The Focus Asia workshop on Thursday afternoon gathered together almost 40 participants. The afternoon session featured interesting speakers and their case examples of research cooperation between universities and industry and other stakeholders in several regions in Asia including India, Southeast Asia, China and Japan. The objectives of workshop were to Provide a space to discuss the opportunities and challenges related to cooperation between universities, businesses and other stakeholders in joint projects focused on Asia, and to discover untapped opportunities for cooperation and to identify and highlight current successful practices for cooperation.The Focus Asia workshop on Thursday afternoon gathered together almost 40 participants. The afternoon session featured interesting speakers and their case examples of research cooperation between universities and industry and other stakeholders in several regions in Asia including India, Southeast Asia, China and Japan. The objectives of workshop were to provide a space to discuss the opportunities and challenges related to cooperation between universities, businesses and other stakeholders in joint projects focused on Asia, and to discover untapped opportunities for cooperation and to identify and highlight current successful practices for cooperation.
After the welcome words from FinCEAL Plus Asia coordinator Dr. Jarkko Mutanen, Dr. Kentaro Watanabe from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan and VTT, Finland gave an interesting talk about meaningful technology for elderly care. The objectives of this research project included developing an integrative approach to develop, implement and evaluate meaningful technologies for elderly-care, through taking a service system approach, active participation of the stakeholders and using comparative studies. The lessons learned from collaboration were that collaboration between Japan and Finland indcludes different approaches (practice-oriented vs. innovation and management perspective) but similar concerns (elderly care in a human-centered, socio-technical view). A shared vision is important for a common research question, leading into fruitful collaboration. Overcoming barriers may take some years in the process of adapting regional differences.
The next case example was presented by Dr. Joni Kujansuu from the University of Helsinki and he discussed about air quality and climate change in a pan Eurasian experiment and related research/industrial collaborations mainly with Chinese partners. Dr. Kujansuu stated that to get a succesful research collaborations it is important to have access to the key academics in China and also to get good funding opportunities with Chinese partners and infrastructure investment push both from Finland and China.
Last speaker of the session before the coffee break was Dr. Hannu Mölsä from FIC Consulting who talked about promoting commercial cold-water aquaculture in Vietnam focused on fish industry clients who want to commercialize abroad. Their key steps in research-industry collaborations were facilitating business partnerships and providing consultancy services for SME companies. Finding the key partners also requires an evaluation of their active contacts. Feasibility studies are essential for project development (establishing pilot rainbow trout farms in Vietnam, as an example). Additionally, rainbow trout is a luxury product with high prices in Vietnam, which helped to stabilize the project costs. This project became a gateway for also other Finnish collaboration, as the STI applications have widened to other aqua-sectors.
The next speaker, Professor Mikko Ruohonen from the University of Tampere discussed about partnering in sustainable development for technology and services in rural India which is useful for precision agriculture, supply-chain efficiencies, and agriculture-focused payment systems. He also stated that big data enables revolutionizing the global food chain, and making sustainable business through digital means. Also ICT creates impact and localization in development projects. The projects objectives included increasing information accessibility for low literacy users and using a gesture-based technlogy. Strategies and key-lessons learned discussed during the presentation were: Moving from technology and business way of thinking towards a social and economic scope (impact), a change from a consumer to producer view (empowering via tools and platforms), fostering connections in India and also support from funding organizations from both sides in Indo-Finnish collaboration, and finally importance of local NGOs in Indo-Finnish academia-enterprise collaborations.
The last speaker of the session Dr. Mika Luimula from the Turku University of Applied Sciences gave a presentation about gamified solutions in healthcare and exercise gaming ("exergaming") experiences in Finland and Asia. The objective of this research is to offer more options for the elderly's self care including offering new services (including socialization) to elderly through gamification and thus partially ease the workload of the health care professionals. The research collaboration includes partners from Southeast Asia and Japan and the idea is to create a business ecosystem with Asian partners through gamified solution.
The speeches were followed by a mini panel discussion where four speakers discussed about the opportunities and challenges related to cooperation between universities, businesses and other stakeholders in joint projects focused on Asia.
- Mobile devices and ICT integration are essential in these and many projects, but how to make them meaningful requires multilateral partnerships outside the common ICT scope;
- Joint funding allows for flexibility and co-ownership of the project and fostering innovation;
- Solid funding from home universities, on top of the partnership co-funding, creates a surplus and plays a major role in concretizing multilateral partnership efforts
- You need proximity with the key stakeholders. Political reach is essential in many cases, whether through your stakeholders (academic reach) or just a small, focused meeting in a shared ride with a vice-chancellor. Remember that strong industry policies are driving forces for collaboration.
- Sometimes project succeed when the right stakeholders are engaged, and kept close. Other times, it requires a little bit of elbowing and positioning of expertise (case example: Finnish cold water aquaculture vs Nordic expertise).
- Projects could find themselves being engulfed in a larger project’s funding umbrella but that opportunity itself requires trying and applying, as nothing would happen otherwise.
- Projects from international partnerships become the gateway for Finnish collaboration, as the STI applications widen to other sectors.
Challenges and opportunities
- Fund-cuts give opportunities for joint projects, as single entities cannot handle the funding and management themselves