Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs
The Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs was founded during the reorganization of the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies. It stimulates nanotechnology infrastructure building to support innovation in the country. The Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs primarily focuses its activity in these areas:
- Formation of infrastructure for nanotechnology
- Development of human resources for the nanoindustry
- Market development for nanotechnology products
- Improvement of the legislative framework for innovation
- Standardization and certification of nanoproducts and evaluation of their safety
- Refinements in metrology
- Popularization of nanotechnology and nano-enabled products.
The highest governing body of the fund is its Supervisory Council, which is chaired by Deputy Minister of Education and Science of the Russian Federation Alexey Ponomarev. In accordance with the charter of the fund, the council determines priorities for its activities, establishes its strategies, and sets its budget.
Nanotechnology centers (nanocenters) are an indispensible element of infrastructure for developing Russia’s nanoindustry. They incubate start-ups and prepare small innovative companies for market entry. The day-to-day functions of the nanocenters, which numbered 12 at the end of March 2012, include:
- Engineering development for nanotech products, experimentaldesign and experimental-technological work for commercial customers
- Intellectual property protection
- Management, patent, and marketing support to small innovative companies
- Technology licensing
- Testing and obtaining product certifications.
Nanocenters are organized to attract private capital. They offer opportunities for profitable investment thanks to the division of each center into three independent business units:
- A center for technology transfer
- A property asset, the physical space of the building
- A property asset, the equipment.
Nanocenters are selected through tenders organized by the Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs. By the end of the first quarter of 2012, twelve projects had been selected. Their budgets total $930 million of which RUSNANO will finance $450 million:
- Multifunctional nanotechnology center DUBNA, Moscow Oblast
- Nanotechnology center Nano- and Microsystem Equipment, Zelenograd
- Nanotechnology center SIGMA.Novosibirsk, Siberia
- Nanotechnology center SIGMA.Tomsk, Siberia
- Nanotechnology center Ulyanovskiy, Ulyanovsk
- Nanotechnology center TECHNOSPARK, Troitsk, Moscow Oblast
- Center for Nanotechnologies and Nanomaterials of the Republic of Mordovia, Saransk
- Nanotechnology Center of Composites, Moscow
- Nanotechnology center T-Nano, Moscow
- Northwestern Nanotechnology Center, St. Petersburg
- Nanotechnology center Idea, Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan
- Innovation Fund, Samara Region
Engineering companies develop technology and instruments and product prototypes on contract basis, using their own facilities and equipment to devise solutions for specific customers.
Engineering companies differ from manufacturing projects whose goals are to produce and sell products in the mass market. The work of an engineering company is usually unique for each customer and does not go into replication.
In the competitions that had been conducted through the first quarter of 2012, three companies were awarded rights to enter into investment agreements for engineering projects with the Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs:
- Institute for Spectroscopy, Russian Academy of Sciences, Troitsk, Moscow Oblast
- Smart Engineering, Moscow
- Noncommercial partnership Center for Innovative Energy Technology, Moscow.
The educational projects and programs of the Fund are focused on the development of human resources for the nanoindustry.
The development of further training programs for engineers and senior executives of nanotechnology companies, in line with the development of new technologies, is one of the major areas where the Fund interacts with the labour market. The scope of the programs is defined by the companies in accordance with their actual human resources needs. The educational programs have modular structure, and they consist of distance training programs, virtual simulators and training systems that ensure the minimum interruption of the work activities of trainees.
The Fund develops the professional standards for advanced engineering professions in nanoindustry—the regulations that can be used by nanotechnology companies as qualifying standards for professional training of experts. Those professional standards are also used as the basis for independent qualification assessment of engineers and technical personnel of the companies and graduates. The Fund develops the tests and learning activities for “professional exams”.
The Fund also arranges for the events designed to improve the image of scientific, engineering, technology and business activities among children and young people. Those events include RUSNANO School League designed to promote quality reforming of the natural science education in Russian schools. The Fund holds on regular basis the scientific and practical conferences; competitions; Nanograd vacation summer school; online academic competition “Nanotechnology—Breakthrough to the Future!” for school students, undergraduates, postgraduates and young scientists as pertaining to nanosystems, nanomaterials and nanotechnology; all-Russia national school Week for High Technology and Hi-Tech Business.