2019 02 20

Mission Possible with the Open R&D Lithuania Brand

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For four years now, the Open R&D Lithuania brand has presented Lithuania as an attractive and dynamic region in the global market for science, technology and innovation. The open access OPEN R&D Lithuania network unites the country’s state universities, research institutes, science and technology parks and open access centres, creating unique possibilities for scientists, researchers and technology transfer specialists to find partners or potential clients both in Lithuania and abroad, among a vast number of academic or research organisations as well as businesses.

From Artificial Intelligence to Civil Engineering

The Open R&D Lithuania network is curated by the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA) as well as the Lithuanian Ministry of Science and Education. The aim of the network, as Gintarė Narakienė, head of Open R&D Lithuania, emphasises is to promote cooperation with local and international business. The Open R&D Lithuania Contact Centre was set up specifically for this purpose – to help businesses find the relevant research services with greater ease. There is no need for businesses to wander, asthe Contact Centre operates through a single-window system. An emailed enquiry is enough to solicit a timely response: who the company should contact that would suit their business needs, from research and measurement to the development of new products and technology.

This year alone, more than 100 enquiries were received from businesses across Lithuania and the entire world. Their geographical range was quite broad: enquiries were received from the US, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, China, India, Pakistan Israel, Ukraine, Luxembourg, Germany and the neighbouring Poland and Belarus. Organisations showed an interest in fields such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, smart devices and cities, self-driving cars, 3D printing, new materials, food technology, wind power, electronic device development, mechatronics, medical technology and civil engineering.

And members of Open R&D Lithuania were fully up to the task of providing such a range of services. Universities, research institutes, science and technology parks and open access centres provide a range of over 2.5 thousand services.

Opening Up the World’s Markets

“Last year we started participating in one of the world’s largest industry fairs, Hannover Messe, in Germany. We’ve already reserved a space for the coming year,” says Narakienė, “Every year we get better. This year we attracted the interest of companies like Samsung and Huawei. The team is now working out the details of potential orders”.

After CIFTIS, the Beijing-based international service fair, the Lithuanian scientific community could celebrate very positive results – a cooperation agreement was signed between Vytautas Magnus University (VDU) and China Agricultural University. Arrangements are also being made to sign cooperation agreements between the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences (LSMU), VDU and the Central Medical University in Beijing. The details are currently being negotiated. According to the head of Open R&D Lithuania, opportunities are opening up to enter the vast Chinese market.

There are plans to participate in WorldFood 2018 in Kiev, Ukraine in late October. The focus of the fair will be Open R&D Lithuania: Innovative Food Technology for the Food Industry, a conference organised by MITA. Several areas will be presented: developing new functional substances, food product production technology, creating innovative food products and functional food.

At the beginning of December, Lithuanian scientists will be participating in BioFit, a biotechnology fair in France. Lithuanian researchers will be presenting their services and technology in fields such as personalised and regenerative medicine, stem cells and advanced medication therapy, pre-clinical and clinical studies, molecular medicine and biopharmaceutical technology, advanced medical engineering and veterinary science.

In June of the coming year, the scientific community plans to participate in TechConnect World Innovation in Boston, USA. Lithuanian scientists and scientific managers are keen participants of such events and see them as valuable. Open R&D Lithuania takes care of the display stands, the organisational demands of the conference and attracting an audience. Meanwhile, scientists can focus on the effective presentation of their technology, innovation and services.

Lithuania Not Forgotten

“We thought that in Lithuania everyone knew about our universities and the services we provide to companies, that our work can generate great added value for business development. However, the more we speak to people, the clearer it becomes that a lot of work still has to be done in Lithuania with regard to promoting and presenting the possibilities and services our scientists can offer. We have to turn back to Lithuania so we can move forward,” reveals Gintarė Narakienė, head of the network.

For example, this fall, the organisation hosted two science business breakfasts for this exact purpose. In Kaunas, guests talked about food and agrotechnology. The main theme of the event was From Lab to Kitchen. In Vilnius, the theme of the science business breakfast was dedicated to smart cities – The Future Home: Smart Houses and Structures. Scientists took several minutes to introduce themselves, what field they worked in and what they can offer to business. These brief introductions were followed up by casual conversation. Company representatives could immediately discuss the ideas that came to them with the scientists and arrange future meetings.

“MITA organises quite a few events in Lithuania through the Open R&D Lithuania network so that scientists can network, meet new companies and present their area of expertise,” explains Robertas Armonaitis, project manager of technology transfer at the KTU National Innovation and Business Centre, “Another avenue for making contact with various companies is through the Open R&D Lithuania Contact Centre. We receive business enquiries at least several times a month from it”.

More Visible and Recognisable

However, what the KTU representative emphasised most was the support Open R&D Lithuania provides to researchers and project managers travelling abroad to build new relationships and attract foreign companies to Lithuania. For example, an agreement has already been signed between KTU and the Potsdam Technology Centre on their role as mediator in the search for potential clients in Germany.

Another very useful aspect, according to Armonaitis, is the various joint visits organised by MITA through the network. In September of this year, during a business mission in Stuttgart, a relationship was established with the digital innovation centre Softwarezentrum. The two parties are now discussing possibilities for exchanging experience and a visit by representatives of the centre to Lithuania.

Many contacts were made over the two years of participation at the Hannover Messe fair in Germany. The Lithuanian scientific community hopes that they will continue to develop into successful negotiations and contracts.

“Most of our travels have taken us to Germany. That is where our main market lies. Germany is the European leader in automation, robotics and electronics, especially if the field is in any way linked to the automotive industry. We are concentrating on this direction because large companies like Continental and Hella are coming in,” says the KTU representative.

Useful Initiatives

Laima Matusevičienė, head of the LSMU Development Service also praised the opportunities provided by Open R&D Lithuania to travel abroad for exchanges and fellowships. They have proved to be very useful.

“From the very beginning, when Open R&D Lithuania was set up, we were very active participants of all its initiatives, and we believe that they are currently some of the best opportunities for Lithuanian scientists, researchers and technology transfer managers to present the achievements of our scientific community abroad,” asserts the LSMU representative.

For example, one such initiative was a business exchange to Japan. Now LSMU is working on a good number of joint projects with the universities of Kumamoto and Hiroshima. These projects will result in various kinds of medical innovations.

“Our participation in European and American trade fairs has led to us making several great contacts. For example, we have started collaborating with Cerner, an American medical technology provider. Through the Open R&D Lithuania network we have had the opportunity of seeing the healthcare solutions that they use in Graz, Austria. At the moment, we are working on a pilot project that focuses on using and managing medical data to create healthcare innovations. We are negotiating with more than five companies in various EU countries for the licensing and application of the innovations we’ve created,” reveals Matusevičienė.

In Lithuania and Abroad

According to Vilma Purienė, head of the Knowledge and Technology Transfer Centre at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (VGTU), the greatest benefit Open R&D Lithuania has to offer lies in Lithuania. It helps the scientific community reach Lithuanian business, provides additional opportunities for monetizing knowledge, innovation, technology and services. Many companies looking for certain services are referred to the university through the Open R&D Lithuania Contact Centre. For example, they are currently negotiating with three companies whose enquiries we received since September.

“Through the Open R&D Lithuania network we have also had the opportunity to reach international partners, participate in various industry fairs and business missions. For a single university the financial burden would be too great. Open R&D Lithuania allows us to share the risk, the costs and our resources,” insists the VGTU representative, “The Open R&D Lithuania brand is still young, but they do a lot to promote their work, so more people are becoming aware of it. When you enter the international market, it works well if you can not only present your own university, but introduce an entire network of core competences. It shows that we are open to various forms of cooperation and combining our forces with other universities in order to do commissioned work.”


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