- Sergey, what a prototyping center is and how the “Triple Helix” model works here?
- The Prototyping Center is a transition from a prototype model to the mass production. Our Prototyping Center of items from composite materials and coatings application, opened on March 15, 2011, was established to support small and medium enterprises engaged in innovation activities. This is a joint project of The Ministry of Economic Development, Government of St. Petersburg, Polymer Cluster and the St. Petersburg State University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics (ITMO). The Prototyping Center establishment was invested by the polymer cluster, the St. Petersburg budget and The Ministry of Economic Development. SPbSU ITMO provided the part of the equipment to the Center through ITMO basic chair, which is opened at the LLC Plant "KP".
The equipment is a significant component of the successful Prototyping Center work. However, people who work there are the most important component. In this matter we were lucky enough to engage cooperation with ITMO and the Higher School of Economics at SPbSUEF. These departments prepare for us a team of specialists, including post-graduates (science), engineers (production) and managers (economy) with a basic technical education. These guys have studied at ITMO and have participated in research-and-development activities for the Prototyping Center. Now they earn money using their R&D at the Prototyping Center, write research theses and teach students the practical work in our Base Department.
In the future, some of them will teach at the university, somebody will be invited to work at the public office. Thus, we can see a coherent string of logic: education at the university - practical study (in part due to the city budget) - work in the Center – knowledge and skills transfer to young people - economy management. This is how the "Triple Helix" works: when a company is able to order R&D to the university, a university is ready to do this research, to train personnel and to educate leaders who will implement this research. The state co-finance the process, as its support is indispensable at some steps. But all the invested money is given back by raising taxes.
- Is it possible to find out more about results of your work?
- We will report about it at the roundtable discussion “Triple Helix” model benefits for Russia innovative development” in the business program of the Forum "Russian Industrialist - 2011". At this forum we will tell about the basic department of ITMO established under the Polymer Cluster, about our work experience, we will also show samples, etc.
- What do you think about weak spots of the classical technical education?
- We must eliminate the huge gap between the classical technical university and the real research institute or the real production. The weak spot of the classical technical education is the situation when people come to work and don’t understand how to make money on their knowledge. Unfortunately, our project is one of the few in the city. And they must be dozens.
- What is the current Prototyping Center load ratio and what are its prospects?
- We already have more orders now than we can execute. At the moment there aren’t companies in the city with enough competencies to bring a project from concept to realization in a limited edition. That’s why we think about staff increase and new equipment purchase.
Now we have a large R & D with "Vodokanal of St. Petersburg", where we implement new coatings, and a project with CSRI named after A.N. Krylova on the use of modern shipbuilding de-icing materials. We will continue to work with Russian Railways, RUSNANO and other public and private institutions. What about our city, we can offer the latest technologies in anti-corrosion and other protective treatment of the buildings elements (roofs, attics, basements), resolve the problem of energy conservation. Unfortunately, the Housing Committee continues to consider our proposals. I hope that the gubernatorial election will cardinally change the situation and the attitude to Russian know-how.
I’d like to emphasize another near term prospect for the Prototyping Centre development. An international company TomasGroup, business consultant of leading companies in the world, will conduct training on business processes for our specialists. The experts of this company believe that our Center (in case of specialization in nanotechnology for structural materials and coatings creation) should become the leader among 145 world's leading prototyping centers. As a result, our project should become self-developing: we begin to engage more and more resources and complete the increasing number of tasks.
published at “St.Petersburg in the Mirror”