On October 8, 2010, American Councils for International Education hosted the first meeting of the multi-year initiative EURECA - Enhancing University Research and Entrepreneurial Capacity - composed of a U.S.-Russian consortium of NGOs. The program is designed to strengthen Russian National Research Universities' (NRUs) capacity to commercialize the results of their research, and foster entrepreneurial activity on their campuses. The new consortium is represented by the New Eurasia Foundation (FNE) of Russia, and by American Councils and the National Council for East European and Eurasian Research (NCEEER). The consortium is operating under the overall guidance of the U.S.-Russia Foundation (USRF) in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation (MOES). The program is managed in Russia by FNE and in the U.S. by American Councils and NCEEER.
"Over the past two years, Russia has undertaken several critical steps in making the transition to a knowledge economy," said Dan E. Davidson, president of American Councils. "The EURECA program launch raises the bar in U.S.-Russian higher education collaborations, providing a new means for substantive collaboration to advance scientific, economic and social causes."
The official EURECA launch ceremony was part of a ten-day event with collaborative partner sessions held from October 4-13. The program kicked off on October 4 in New Jersey, where Russian participants attended a three-day "Essentials of Technology Transfer" course, a core training of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM). Two-day partner meetings followed in Washington, D.C. on October 7 and 8 at American Councils' headquarters. During these meetings, university representatives from the U.S. and Russia developed preliminary strategic plans for the initial two-year pilot phase of EURECA.
The USRF expects to allocate $1.5 -$2 million m per year, with potential increase of up to $2.5 million in funding projects to be implemented jointly by U.S.-Russia university partnerships throughout EURECA's two-year pilot stage. 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. As such, they will be charged with developing and disseminating best practices in technology transfer among Russia's broader NRU community. EURECA plans to utilize international experts to support sustainable, long-term U.S.-Russian university collaboration. USRF envisions that the Russian NRUs' intellectual property will make the transition 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 - attended the EURECA launch on October 8. Among the guests were 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; The Honorable James Collins, USRF Chair of the Board of Trustees, former Ambassador to Russia; Mark Pomar, USRF President; Dan Mote, President Emeritus of the University of Maryland; Jim Jaffe, President and CEO of the National Association of Venture Funds among other education and industry leaders.
Founding long-term sustainable partnerships and developing modular projects were among the major topics on the Washington, D.C. meeting agenda. Through a preliminary survey offered to all universities and advanced needs assessment analysis by EURECA experts, the universities explored common interests and identified critical areas of mutually beneficial collaboration on a variety of projects. Among the outlined projects were 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 visited partner universities to tour their research facilities, technology transfer offices, and business incubators, as well as meet with potential collaborators including researchers, graduate students, and faculty members.
Upon returning to Russia, the U.S.-Russia university partnerships will engage in electronic and video-conference-supported sessions where they will continue to refine their drafts of strategic partnerships and modular projects. Those modular projects will form the basis of the two-year pilot collaboration and beyond.
For the full list of event attendees and information on EURECA launch