Next year, the University of Tartu (UT) and Tallinn University of Technology (TUT) 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 that entrepreneurs could benefit from.
According to the representatives of the UT and TUT, the universities’ business cooperation has rapidly developed in the recent years and numerous spin-off companies and new practical forms of study have been created – interdisciplinary student teams develop and test ideas that are submitted by entrepreneurs.
T-HelpDesk, which would make the cooperation between universities and entrepreneurs quicker and more convenient, will be launched at the beginning of 2016. T-HelpDesk will give the enterprises an opportunity to address one single contact point if they have questions or problems. Within a week, the network will compile an overview of how Estonian universities could help the enterprise in solving a question or problem.
A joint service database will also be created and joint entrepreneurship days organized.
According to the UT Vice Rector for Development Erik Puura, some cooperation projects between universities and entrepreneurs are already functioning. For instance, the research of TUT on binding mixtures created on the basis of oil shale ash 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.
The universities are also planning to launch a practical continuing education program on intellectual property for entrepreneurs and create corresponding e-courses. Over the past 15 years, the universities have received plenty of practical experience in the legal protection and commercialization of inventions and they also have good legal competence.
Vice-Rector for Innovation and Internationalization of TUT Tea Varrak said that TUT has had a long and productive cooperation with entrepreneurs from both Estonia and abroad. “For instance, we have analyzed 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.”
The UT and TUT also plan to involve other universities and cooperation partners in the cooperation network.
Editor: S. Tambur