PetrSU Rector Anatoly Voronin on the Prospects for Cooperation with Finland
“This was a successful visit,” said Anatoly Voronin, the Rector of Petrozavodsk State University when commenting on the results of the visit to Finland, which the official delegation of the Republic of Karelia took on June 7-8.
Anatoly Voronin told about the meetings, agreements, planned projects:
- The primary goal of the visit to the country is to present economic and innovative capacities of our Republic, establish long-term and mutually beneficial partnerships that usually involve signing contracts. These agreements will in their turn attract investment to the Republic.
Petrozavodsk State University, the Flagship University of the Republic of Karelia, is one of the driving forces of innovative development in the Republic. Almost half of the innovative enterprises of our region are the SMEs established with the participation of the university. The SMEs work on commercialization of intellectual property of the university. Now there are 34 such enterprises.
In particular, we presented the Finnish colleagues the activities of the Opti-soft company headed by Anton Shabaev.
The Opti-soft develops production planning systems, first of all for forestry enterprises, pulp-and-paper plants and machine construction companies. Currently, the company has around 40 projects under its belt. Among the customers are both Karelian (Konodopozhsky and Segezhsky pulp-and-paper plants) and Russian companies (Bratsky, Krasnoyarsky and Ust-Ilimsky forestry enterprises, OOO Verest-1 (Saint Petersburg), OOO Granit (Pavlovsky Posad), OOO Yaroslavsky Karton etc.).
The regional administration appreciates our efficient work on the generation of new, modern information and innovative technologies in various areas and supports us, strives to promote them, and this visit proved this true.
- What meetings have you had and can we already talk about specific agreements and results?
- We have held a series of meetings with the representatives of Finnish companies and the business community. PetrSU was represented at the meetings by the Advisor to the Rector of PetrSU Valery Shliamin, Anton Shabaev, Sergey Kirilin (leading specialist of the Opti-soft). We have negotiated with the colleagues from the Pöyry Company (one of the world leaders in the project and consulting services for forestry enterprises). Currently, we prepare a bilateral agreement with the Pöyry Company. Another agreement will be signed with the Indufor Oy (the company specializes in the optimization of technologies for forestry enterprises). We have already signed an agreement with the Karelian wood company.We met the CEO of the Finnish Sawmills Association Kai Merivuori and discussed prospect for cooperation. We have reached an agreement to compile a list of wood harvesting and timber processing enterprises of Suomi. The employees of the Opti-soft will then visit the companies and present their services and products and determine whether they meet the production requirements of the Finnish colleagues.
Besides that, the Vice-President of the Raute Oyj (one of the leaders in manufacturing equipment for plywood factories) confirmed that the developed at PetrSU end-to-end planning system Opti-Plywood is relevant and should be studied further. Currently, the Opti-soft is customizing this system at a Russian enterprise, while the Raute completes its equipment installation with the use of it. We have agreed to use this project to practice the cooperation, as our innovative solution can be demanded at plywood factories in different countries. Thus, we are starting a big and ambitious project with yet another world leader.
- Have you discussed cooperation outside forestry and presented innovations of PetrSU in other areas?
- Of course, we tried to present the whole range of the technologies and products we have.
Thus, at the meeting of the Head of the Republic of Karelia with Pekka Kuusniemi, the CEO of the Raisio Company (fish feed producer since 1981) we have reached preliminary agreements for cooperation in the field of fish farming and fish feed production. The Head of Karelia assigned the Ministry of Fishery and Agriculture jointly with Petrozavodsk State University to develop a document on cooperation with the Raisio Company and sign it in the nearest future.
I should note that in the framework of the Flagship University Development Program, PetrSU is implementing the strategic project Comprehensive science and technology and import-substituting approach to the development of agriculture and fish farming in the region, which stipulates broadening the range of import-substituting equipment for aquaculture, feed and supplements production, fish processing. In close cooperation with the enterprises, we introduce food innovations to ensure food security in the region.
Another important meeting from the perspective of possible cooperation was with the representatives of the Valio Company (Valio is the largest dairy company in Northern Europe).
The meeting involved Artur Parfenchikov, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of Karelia for Social Issues Larisa Podsadnik and the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Issues Dmitry Rodionov, the Deputy Head of the Directorate for Innovation and Production of PetrSU Aleksey Shtykov, the Head of Business Development of the TD Yarmarka Company Sergey Lobsky.
At the meeting, PetrSU and Yarmarka presented their joint project “Research and development of end-to-end manufacturing process of functional food products to ensure food security in the northern regions of Russia”, supported by the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia. In the framework of the project, we create an analytical laboratory for research and safety evaluation of raw material and food products. The laboratory will develop innovative natural food products made with ingredients produced in Russia. The representatives of Valio expressed their interest in joint research that the Finnish company has been doing for many years.
- One of the highlights of the official visit of the Karelian delegation was the business seminar at the Trade Mission of the Russian Federation in Finland. Has it stirred interest among the business community and organizations of Finland?
- Yes, and it is evident through the number of participants (over 70 representatives of Finnish and Russian business communities) and the number of questions. Indeed, this event helped to hold a comprehensive presentation of innovative capacities of our Republic and PetrSU.
During our presentation “Cooperation of Petrozavodsk University with Business”, we spoke not only about the research work of the university but of actual products, specific projects in the areas of automation of technological processes, fish farming, medicine, food industry, IT, microelectronics and other projects supported by the state and business. The total amount of the projects is millions of euro. We have great examples of cooperation with Finnish companies. Metso, Valmet, Outotex are our reliable, long-standing partners.
We also signed an agreement between Petrozavodsk State University and Joensuu Regional Development Company JOSEK. This autumn we start joint implementation of projects within the ENI program.
- You have mentioned already that the university develops a large amount of intellectual property. Access to the European and world markets will require new forms of protection. Is the university ready for this?
- The university has been doing a lot in this area. Tomorrow we are hosting the seminar of the World Intellectual Property Organization aimed to assist inventors and innovators in securing their inventions abroad. Besides that, during the visit to Finland, we have met representatives of a company that has long been involved in intellectual property protection in European and Asian markets. We have already received a letter with proposals for cooperation.
- To sum up, not in the context of the number of meetings held, agreements signed and projects planned, what was the visit like?
- To me, it was a successful visit. On the one hand, the communication with Finnish colleagues made it clear that they have an earnest interest in the developments of the university. Of course, the Finnish academic community knows PetrSU well, but we aspire to be recognized in business circles too, as they are our clients. We will continue working in this direction.
The first step was taken prior to the visit. The largest Finnish business magazine Talouselämä (Economic Life) featured an interview with Olga Derbeneva, the Head of the Directorate for Innovation and Production, and Valery Shliamin. The article introduces readers to the university, its activities, IT-Park, projects and Finnish partners of the university.
Moreover, the visit showed that similar presentation of innovative capacities of the university and economic attractiveness of the Republic can be done in other countries that have Embassies and Trade Missions of Russia.
I will reiterate that the visit was essential both in the context of establishing new contacts, negotiating and signing agreements and in the context of self-assessment. We have world-class, commercially viable products, as well as resources for further development in this area.
I am convinced that the business visit of Karelia to Finland has played a vital part in the development of regional economics of Karelia and our university.