Latvia has become increasingly dependent on global processes. Not only financial crisis, but also labour force migration in Europe testifies to it. Obviously, we cannot focus on a narrow local context, we have to think and act on a much larger scale by analysing and introducing models that are approbated in Europe. Besides, researchers of World Economic Forum have currently published a research report on European competitiveness for the next six years „The Europe 2020 Competitiveness Report”. They pointed out that Europe faces a challenge of transforming the EU into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy that would deliver high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. This goal cannot be achieved without innovative solutions for problems topical within the society and commercialisation of scientific discoveries that is ensured and administered by universities and their research institutions upon cooperation between the university and representatives of particular industries.
Collaboration is grounded on particular needs of involved parties that are to be jointly solved by partners. We have already come to a conclusion that strategic specialisation is a key to success for the universities, thus, the answer to the question regarding the choice of strategic partner is obvious.
I will put forward an example on the situation in medical education. Upon defining strategic specialisation in the fields of medicine and health care, Rīga Stradiņš University has a clearly defined perspective regarding long-term partners in clinical treatment, pharmacy, dentistry and other fields – companies specialising in the above mentioned fields and clinics as a place for young professionals to acquire practical skills and later on develop professional career, whereas university offers knowledge and inventions that contribute to the development of industry.
On the other side, clinics and companies are dependent on highly qualified human resources for the fulfilment of their primary functions. For example, primary function of Pauls Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital is patient treatment and care that is provided by hospital’s staff. Alongside with the above mentioned, the hospital is interested in the competences and motivation of the staff to carry out pedagogic and scientific work so that the university would be a place for the development of young professionals and new knowledge in the field of medicine. Thus, university and hospital cannot develop separately and ensure the growth of the value added of the services.
Duration of medical studies, excluding residency, is from nine till twelve years. Thus, collaboration between partners should last for at least the same period and no changes with regard to the duration of collaboration should be made. With an aim to develop strategic partnership on a global level, it should be established regardless of the personalities employed in leading positions or political situation within the country.
Investments in capacity building of both partners are another significant aspect. Both government and local funds might be attracted for this purpose. Absorption of the EU funds for the development of universities and industries should be carefully planned at national level. On the other hand, also entrepreneurs should be socially responsible and invest into staff training and qualification-raising. When necessary, consultative boards for closer cooperation among study programmes, research institutions and the industry should be established.
Likewise the field of medicine, similar examples can also be singled out in other fields related to the interconnection between the university and industry in need of the application of knowledge acquired in the university. Whereas, industries should be ready to integrate own knowledge and skills into the university for the sake of own development that would build synergy with Europe’s economy. Its demand and impact on Latvia is already felt.
Written by Dins Šmits,
Chair of the Convent of Councillors of Rīga Stradiņš University,
Chair of the Board of Pauls Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital