The Growing Desire of Business to Cooperate with Institutions of Higher Education

In July 2014 the end of the call for applications under the European Union (EU) structural funds Inočekiai LT measure ended. Within two months, nearly 950 applications were received from small and medium businesses that wanted to get innovation vouchers and with them to purchase services from research and academic institutions. Applications requested EU funding amounting to more than 14.6 million LTL. Support for innovation vouchers is provided for applied research, technology development, and technical feasibility studies.
“This year, the interest in innovation vouchers is at a record high. Such support strives to help businesses establish cooperation with science and encourage businesses to make use of scientific solutions, i.e. the development of new, knowledge-based products, technologies and services. Science and business partnerships are important because the latest knowledge and research becomes available for businesses, and universities get the opportunity to test their ideas in practice,” said the Minister Evaldas Gustas. “We hope that the contacts established over a major cooperation projects will create new jobs, will have a positive impact on the country’s economic competitiveness for growth.”
The business community was able to choose from a variety of the 1,800 services proposed: from technology, product, and service development or improvement at the company, technical preparation for feasibility studies, product layouts, prototypes, recipes, and industrial design creation to the most complex technical solutions.
Business representatives from different regions of Lithuania applied for innovation vouchers, but companies from the three major cities still dominate: Vilnius, Kaunas, and Klaipėda. Regional city companies were more active in this call than in previous ones: Alytus, Utena, Šiauliai, Tauragė, and others.
Most businesses seek to book services from Kaunas University of Technology, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Vilnius University, the VMTI Center for Physical Sciences and Technology, and Aleksandras Stulginskis University. Under this call for the first time college provided scientific research and experimental development (R&D) services were included in the list: the largest business interest was in the services offered by Kaunas College.
The most popular services: VGTU Faculty of Mechanics renewable energy, mechatronics, and robotics research; KTU Faculty of Electronics network systems reliability and safety tests, and Faculty of Informatics automated testing tools for complex applications development and adaptation work; VDA Design Innovations Centre concept formulation and prototype development services.
With the help of external R&D experts, the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA) will evaluate the projects received. First time scientific and educational institution connection projects without R&D project execution experience (no R&D projects in the last 3 years), will be assessed first.
A financed project is to be implemented in no more than 6 months, and the project activities must be started the month of the signing of the contract with MITA. It is expected that all contracts for support will be concluded by September 1.
The maximum value of a project is 20,000 LTL. The funding intensity is up to 80% of the amount requested, and the rest, at least 20% of the project, companies must cover at their own expense.
The budget for this call is 7 million LTL for businesses.
Innovation vouchers that have been provided in Lithuania for five years have already benefited about 600 Lithuanian companies. Now 228 applications were received and 2.5 million LTL distributed to 174 companies.