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FEATURE STORY April 14, 2020

Innovation in Kazakhstan: From Ideas to Impact

MULTIMEDIA

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Whether it happens among students in a classroom or engineers in a laboratory, innovation is a process that begins with an idea and results in transformative trends and business start-ups that can boost a country’s economic development. 

For Kazakhstan, innovation has the potential to unleash the private sector as the country strives to build a more diversified and competitive economy.

Launched by the Kazakh Ministry of Education and Science and the World Bank, and building on the impressive achievements of the Bank’s Technology Commercialization Project over the past 12 years, the Fostering Productive Innovation Project (FPIP) promotes and develops commercial innovations in Kazakhstan by providing grants to entrepreneurs and start-ups seeking to improve the quality of people’s lives.

The primary objective of the FPIP for Kazakhstan is to promote high-quality, nationally relevant research on, and the commercialization of, new technologies.


"Such innovation grants designed to foster productive innovation financed by the Science Committee and the World Bank are in great need in Kazakhstan. They just change our thinking as scientists. This project changed our thinking into believing that any scientific development could be commercialized in order to bring benefits to people."
Almagul Kakimzhanova
Almagul Kakimzhanova
Leading specialist in the molecular biology of plants and a successful recipient of one of the competitive innovation grants, “Greenlab,” provided under the FPIP

The projects that receive the inclusive innovation consortia grants are varied in their nature and application.

“X-matrix,” which produces biological dressings with highly efficient healing properties for the treatment of burns and wounds based on an extracellular xenogenic matrix, is one of the many successful grantees. A leading researcher at X-matrix, Kabylbek Abugaliyev, is a fervent advocate of recruiting young researchers to help him in his research and development of biological dressings for treatment solutions for large wounds.


"The involvement of young researchers was a precondition for participation in the project. Therefore, three young researchers work in our project now. They are the future potential of our country. They are involved in the process and jointly with us conduct scientific research. At the end of the project we want to promote scientific personnel who not only pursue science but also know the nuances of commercialization and document management. Therefore, I think that this project offers an incentive to cultivate young scientists, though not just scientists but those scientists who could commercialize their scientific knowledge. I think that it is very valuable experience."
Kabylbek Abugaliyev
Kabylbek Abugaliyev
Leading researcher, X-matrix

ReLive, a start-up company based at Nazarbaev University, has developed a unique platform designed to rehabilitate patients after a stroke through groundbreaking artificial intelligence–supported neuro-rehabilitation robotic software.


"We developed an exoskeleton with intelligent controls. We also managed to read the signal from the brain."
Beibit Abdikenov
Beibit Abdikenov
Project leader, ReLive

The United Nations has recognized the start-up’s invention as one of the world’s top 20 innovative solutions.

The FPIP has helped to improve the quality of scientific research in Kazakhstan and its relevance to market needs, research and development spending, and collaboration between universities and industry.

The project has also strengthened the capacity of key institutions of the National Innovation System by introducing market-oriented approaches to the selection and support of innovation projects and technology start-ups. Moreover, it has contributed significantly to the country’s ability to effectively collaborate in funding international-level research and development and in changing the mindset of the scientific community and policy makers to look more closely at Kazakhstan’s economic development through direct engagement and dialogue with the private sector.



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