Some 30 presidents and rectors of Russian universities -- all from institutions in the Association of Leading Russian Universities, roughly the equivalent of the Association of American Universities -- are here this week for talks with the AAU, the State Department and individual universities as part of "The Entrepreneurial University Forum," which is also being backed by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, the American Councils for International Education and several foundations. Organizers said that this was the largest gathering in a long time of Russian and American university leaders.
This is a historic moment," said Elena Kudryashova, rector and
professor of philosophy of the Northern Arctic Federal University. "In
the last 15 years, our two countries have lost opportunities, especially
in areas of science and research." Kudryashova was among a group of the
rectors who visited Inside Higher Ed's offices after their meetings Wednesday to discuss what they saw as the significance of the collaborations.
said the ties between the Association of Leading Russian Universities
(a new group which is open only to a few dozen of the thousand-plus
universities in Russia) and the AAU are part of a broadening of ties
between Russian universities and the rest of the world. Her university
is located in Arkhangelsk, near the White Sea, and has already built
ties to the University of the Arctic, an organization of universities in
the northernmost countries -- and she came to Washington from Alaska,
where she was meeting with university officials.
The AAU ties
represent a chance to go beyond those with the geographic link to the
Arctic -- Kudryashova said she spent time Wednesday discussing research
collaborations that might start with the University of Kansas.
Domorad, managing director of field operations for the American
Councils, said that part of what American universities can bring to
these discussions is technology transfer. Only in 2009, she noted, did
Russian laws make it legal for the universities there to commercialize
Maksim Khomyakov, vice rector for
international affairs at Urals Federal University, said "we are just
creating the infrastructure" to promote technology transfer. Russian
universities are founding start-up companies and don't yet have the full
system for divvying up rights among various parties, but hope that this
first round of businesses paves the way for American-style technology
transfer, he said.
German Dyakonov, rector and professor of
chemistry at Kazan State Technological University, said he viewed
technology transfer as being among a number of ways Russian universities
are getting closer to those in the United States. He noted that, even
prior to the 2009 law, Russian universities were doing sponsored
research for companies. "We have big companies like Mitsubishi from
Japan spending a lot of money at Russian universities," he said, but
until recently not as much collaboration with foreign universities or
finding ways to advance research that wasn't sponsored by a company.
year, Kazan State sent dozens of faculty members and administrators to
Arizona State University to learn about university management. He said
that the university wanted them to get ideas, but also to realize that
"we have very different conditions." For example, he noted that Russian
universities do not have any tradition of receiving philanthropic
Already, he said, his institution has started more than
20 companies under the provisions of the 2009 law -- in fields such as
food production and fire-resistant paint, among other topics.
if any faculty members in Russia, like some of their counterparts in
the United States, object to technology transfer and to closer industry
ties, Dyakonov sounded like an American university president. "Right now
we get only one-third of our money from the federal government, so we
have to find ways to get the money from other possible sources," he
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From 'Reset' to Tech Transfer (Inside Higher Ed News)
Thu, Apr 14, 2011
A major foreign policy goal of the Obama administration has been to "reset" U.S.-Russian relations, building ties between the two nations at all levels. Several Russian university presidents on Wednesday said that the closer relationship was helping them build much closer ties to American higher education, with a focus on expanding research collaboration and embracing something close to an American style of technology transfer -- a relatively new development for Russia.