October 6, 2010, Astana – The Technology Commercialization Project is being officially launched today in Astana with high level participation from the Government of Kazakhstan and the World Bank.
The Project Road Show events are being held in 4 cities across Kazakhstan, October 4-8, 2010. The Road Show started in Almaty on October 4, continues in Karaganda on October 7, and concludes in Ust-Kamenogorsk on October 8.
This Project Road Show is jointly organized by the Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan and the World Bank in order to ensure wide dissemination across major scientific and academic centers in Kazakhstan regarding the Project’s objectives and future activities related to financing applied scientific research and technology commercialization.
The highlight of the Launch is an interactive panel with the participation of 6 distinguished International Science and Commercialization Board (ISCB) Members. This Board includes globally renowned experts who will provide scientific and commercialization oversight to the Project.
In his welcome speech the Minister of Education and Science Mr. Bakytzhan Zhumagulov noted: “We express our hopes that the Project will enable Kazakhstan to develop new, competitive science highly rated by international experts, and grow up young generation of talented scientists who will do their job with love and contribute to the country development. We are sure that the cooperation between the Government of Kazakhstan and the World Bank aiming to transfer scientific products of Kazakhstan to the global market is very timely and will be highly effective”.
The Technology Commercialization Project was designed to revamp the way science is conducted, perceived, and contributes to social and economic development in Kazakhstan. Owing to several innovative design features, the Project is well positioned to effectively restore important productive linkages between the scientific research and private sectors, thereby contributing to improved innovation and commercialization outcomes. It is aligned with the Government’s efforts to diversify and improve the regional and international competitiveness of the Kazakhstani economy.
“Science & technology is most effective when it is of high quality, integrated into global trends and relevant in local and international technology markets. – said Sebnem Akkaya, World Bank Country Manager for Kazakhstan. - This Project pilots a financing model that promotes scientific excellence among Kazakhstani scientists and provides support for commercialization of their technologies and penetration into global markets.”
Rationale and Objectives of the Project. In designing this Project the Government of Kazakhstan and the World Bank were guided by the need to demonstrate significantly improved scientific performance and commercial relevance of research performed by interdisciplinary teams of scientists selected through transparent competitive processes in line with international best practice. By using merit-based selection procedures, with the participation of the International Science and Commercialization Board Members, the Project aims to rebuild, strengthen and restructure segments of Kazakhstan’s research and data (R&D) base. The Board Members and the Technology Commercialization Office will help to link this rejuvenated R&D capacity and integrate it with national and international technology markets.
The total Project size is US$ 75 million, with Government of Kazakhstan contributions amounting to US$61.6 million with a World Bank loan of US$13.4 million, and comprises two key components:
Strengthening Kazakhstan’s Science Base. The Project makes available a total of USD 21 million to be allocated in competitive grant financing by the ISCB for as many as 20 high quality commercially-oriented R&D projects. These would be conducted by groups of senior scientists (up to USD 1.5 million for a period of 3 years) and junior researchers (up to USD 600,000). Additionally, world class research instrumentation and infrastructure would be developed in the International Materials Science Center (IMSC) based on the needs of finalist identified in the application process and approved by the ISCB.
Linking Science to Markets. Following the selection of the first batch of grantees the Project will aim to establish the Technology Commercialization Office (TCO), the main activities of which will include brokering partnerships between Kazakhstani scientists and local and international technology markets. It is proposed under this component to mobilize an international commercialization company to provide full range of services to the scientists to successfully implement projects in the commercial environment. The TCO contractor will also conduct a technological audit of the local science status and perspectives and preparing recommendations to the Government of Kazakhstan. A review of the existing legislative framework will be carried out with the findings and recommendations passed on to the relevant policy makers in Government. In addition, the potential contractor will provide technical assistance to Project Management Unit in designing additional pre-commercialization grant programs, joint scientific activities with international partners, international patenting and scientific-industrial practice.
It is expected that over 500 scientists, senior and junior researchers from leading R&D institutions and universities will participate in the Project Road Show events across Kazakhstan. Participants will engage in active discussions with the ISCB on issues related to commercialization of research and integration of Kazakhstani science into global trends. Some of the topics that will be covered include:
- Efficient utilization of public expenditures to leverage private investment
- Capacity of Kazakhstani firms to engage the research sector in technology upgrading and commercialization
- Ways to improve links with global markets
- Technology commercialization barriers and ways to overcome them
- Legislative framework in the field of intellectual property and technology commercialization issues
Among the expected outcomes of this 5-year Project is the development of a transparent, competitive, cross-disciplinary, problem-oriented financing model of research which is responsive to the modernization and diversification needs of the Kazakhstani economy. Some specific notable markers of success of the Project would include: the establishment of Senior Scientist Groups (SSG) and Junior Researcher Groups (JRG) encouraging participation of graduate students; the establishment of the IMSC; establishment of the TCO and awarding of grants for technology commercialization; completion of technology audits, legislative and regulatory review and the subsequent implementation of policy recommendations and revisions to legislation; and amount of licenses sold with the help of the TCO.
To this end the Ministry of Education and Science has established a central commercialization unit in the Ministry to liaise with the Project Management Unit (PMU) team that works jointly with the World Bank team to ensure seamless coordination of this important Project.