Scientific ‘hypermarket’ aims to house promising sci-tech ideas
The saying goes that giving those in need a fishing rod is more useful than giving fish. To support businesses, it’s necessary to teach the strategy of fishing, as well as how to cook fish and where to sell it at a profit. In establishing a database of promising sci-tech ideas and projects, specialists from the Belarusian National Technical University’s Polytechnic Technopark have used this approach.
In 2004, the Technopark realised a similar project for the Education Ministry and now has a new task: to add new functions to the already established portal. As a result, the latter will become a search and negotiation site for the University and country’s sectorial, branded and academic science, allowing industrial enterprises to place requests of science. Organisations such as the Industry Ministry and the Health Ministry are also keen to join the project.
Independent examination shows that others with similar search systems and databases still lag behind the Technopark, which unites resources and synchronises the promotion of developments. At present, the Polytechnic Technopark ensures up-to-the-minute support via its database, showing the many Belarusian universities’ developments. Virtual intellectual exchange is promoting projects by independent developers and the Belarusian Society of Inventors and Rationalisers; proposals are available at www.belarus-project.by.
“On organising meetings between scientific inventors and those interested in their application, we aren’t acting as a classical mediator paid for introducing would-be partners,” explains Polytechnic Technopark General Director, Yuri Alexeev. “We offer services free of charge. On being matched up, partners then conduct business independently, although we give help in preparing contracts, as well as legal, economic and information assistance. In working with a foreign partner, you need to understand the legislation of their country, while having an account in foreign currency. You need to be able to translate documents into foreign languages and solve many other tasks. However, everything you require, including the address of consultation agencies, is available on our site.”
Many are using the opportunity already. Of course, these services cost money — funded by the State Committee on Science and Technology. Nevertheless, the system is profitable for the state, enabling scientific centres to receive more orders, which raises tax revenue for the budget. Manufacturing sci-tech products — through the site’s mediation — is certainly profitable.
The database is simple to use, providing information on everyone taking part. To act as a seller or buyer, each user must register via the site’s application form. They then gain access to partners and can update their information at any time, order services and products, receive news updates on particular themes, browse information resources and conclude contracts. Each user is responsible for providing accurate information, since materials are not yet centrally monitored. Expert opinions are soon to be made available on topics which might qualify for state funding.
Users from 40 countries visit the database site at present, with the Education Ministry’s information-marketing section enjoying the greatest popularity (with visitors from 59 countries). Its ‘e-exchange’ has been operational for five years now, while the number of universities’ agreements with enterprises (via the site) has risen hundreds of times. The website hopes to see even greater popularity in the future.