The Process of the Formation of an Entrepreneurial University in Russia


Nataliya Ivashchenko

Nataliya Ivashchenko is currently Head of the Innovative Economics department at Lomonosov Moscow State University,and a member of the Council of Experts of the Higher Attestation Commission of Russia on Economics. She also participates in Lomonosov Moscow State University’s committee on scientific issues, and is the representative of the Moscow State University’s School of Economics in Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs




Tatiana Pospelova

Tatiana Pospelovais a PhD student at the School of Economics of Lomonosov Moscow State University. Her main research  activities are concentrated on the theory of Triple Helix and the  possibility of the implementation of this concept in Russia. Tatiana  is currently on training in California, where she is engaged in  research aimed determining the machinery that contributes to the  establishment of innovative clusters in Silicon Valley.





The prospects of social and economic development and the maintenance of high economic growth rates in Russia, with its great intellectual and industrial potential, are related to the realization of its potential, and to the development of sectors of high technology, while overcoming its dependence on the export of raw materials. The transfer to a science intensive economy is one of the main goals the Russian Government has set for society. In this new system, organizations producing new knowledge related to research and development, and those that spread knowledge and offer novel ways of their practical commercialization, play a key role. In Russia, such organizations include research institutions, universities, laboratories, scientific production units of companies, and small innovation companies. Along with this, the country’s progress depends on the availability of new ideas and breakthrough technologies, and also on the speed, with which those technologies get commercialized to market, and are turned into new products.

Many recent research studies are devoted to the problem of the new role of universities,that are regarded as being among the key tools for the support and the reinforcement of innovative development. In addition to education and research(which are the two primary functions of the university), the university is gaining a third function – an  entrepreneurialone, related to the commercialization of products from research activities. The entrepreneurial university is the next step following on from the implementation of the research university model that will enable a balance between science, education and innovation. So far, Russia is at the initial stage of the formation of entrepreneurial universities.

During the last several years, the program of building entrepreneurial universities has been in the process of step-bystep implementation. At present, the preparation stage is completed, and as early as last year the stage of the implementation of the program was started. However, it is worth mentioning the existence of the first early results. The active participation of the State in the formation of the program evidences its interest, thus enabling a long-term forecast on the success of the project.

State Policy, aimed at the formation of Innovative Activities in Russian Institutions of Higher Education, as a stage in the organization of Entrepreneurial Universities

This policy was initially brought about by the transfer of the country to the economy based on market relations, and was directed towards solving the problem in the area of creation and application of research and technology data. Higher education institutions were the principal and prime participants in the key state programs, aimed at the development of innovative entrepreneurship.1

Since 2008, the Government of Russia has been paying more and more attention to the development of innovative activities in the country. Considerable attention to the problems of the formation of the innovative economy was demonstrated in the address of the President of the Russian Federation, D Medvedyev, to the Federal Assembly in 2009. Specific actions, directed towards the development of the Russian economy, and related to the innovative growth, were specified in the “Conception of long-term social and economic development of the Russian Federation till 2020”, approved by the Government of Russia. Thus, since that time, the foundations were laid at governmental level for the establishment of the integration between science, the State, and business communities, and for the emergence of higher education institutions as leading participants of this interaction process. The main trends of public policy, aimed at the formation of the industrial university in this area include the following:

1) Change in the types of higher education institutions, identification of universities of governmental importance.

The above-mentioned changes contributed to the creation of conditions for the higher education institutions to get involved in innovative activities, and to build on their basic centers of economic and social growth in the regions, and in certain sectors of industry. The key goal consists of the development of interaction between higher education institutions and industry and scientific organizations, as well as the development of research, scientific, and infrastructure basis of higher education institutions. Such estimated figures must undoubtedly encourage innovative activities, and contribute to the increase in innovative actions.

2) Approval of federal law №217-ФЗof 2 August 2009 «On the application of amendments to certain legislative acts of the Russian Federation concerning the issues of the establishment of business companies by government-financed academic and educational institutions in order to practically apply (to introduce) the products of intellectual activity»

The main purpose of the law mentioned above, is to provide actual adoption in products and services, of the results of research and technology activities, developed atthe expense of state funds, and legally belonging to government-financed institutions of science and education. The initiatives are rather substantial for the development of the processes of commercialization of the products of research and technology activities of higher education institutions. At present, Russian institutions of higher education have established over 1700 business companies,2 complying with the criteria of this law.

3) Governmental support for the development of the innovative infrastructure in federal educational institutions of higher professional education (by Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation №219 of 9 April 2010).

The Decree stipulated governmental support for the development of the innovative infrastructure in educational institutions by means of the provision of funds from federal budget in the region of $2.6 billion, including $100 million in 2010 , $67 million in 2011 , and $100 million in 2012.

State funds, allocated from the governmental support for the development of the innovative infrastructure in educational institutions are provided to cover the expenses for the improvement of the innovative infrastructure (business incubators, industrial parks, industrial park zones, innovation and technology centers, engineering centers, certification centers, centers of technology transfer, multiple-access centers, centers of research and technology information, centers of innovative consulting, and other elements of innovative infrastructure) and their equipment in modern facilities.

Thus, contemporary state policy is aimed at the innovation and implementation activities of Russian higher education institutions, which is a preparatory stage towards building entrepreneurial universities.

One of the results of the policy pursued led to an important event related to the formation of entrepreneurial universities in Russia is the establishment of the Association of entrepreneurial universities of Russia that was signed on 28 September 2011.3

The Association contributes to the promotion of Russia’s foremost experience in entrepreneurship, to the formation of public policy; the active introduction products of intellectual activities into the processes of technology transfer and the commercialization, as well as in the development of efficient partnership between governmental bodies and businesses within the framework of the «Triple Helix» model».


Principal tendencies in the building of Entrepreneurial Universities

For leading Russian universities, the implementation of the model of the industrial university is related to their strategic priorities and guidelines. For an industrial university, location and the level of maturity of innovative and technological policy in the regions are crucially important.4As established historically, due to the large territory of the country, the greater part of higher education institutions are concentrated in its capital, the city of Moscow, while less are located in the regions, though still it is a whole system that embraces the whole country’s territory. The building of an industrial university requires availability of large amounts of resources in, which most Russian higher education institutions lack. Therefore, it is necessary to learn how to unite with strategic partners, such as universities, technological platforms, state corporations.

  • ·Cooperation with Technological Platforms5

Technological platforms need entrepreneurial universities as a source of project culture, a source of graduate students, who can handle several technologies simultaneously and develop designs. Technological platforms regard innovative territorial clusters as subsidiary support for the development of the patterns for project packages, and from the necessity of transfer of functions and rights of rule-making to project groups, working on the breakthrough technologies.

  • Cooperation with State Corporations

The cooperation between entrepreneurial universities and governments is built on the basis of the “open innovations” model. In order for the sectors to pass to a new technological level, it is necessary to involve universities, since big companies cannot react to the changes in time. This leads to their lagging behind their international competitors. Therefore, corporations need to be able to access the research function of universities, and are capable of placing large orders on R&D.

  • Cooperation with Institutions of Development

This is concerned with the formation of market relations. It is important, that universities actively introduce their leading scientific research data and intellectual property into the market. In Russia, Institutions are ready to work  together with academic groups (professors and students) on the projects of mutual interest.

First Results: Building of Entrepreneurial Universities illustrated by two examples of Higher Education Institutions

Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU)

MSU is a first-rate university in Russia, established in 1755. The University represents an academic town, comprising fifteen research institutions, forty  schools, over three-hundred departments, and six branches.6

The University was awarded the status of a ‘university of state importance’, which stimulated continuous improvement of innovative activities in the principal institution of higher education in Russia. Hereafter, we shall describe the first steps towards the implementation of the organization of an industrial university:

The Scientific Park of MSU7is one of the first technological parks in Russia and has been functioning since 1990. The activities of the Park are aimed at encouraging innovative activities in the university, and at improving the welfare of MSU’s academic staff, postgraduate students, and students, by means of the efficient and rational application of scientific, innovative, and human resources potential of the university.

Since 2004, the Scientific Park of MSU holds annual educational programs, aimed at the encouragement of students of various schools in the creation of innovative projects. The principal trends of the projects include: IT, bioengineering, pharmaceutics, and medicine. The programs’ finalists get an opportunity to take part in two-week educational training at MIT in the US, organized on the basis of Global Innovation Labs,8where the participants have an opportunity to present their projects to international experts.

In 2010, a Business incubator was established on the territory of MSU within the framework of the university’s program, aimed at the support of innovative entrepreneurship. In order to speed up companies’ entering the market, the Business incubator functions according to the principle of a business-accelerator. The incubator provides residents with initial investments, access to the infrastructure of the university, help in the design of a business model, and, most importantly, an opportunity to turn an idea into a working business in four months. The Science Park and the Business incubator started functioning not so long ago, however, they have already demonstrated their first results. Thus, the total turnover of resident companies of the Incubator for two years is over $3 million. The amount of investments attracted is over $3 million. Market evaluation of resident companies in the Business incubator of MSU is over $11.5 million which is a good sign for the success of the institutions in the future.9

Tomsk State University of Management Systems and Radio Electronics (TUSUR). Regional experience

At present, TUSUR is one of the leading regional higher education institutions, that was among the first to achieve results as regards the formation of entrepreneurial universities. The main task of the contemporary industrial university in Russia is to actively participate in the economic development of regions and the country. The strategic purpose of TUSUR as an industrial university is to create a high-performance cultural, educational, scientific and innovative environment that will provide efficient training of specialists for science intensive high-technology sectors of the economy, and will actively apply innovations, while being capable of entrepreneurial activities. All this in cooperation with the whole innovative zone, with the ability to reach world level in the declared priority trends in science, engineering and technology development, thus making a real contribution to the process of the creation of the Center of education, studies and design in the Tomsk area, and in particular, to the transition of the economy of Russia towards an innovative way of development. The program of the strategic development of TUSUR as an industrial university has been successfully implemented, which is an important stage in the formation of the regional innovative system.10

The main strategy at TUSUR is aimed at working with the institutions of development, arranging systematic work with each of them, prioritizing the activity and providing the university’s units with administrative and financial resources.

In addition, TUSUR takes an active part in international conferences (annual participation in the Triple Helix International Conference), cooperates with international associations (Triple Helix Association), and is a representative of the Triple Helix Association on the territory of the Russian Federation since 2012. In October 2012, TUSUR hosted a conference of the Association of entrepreneurial universities in Tomsk, devoted to the “Development of entrepreneurial universities as backbone elements of territorial innovative clusters ”

Difficulties in the formation of Entrepreneurial Universities

Due to the lack of experience in investments in risky projects, which innovations in Russia often are, venture funds are not yet fully developed. The regulations of many existing funds are risk averse and aimed at minimizing risk, such that the success of the projects is seen as a secondary factor. In recent years, the tendency is changing, mainly due to the private-governmental partnership that is becoming popular in Russia.

The drawbacks may include the a lack of communications between the participants of the investment process. As a result, there are resources for the support of innovative activities in the regions. Annually, they provide about $2.5 million from the regional budget. The amount of this financial support equals one single funding of the priority institutions.11

Some difficulties with development appear as a result of the lack of institutions of development in the innovative regions. It is necessary to build a network of regional entrepreneurial institutions, the cooperation of which will encourage the formation of entrepreneurial higher education institutions all over the country. The main reason is the non-uniform state of the development of different regions as regards their innovative infrastructure.

Thus, the presence of principles of interaction between network of universities will help to smooth the gaps, and decrease the concentration of resources in Moscow.

Cultural Aspect

Due to the historical developments of the Russian Federation, entrepreneurship appeared in the country some 20 years ago. Therefore, the cultural aspect plays an important in the formation of the industrial university.

Another point here is the attitude to risks that predominates business in Russia. Here, it is worth mentioning, that Russian people are inclined to risk, but still there is a dangerous border called “Russian roulette”.12 Russian people may risk a lot, that may lead to reckless or unreasonable actions. In course of the last 20 years, the situation has been changing for the better, largely thanks to the foreign education of some Russian academics and entrepreneurs and to the formation of a new business-culture in the country.

Hence in order to expand the cultural horizons and develop openmindedness in the students, (who create start-ups) the “Open University Skolkovo” program has been organised. This program sponsored by the Skolkovo Foundation is aimed at the recruitment, development and support of gifted young people with the purpose of improving the communities around the Skolkovo

Innovative Center. Classes take place in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Tomsk,13and the program is aimed at teaching students to identify difficulties in innovation and develop the tools for their solution.

Further, it is necessary to takecertain strategic steps for the formation of the entrepreneurial culture at the university. It is important that both professors and students understand the benefits offered through the commercialization of the intellectual property. It is necessary to change the lifestyle of professors, encouraging them to spare time for the participation in business projects in addition to participation in the educational process.

The Association of entrepreneurial universities has approved a program for the development of entrepreneurial universities up to 2020, the strategic trends of which are as follows:14

  • Formation of a Russian concept of the «entrepreneurial university». It is worth mentioning, that this notion is new for Russia, and it takes time to introduce the concept both in regional institutions, and in legislative and political terms.
  • Development of the legislative basis to provide the implementation of the model of the industrial university in Russia.
  • Promotion of the model of entrepreneurial universities in Russia and abroad, by means of the publication of best practices, experiences and solutions to problem in the international journal « Innovation of the Triple ­ Helix », published in Russian and founded by TUSUR and the Triple Helix Association.
  • Development of the culture of technological entrepreneurship among professors and students.
  • Holding an annual conference of the Association of entrepreneurial universities, with the purpose of the establishing the negotiation stand with ministries, innovative territorial clusters, state corporations, the development of types and criteria for the industrial university, the exchange of best experiences, and the analysis of the international experience.
  • Establishment of Funds for initial investments in entrepreneurial universities of Russia, with an active participation of federal, regional and private resources. Establishment of a foundation, funding innovative projects proposed by professors and students at pre-competitive and initial stages. This is related to the further growth of the innovative infrastructure of the universities, and of the competence in selection of projects, and their delivery «outside the university ».

The building of entrepreneurial universities is a topical task for the Russian Federation. The interest demonstrated by both higher education institutions and state authorities, as well as the instruments and funds provided for the establishment of entrepreneurial universities, gives a reason to assume that the given project will be successful for Russia in the long-term.

14Summary of the conference of the Association of entrepreneurial universities: 4-5 October , 2012 Administration of Tomsk area, Tomsk.



1Ivashchenko, N P and Engovatova, A A. (2012). Contemporary tools of the innovative policy of the State as concerns Russian higher education institutions. MIR (Modernization, Innovation, Growth) (4):46-54, 2012. [].

2Based on the material of the Center of statistics and scientific studies, 2012.

3Internet source:

4Kobzyeva, L V, Pudkova, V V and Uvarov, A F. (2012) Experience of the interaction between TUSUR and institutions of developmentof Russia. Innovative Russia, 11 (169).

5Results of the Conference of the Association of Entrepreneurial Universities, 4-5 October 2012, Tomsk, Russia.

6From the official site of MSU

7From the official site of the Scientific Park of MSU .

8From the official site of Global Innovation Labs

9From the official site of the Business incubator of MSU,

10Kobzyeva, ЛV , Pudkova, V V and Uvarov, A F. (2012) Experience of the interaction between TUSUR and institutions of development of Russia. Innovative Russia, №11 (169).

11Kobzyeva, ЛV , Pudkova, V V and Uvarov, A F. (2012) Experience of the interaction between TUSUR and institutions of development of Russia. Innovative Russia, №11 (169), 2012

12Russian roulette,

13From the official site of Skolkovo Open University,

14Summary of the conference of the Association of entrepreneurial universities: 4-5 October , 2012 Administration of Tomsk area, Tomsk.

Future steps towards the formation of Entrepreneurial Universities