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A study for Estonian Materials Technology Programme, ordered by the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication, has been completed. The result is, due to the weak cooperation between universities and companies in Estonia, a big gap between university research & development and real business needs.
The study, “Feasibility Study for an Estonian Materials Technology Programme” produced by Spinverse Ltd., mapped the field of materials science capabilities and potential in academic research as well as the private sector. The study underlined the weak cooperation between universities and businesses, resulting in a big gap between university R&D and corporate needs. The study also highlighted the low level of corporate R&D activities and the small amount of skilled labor in the field of materials science and technology.
The results were presented on the 27th of May 2011 in Tallinn at a seminar arranged by Enterprise Estonia. In the seminar, business development manager Sven Lange from Estiko Plastar confirmed that the survey results truly reflect the real situation: “The gap between the private sector needs and academic ability is significant in Estonia. This is a key issue for Estonia if it wants to become a highly productive and competitive economy”. Tartu University professor Alvo Aabloo also agreed to the study’s findings and stressed the importance of raising the quality of education. One major obstacle, Aabloo says, is the fact that Estonian researchers and academics working on the evaluation criteria do not take into account the need to support viable businesses in Estonia.
Laura Kauhanen from Spinverse Ltd., a Finnish consulting firm who carried out the study, emphasized the study results and said that although the materials technology commercialization is time consuming, it can lead to wide-ranging benefits for the Estonian economy. “Traditional industry has to modernize their production processes and materials technology will play a big role here”, Kauhanen adds.
Despite the many obstacles to the development of some sectors of the economy in Estonia, it still has very strong potential in materials technology development and implementation. There are several outstanding research groups in universities and in high-tech sector there are successful examples of world-class innovation. Also, some companies from traditional industries have begun to acknowledge the important role of research and development and are seeking opportunities for collaboration with universities.