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International Cooperation
EIT Health

Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) was honoured with an award at a Vertically Integrated Projects Consortium meeting held at the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA. This recognition commended RSU for its successful collaboration with European universities and its expertise in integrating research into the study process. RSU stood out as the sole European university to receive such a prestigious accolade at the Atlanta-based meeting. The Vertically Integrated Projects (VIPs) serve as an innovative platform that connects research with the study process. First developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology, this initiative has been embraced by numerous universities in the US and Europe.

RSU was awarded for its partnership in the EIT Health-funded project HIVE: Innovation in Higher Education Institutions for Knowledge-Intensive Entrepreneurship. The project's goal is to enhance the innovation and entrepreneurship capabilities of the partners by identifying both national and international best practices and fostering networking. The project aims to develop and implement a new course on entrepreneurship and innovation management and encourages the exchange of experiences with partner universities. RSU has already shared its successful implementation of VIP courses with project partners, including the University of Latvia, the Czech University of Life Sciences, and the Turkish TED University.

'Research is one of the strategic goals of RSU as a research university, and this major award shows that we are on the right track,' said RSU VIP expert, Director of the Institute of Occupational Safety and Environmental Health, Prof. Ivars Vanadziņš. 'The inclusion of VIP in the study process helps to integrate research and studies, nurturing a new generation of researchers who are familiar with the planning and implementation of research projects from an early stage of their studies.'



Prof. Ivars Vanadziņš (on the left) with the award, Edward Coyle, Director of VIP Programmes at Georgia Institute of Technology, and Liene Smane, lecturer at the Department of Paediatrics

Last year, the joint VIP project of RSU and Riga Technical University won the award for inter-university cooperation at the US VIP consortium meeting. The project focused on developing a prototype air quality robot. The VIP initiative was originally conceived by the Georgia Institute of Technology in the mid-1990s. Annually, US and European universities that have adopted this approach gather at the VIP Consortium. Their purpose is to share project implementation experiences, network, and seek new collaboration partners.

Vertically integrated projects were introduced at RSU in 2019 as an innovative addition to the learning process. These projects provide practical knowledge and research experience for students at all levels enabling students to acquire in-depth, hands-on research skills. Currently, RSU has six VIP teams focusing on various fields such as psychology, environmental health, ergonomics, and pediatrics. The teams are multidisciplinary and vertically integrated: first-year students from a health or social science platform, as well as medical residents and doctoral students can work in the same team for several semesters under the guidance of experienced researchers. VIPs contribute to the publication of scientific papers and student research projects, as well as the development of practical research-based tools. For instance, Prof. Kristīne Mārtinsone led a VIP team that developed the mental health self-help tool EMORI—a mobile application for assessing and improving emotion regulation skills. Lecturer Inese Paiča collaborated with the Art Academy of Latvia and Ventspils University College on this project.