As part of the emerging innovation ecosystem in Skolkovo, near Moscow, Open University Skolkovo (OpUS) aims to develop scientific and entrepreneurial competences, and foster creative ‘outside-the-box’ thinking among its students and partners.
The virtual university has five core teaching areas: energy, biomedicine, space, information technologies and nuclear technologies. These reflect the priorities of the Skolkovo Innovation Centre, a hi-tech science and business park based at the heart of the ecosystem, which will advance cutting edge research, innovation and technology transfer across Russia.
OpUS invited Imperial Consultants to host a series of opening lectures on applied technology and entrepreneurship, owing to the international reputation of Imperial academics and the College’s commitment to translational research. OpUS is working with Imperial Consultants and alongside other partners, including MIT and Microsoft, to deliver a programme of seminars, lectures and workshops for students who have demonstrated the attributes needed to turn knowledge into business ideas.
Alessandro Astolfi, Professor of Non-Linear Control Theory at Imperial College and one of the consultants involved in the project, said:
“Russian universities offer a strong base of theoretical knowledge, but Opus hopes to provide an industry perspective and modern applications. It aims to bridge the gap between research and the end technology.”
Professor Astolfi gave a series of lectures on the applications of robotics to students and local companies in the cities of Moscow and Tomsk. His lectures focused on the wide ranging functionality of different types of robots, the tools and technology needed to develop them and their applications.
Professor Astolfi illustrated state-of-the art applications in the areas of rehabilitation, monitoring, surveillance, exploration, medicine and energy harvesting. For example, stroke patients who need to re-build muscle strength in their arms and hands could use a robotic ‘manipulator’ to perform systematic exercises adapted to their disability. This idea of manipulation, where the robot recognises a disturbance from the environment and acts to attenuate it, can be used to enhance other applications such as artificial limbs, construction machinery and computer games consoles. Robotic systems can also talk to each other. The ‘red arrow’ jets, for example, use ‘cooperative’ systems to ensure they are perfectly aligned in the air. This type of system could also be used in cars to control traffic flow.
By exposing students to cutting edge technologies and the problems that they could be used to solve, OpUS aims to inspire students with entrepreneurial flair to go on and become Russia’s innovators of the future. Professor Asolfi also sees the benefits from an Imperial perspective:
“Exchange of ideas is the most important aspect of our job. Working with OpUS begins to open up the ideas market between Imperial and Russia.”
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