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ISSEK Students in the Search of the Responds to the Administration Requests

Master’s Programme Students of HSE ISSEK “Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation” for 10 weeks from January to March were doing their internships at Moscow Agency of Innovations. During the internship four students found several best technological solutions for optimizing the city transport, power grids, healthcare and other systems.

An internship at the Moscow Agency of Innovations is open to all motivated 3-4 year students, master’s degree students and PhD candidates of Russian universities. Along with Vyshka students, there were intern students from the “Moscow City Government Internship” programme (coming from other universities), and they were selected carefully through lots of interviews and challenges. The Master’s Programme Students were the favored interns in the frames of cooperation of the ISSEK Programme with the Agency of Innovations.

In which projects did you participate during the internship?

Sasha: Basically, all of us participated in the “Open Challenges” government programme which provides sort of a link between the government and the market. Moscow has its own needs, or “challenges”, that are announced to the market (not in the tender procedure type, though), and our function was to inform companies of this opportunity and to collect as many applications as possible. When applications are collected, the expert jury chooses the best solution. The winner then provides a pilot test of their solution in the real city conditions, and if it turns out good, Moscow purchases it in a large scale. Thus, both Moscow and the company, gain from the cooperation! I had two main needs, or “challenges”, related to transport and ecology, and I had to reach out to foreign and Russian companies by phone and e-mail. Also, I drew up quite a lot of formal letters of request, I had to choose candidates for the expert jury and not only.

Altynai: I was also engaged in “Open Challenges” programme, but worked for different challenges within this Programme. My task was to find innovative solutions for real-time doctor-patient interaction. Here you can find videoconference software, applications and devices as well as sophisticated wireless devices which monitor particular vital signs, transfer them automatically every hour to your cloud and directly to your doctor in form of email or to your electronic health records (EHR) and make an alert for your doctor or hospital in case your health condition is considered to be critical. To find as many appropriate solutions from all around the globe as possible, every intern used own techniques for this. I looked through a number of related market researches to identify the key players for each niche and region. Even English is the 1st language of the Internet, make a research in other languages is a good idea and you could find an unique solution for instance in the Poland or in India if you speak Polish as Emilie or Hindi as Nawaid.

Nawaid:Moscow Agency of Innovations was founded by the Department of Science, Industrial Policy and Entrepreneurship under Government of Moscow under to serve as a one-stop shop for participants of Moscow's innovation ecosystem. We worked in “Open Challenge” programme which aims to select and to test innovative products and technologies offered by Russian and foreign companies to solve urgent problems of the city.  I was engaged in two different projects during my internship:

1. Innovations in Simulation for Pharmacy Education

2. Durable Coatings for Overhead Power Lines to Reduce Corona Losses  

Where my task was to identify of simulation solution companies in pharmacy education and invite them to participate in our “Open Challenge” programme. Moreover, my task was to find foreign companies.

Emilie: My challenge was “Innovative solutions to provide safety and remote monitoring of drip infusions”. I had no knowledge in this medical field and had to look for precise solutions. It was quite challenging at the beginning but in few days, I understood my task better and it started being more interesting. While looking for companies from all over the world, I could speak several languages and really enjoyed it. We had to convince as many companies as possible to apply for our challenge, it helped me to improve my communication skills.

How to complete the internship successfully?

Altynai: To manage your time properly for searching new solutions, making calls and writing letters to the already found contacts is of great importance. No less crucial are those factors as a pause between the first and the second calls, word choice, speed, addressing the person by name or surname.

Nawaid: Due to previous working experience in the area of customer services and support, contacting with foreign companies is not hard to do. We were also provided a database of several companies’ profiles which was very useful for performing our tasks. Moreover, the second project (Durable Coatings for Overhead Power Lines to Reduce Corona Losses) I worked in was purely technical and because of my technical expertise and the electrical field, I was easily able to work on this project and I was also appreciated by our supervisor and colleagues because of my experience in the field.

Emilie: I think communication skills are a key success factor: by communication I mean being nice on the phone and make your speech as clear as possible but also not being afraid of getting in touch with companies again and again. This was a bit difficult for me at the beginning but in a while I got used to it. We should also be very patient because companies take their time to answer or wait you to get in touch with them to give you an answer.

Sasha: The key success factor is developing an oral pitch presentation (preferably -- not more than 30 seconds long). Concisely explain what you offer and how much it will cost them in terms of money and time. In simple words: tell them what they want to hear right away. All the rest will add up!

What makes Moscow Agency of Innovations unique?

Altynai: the Agency is modern and based in a bright open-space office building well-planned for the comfortable work. 

Nawaid: Working as a foreigner with the Moscow city government is the best experience of my life. All the staff of my department were friendly and enthusiastic. I was the only one in our group who could not speak Russian but all my colleagues and our supervisors never made me feel strange among them. We had quite a flexible working schedule and we had a very cozy and properly maintained work place. Thanks to the Moscow Agency of Innovation and my team for giving me the best professional experience.

Emilie: The Agency is very modern. There are large bright open space offices with nice people working around. Our supervisors and colleagues did not make us feel as interns but common colleagues, that was is very pleasant of them. I also enjoyed the time flexibility, which enabled us to work on other projects at the same time.

Sasha: Very modern people around, nice interior, a lot of young colleagues; the tasks are clear so that you are enthusiastic about it. All our colleagues were extremely open and helpful. We even had a presentation made specially for us, interns, about some previous event.. I find it superb: we really felt we were cared about.

What innovation solutions are essential for HSE?

Altynai: HSE is one of the most modern universities in Russia regarding classrooms facility, but there is a space for improving our libraries. For instance, with the help of barcode scanner devices and special software it is possible to replace paper registration of borrowed books directly to one of our student cards (we have 3 student documents: student card, pass and library card) and to e-database. When you need to return books this modernization allows you to just leave books in the box and later while scanning the librarian identifies the name of the student who has brought the books. This lets students be free from the working hours. It could be a good option for our libraries to equip some workplaces with laptops, because there are sometimes classes in the computer classrooms and this cab maybe a great challenge to bring a heavy laptop from far situated places and dorms.

Emilie: I agree with Altynai, something should be done to modernize the library!

Nawaid: Technologies in the educational institutions are a common trend this decade. HSE is the most highly internationalized and standardized university in Russia. There is no urgent need of restructuring the university structure. Although, I attended several guest lectures organized by HSE and delivered by honorable professors around the world. It is my suggestion to introduce the virtual reality technology (VR) and to broadcast guest lectures at the HSE University. This will let more professors share their knowledge and experience in less time.

The article prepared by:

Altynai Raiyumkulova

Syed Ali Nawaid Alam

Bertram Emilie

Pryakhina Alexandra