Tomsk U-NOVUS – the Territory of Intelligence and Creativity of Youth

The first All-Russian Forum of Young Scientists U-NOVUS was the most important event of the last week in Tomsk and one of the country’s most notable events in 2014. The participants of the XV Tomsk Innovation Forum INNOVUS came up with the idea to conduct a forum for young people. I want to note with appreciation the efforts put by the Administration of the Tomsk Region, the principal organizer of U-NOVUS, into creating the attractive image of Tomsk as of the scientific and educational center for youth.

The successful “Interra” (Novosibirsk) and “Seliger” (Tver Region) forums are just not enough for such big country as Russia. “Seliger”, in particular, has always been oriented first of all to developing social and political activity of youth, not to its intellectual and innovation potential. Russia is short of places where young researchers and entrepreneurs can gather along with experts and investors in order to discuss problems and possible ways of collaboration. The basic goal of U-NOVUS is to create such platform for communicating and exchanging ideas. This specific purpose has provided it with a niche among other scientific and business communication platforms for young people. Over 800 young researchers form 64 Russian regions took part in the open ceremony. Around 1 300 people registered as participants.

I consider this experience as a very successful one: the program consisted of diverse, new formats and was developed with regard to the interests of young people and of those, who represented the older generation of scientists, innovators, managers, and entrepreneurs. It included round tables, contests, panel discussions, creative laboratories, strategic sessions, scientific team games. One of the main activities was the exhibition of young scientists’ works such as new devices or new technologies for Russian economy and its production processes. Young Master degree and post-graduate students from TSU made us happy with three projects: microwave scanner for scanning commercial cargos, new technology for extracting allantoin, and technology for extracting of glycolic acid of high purity.

It is necessary to admit a couple of events scheduled as parts of the Forum: the flash-mob with 3 000 participants gathered to entertain the audience and to present the statement “Study in Tomsk!” and the unique show “Science Slam” held in “Fakel” night-club. I believe, those are very good ways to attract young people’s attention to the opportunity of getting education of high quality in our city and to the future scientific and research work.

The participants had an opportunity to attend the open lecture of Ivan Bortnik, the Executive Director of the Association of Innovative Regions of Russia and the General Director of the Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises in Science and Technology. His lecture was dedicated to the views on the innovation development of Russia. It is peculiar that U-NOVUS coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Foundation.

As always, Ivan Bortnik made us reflect on various things. It made me think once again about the model of development of our university. Obviously, the very “nature” of a classical university is oriented to maintaining fundamentality, which is above time and does not bring immediate results. Unfortunately, this mission has not been realized yet on the governmental level. To be more accurate, it is applicable to two universities – Moscow State University and Saint-Petersburg State University. That is why we are forced to provide students with fundamental knowledge and to search for funds and programs with completely different ideology. I would call it an “applied knowledge pragmatism”. Ivan Bortnik’s speech actualized the necessity to find a rational balance between reaching “pure” knowledge and profit.

It is possible, that the situation becomes less dramatic if we consider “research” as a “demanded knowledge”. In this case, classical research university becomes engine for culture and for economy as well. It produces not only “abstract” knowledge, but also “life-compatible” knowledge. Our university has very strong fundamental basis. However, the challenges of the present leave us no choice but to develop one more competence – producing applied knowledge. Thus, we are thinking over such model of classical university which could allow to combine those two competences and make them complete each other.