Next year, the University of Tartu and Tallinn University of Technology will launch T‑HelpDesk – a joint cooperation network for university-industry relations – to improve cooperation between research institutions and businesses.
The universities have plenty of technology and know-how the use of which could benefit entrepreneurs and according to the representatives of the UT and TUT, the universities’ business cooperation has rapidly developed in the recent years. In addition, numerous spin-off companies and new practical forms of study have been created: interdisciplinary student teams develop and test ideas submitted by entrepreneurs.
To introduce the opportunities offered by universities to the entrepreneurs even better and to make cooperation quicker and more convenient, the UT and TUT are preparing a new network T‑HelpDesk, which will be launched at the beginning of the next year. The UT and TUT also plan to involve other universities and cooperation partners in the cooperation network. T-HelpDesk will give the enterprises an opportunity to address one single contact point if they have questions or problems. Within one week, the network will compile an overview of how Estonian universities could help the enterprise in solving the question or problem.
Also a joint service database will be created and joint entrepreneurship days will be organised. Vice-Rector for Innovation and Internationalisation of TUT Tea Varrak wants to hold the first joint event together with Enterprise Estonia already in autumn 2015.
According to the UT Vice Rector for Development Erik Puura, already now the best cooperation projects with entrepreneurs have resulted from the cooperation of several universities. For instance, the research of TUT on binding mixtures created on the basis of oil shale ash and UT studies and estimates of the quality of groundwater have helped Estonian energy companies to turn oil shale ash, normally considered a hazardous waste, into a valuable product. However, so far, enterprises have had to identify the required competences of the universities themselves to invite them to the joint project. Once the new cooperation network starts work, the universities will find the required and complementing competences quickly themselves.
The universities are also planning to launch a practical continuing education programme on intellectual property for entrepreneurs and create the corresponding e-courses. Over the past 15 years, the universities have received plenty of practical experience in the legal protection and commercialisation of inventions and they also have good legal competence. “This knowledge and skills must be transferred to the business sector,” said Puura.
Tea Varrak added that TUT and especially Mektory has had a long and productive cooperation with entrepreneurs from both Estonia and abroad. “For instance, we have analysed the data of electric cars together with Mitsubishi and created a student laboratory for mobile apps in cooperation with Estonian IT companies. However, if two universities join forces to cooperate with businesses, the synergy arising from the joined competences as well as opportunities are significantly greater.”
Erik Puura, UT Vice Rector for Development, tel: +372 737 4802, email: email@example.com.
Tea Varrak, TUT Vice-Rector for Innovation and Internationalisation, tel: +372 620 3527, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.