through venture capital funds and other private efforts, is equally important. Breakout Session at the Russian Electrotechnological Company (RELTEC) The company is a private enterprise employing about 300 people, with no external investments to support growth. It produces induction furnaces and heating systems, high-power frequency converters, and ultrasonic cleaning systems. The company participates in international exhibitions to gain insights into the state of the art and thereby become more competitive in the worldwide market. In this regard, the company conducts its R&D in-house and considers external research activities too expensive and not totally reliable. From time to time it receives small amounts of support from the government. In Soviet times, the facility was the Central Research Institute for Scientific Engineering, designing and developing special purpose equipment, mostly for civilian applications. In the early 1990s, the plant had serious financial difficulties, but now it is on a profitable course.