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Two innovation centers via Tempus program in Belarus by 2015
Two innovation centers will be set up in Belarus as part of the Tempus program by 2015, BelTA learned from Andrei German, Dean of the Physics and Technology Faculty of the Yanka Kupala State University of Grodno.

The innovation centers will be set up in Grodno Oblast and Vitebsk Oblast using premises of the Grodno university and the Polotsk State University within the framework of the relevant InnoLab project. Implemented as part of the Tempus program, the project envisages the establishment of the centers to use open innovations and research activities at enterprises as an education platform for the sake of raising the innovation potential and the activity of universities in post-socialist communities. Another three centers will be set up in Ukraine within the framework of the project. Several institutes, universities, and a business incubator of Ukraine take part in the project.

The centers are expected to foster ties between developers and consumers of innovative ideas, encourage cooperation between universities and enterprises, and promote the commercialization of innovations. The centers will use special software — the information and analysis web platform InnoLab, which is being developed by the Greek partner of the project — the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. In the future the platform will allow analyzing information about innovations in detail taking into account international practice. It will also allow building optimal cross ties between contractors and consumers in addition to coordinating innovation efforts of universities and enterprises.

Andrei German said that Belarusian participants of the project are curious about the European experience of the establishment of such centers. Such centers can be independent commercial entities or parts of universities. Estonia has had research and practice labs for a long time in addition to student business incubators and innovative startup platforms. In the European Union companies willing to implement innovative ideas of universities are granted preferential business terms and state support.

According to the Dean, for now in Belarus the scientific community does not completely understand peculiarities of the business environment. On the other hand, companies are insufficiently interested in using university knowledge. As part of the InnoLab project companies and universities in Grodno Oblast and Vitebsk Oblast were polled to assess their readiness for innovation work. At present results of the poll are being processed, but it is already obvious that the majority of companies view universities as a source of personnel, not a source of innovations. Companies themselves are not always ready to produce ideas, invest in the development of innovations, in patenting them and assimilating the ideas in manufacturing. Meanwhile, universities are supposed to promote applied research and include innovation management into the curriculum of a number of specialist fields. For the first time the Grodno university will introduce innovation management basics into the program of theoretical studies for senior students in some specialist fields in spring 2014.

An international seminar to highlight the project of the Tempus program was held in Grodno. The event gathered scientists and representatives of companies from the UK, Greece, Ukraine, and Belarus. The leading partner in the project is the University of Bradford, UK. The total budget of the InnoLab project is about ?864,000, the budget of the Grodno university is ?82,400, that of the Polotsk State University is ?95,900, including 10% as co-financing.
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