Strategic Initiative 5. “Growth of the Innovation Ecosystem Potential: Knowledge and Technology Transfer”

This SI is aimed at placing the innovation ecosystem at ITMO University on a higher level of qualitative development, which corresponds to the University’s plan to have a world position, taking into account the high impact that its innovation and business activity will have on its reputation. In order to organize a system technology transfer, ITMO University acts as a ventures investor, managing its own portfolio of projects, companies and intellectual products. The University engages in making ventures investments in promising projects with a high potential of commercialization.

       The activities are carried out in three stages:

       Stage 1: 2013-2014: the formation of a fully-fledged system of service support for tech transfer products and commercialization processes. The service will include the intensive development and upskilling of University staff with regard to commercialization and technology transfer and as well as building cooperation of ITMO University with infrastructure and industrial partners;

Key results of the first stage are the following:

·        Engineering center, Technology Transfer Center and FabLab were launched

·        More than 20 training and information innovation-oriented events involving foreign experts for students and staff were organized

·        Programs of students’ involvement in projects with the launch of  proficiency certificates 

·        Several new SIEs have been founded

·        Cooperation deepened with 40 innovation ecosystem participants (including JSC, ‘RVK’, JSK ‘Rosnano’, Skolkovo Foundation) both at national and international level.

       Stage 2: 2015-2016: active implementation of mechanisms for selecting  IP with high potential for commercialization; support and promotion of the University’s innovation projects  nationally and globally and the development of all the University's services corresponding with technology transfer and IP commercialization projects at an international level (by 2016 the first University international patents pool for IP will be formed)

       Stage 3: 2017-20: ensuring the sustainability of the innovation ecosystem based on the effective management of IP commercialization and innovation projects with portfolio, large-scale and widespread industry cooperation and systematic development of entrepreneurial skills and competences of students and staff.

       SI.5 will be implemented by addressing the following tasks:

Task 5.1. ‘ITMO Innovation Portfolio’ - Establishment and efficient administration of the University’s innovative projects portfolio’ will be implemented by the means of two interconnected approaches, focusing on the development of “translational research”:

·        Creating within the University a ‘virtual’ engineering research company providing solutions to business problems

·        Creating a system for the implementation of the University’s research results in the national economy, by putting together an IP database (based on the R&D results catalogue mentioned in section 1.3.1.) in order to detect the competitive technologies for further commercialization.

       Measures in this area envisage the organization of a systematic process to manage IP owned by the University. Substantial mechanisms for the implementation of this activity will be:

·        Creating an investment policy for the University’s portfolio of protectable IP, including mechanisms for technology valuations, marketing and local market research and technology foresight;

·        Systematic partnership-building with other parties within the innovation ecosystem on the city, at national and international levels, including financial institutions and business cluster associations

·        Initiation of cooperation projects in the form of small innovative enterprises, involving global industrial partners

Simultaneously, identification of new substantial directions and forming big project areas able to source multiple applied projects in the form of SIEs on global markets  to be supported by regular technology audits and the monitoring of innovation divisions’ activity and results combined with constant generation, launching and implementation of  ITMO University's big cross-university innovative projects. An example of such an innovative project can be development of M2M “Tele-mechanics and instrumental engineering”.

One particular unique example of  innovation project support will be the competition process for priority innovation projects organized both in cooperation with industrial and public partners (i.e. photonics and information technologies innovation projects competition organized with “Skolkovo” Foundation) or by ITMO University’s Venture Foundation. The pre-seedcorn foundation will be formed at ITMO University to finance University projects in such stages as “technology and market feasibility study”, “proof of concept” and “prototyping” in order to support early-stage innovative projects.

Task 5.2. ‘ITMO Entrepreneurial Capacity - enhancement of the business culture and management competencies of the University’ will be addressed by:

·        Developing existing, and implementing new technologies by organizing service support for students, staff and third parties with respect to the implementation of their innovation projects;

·        Organization of information and training events in the sphere of innovation and business activity.

To complete the task we will use the relevant service support techniques for the enhancement of innovation and entrepreneurial activity of the University, namely:

·        Brand new, and unique for Russian universities, “technology brokers” who act as intermediary contractors between R&D teams and the world of global business; which includes using the “Project Fellowship” program.

·        Specific mechanisms of technology and social entrepreneurship projects - acceleration and incubation.

·        Involving leading Russian and foreign experts and entrepreneurs as trainers and mentors in work with startup teams (‘Entrepreneurs-in-Residence’, EIRs);

       Building entrepreneurial and leadership skills among the widest possible range of staff and students at ITMO University will be achieved through the:

·        Inclusion of cross-university entrepreneur and leadership courses into the  obligatory disciplines list and development of  entrepreneurship Master’s degree programs including ones within the authority of the newly founded Department of Technology Management and Innovation;

·        Full access of students and faculty to innovation events, including  technology brokers and fundraising school and inter-University business game “Marketing of Innovations”

Successful realization of  the innovation ecosystem enhancement strategic initiative is supported by its close connection with research block (detection of IP and R&D teams with high commercialization potential and with the capacity of solving specific business and industry problems) and education block (forming of soft skills).

Key projects providing innovation and entrepreneurship skills on the second stage are the following:

·        Venture (seed) foundation  -  financial instrument for R&D commercialization (see Appendix 11)

·        Annual international social entrepreneurship festival focused on the initiation of socially-oriented business projects, increasing  the number of University projects and improving ITMO University’s representatives’ soft skills (see Appendix 12)

·        Annual St. Petersburg Forum of spatial development – an initiative of ITMO University, aimed at formation of a harmonious development scenario for Saint Petersburg and its region as a unified social and economic environment (See Appendix 13)

Key aspects and instruments of implementation of the SI.5 are given in the table below:

Key Emphasis

Key Instruments

Creation of the portfolio of University’s innovative projects

Portfolio of University IP , regular technology audit

Pre-seedcorn foundation

Digest of the external finance sources for  university projects


Development of new innovative companies

Competitions of innovative projects

University’s own venture foundation

Partnership with leading industrial companies.

Enhancement of entrepreneurial culture

Seminars, training and meetings with renowned entrepreneurs and investors.

International festival of social entrepreneurship. 

Services of innovation infrastructure including technology brokerage.