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Checklist for Those Who’d Like to Govern Science

Following the Open Doors Day of the ISSEK Master’s Programme ‘Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation’ we’ve summarised the most important aspects of the feedback received from managers, teachers, and partners. This can serve as a kind of checklist for those who are considering a career in science, and are willing to lead advanced research and development activities.

Video of the Open Doors Day

Training will be combined with research

HSE has the status of a research university, and this programme was designed on the basis of its largest research division, the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK). Many HSE students, and the programme participants in particular, contribute to ISSEK projects as paid interns. Those willing to immerse in research more closely can have at least one academic paper attached to the diploma by the end of the training (according to the statistics, 80% of ISSEK publications appear in upper quartiles journals). The programme provides opportunities to present research results at international fora, while the ISSEK itself organises academic conferences on foresight and science, technology, and innovation policy twice a year (in April and November).

Leonid Gokhberg, HSE First Vice-Rector and ISSEK Director: ‘We encourage our students to take part in research projects. About 60 students participate in them annually, for a fee. Students interested in a research career remain working at HSE, or continue their personal development through postgraduate studies. There are internship and on-the-job training options at large companies, government departments, and international organisations’.

Dirk Meissner, Academic Supervisor of the Master’s program: ‘You will not just study theory, but also learn how to apply it in practice. Everything you learn at the lectures will be applicable in project work, or in specific cases. At the same time you will have to write academic papers. The difference between a university and a business school is exactly in that the competencies university students get are believed to allow to independently research a topic, and formulate a research question. It’s actually quite a challenge. In a business school students are given a problem to analyse, while here you find it yourself, and explain what its essence is. This is much more complicated’.

Are there any specific disciplines to focus on to increase the chances to be admitted to the programme?

Present-day research doesn’t fit into the linear framework of the ‘old’ academic classifications, so this programme was originally conceived as an integrated, interdisciplinary one. Among the successful applicants are medical university graduates, mathematicians, even composers. Training in a mixed team provides an important experience of interacting in an innovative environment.

Dirk Meissner: ‘This is evident in how, and which students we accept in the programme: we don’t focus on a particular education or diploma, but assemble different educational tracks in a group. It’s much more interesting to work on projects or do research in a multidisciplinary team. In the future you will certainly come across different backgrounds and mentality types. So it’s better to work out possible mistakes during training than while building a professional career’.

Which theoretical and practical background the programme provides?

The programme’s educational profile includes three major areas:

Quantitative measurements in the field of science, technology and innovation. You cannot manage this area, i. e. influence it, assess the effects of these influences, and monitor the developments without statistics. The ability to use indicators is absolutely essential for working in government agencies, development institutions, research or commercial organisations.

Analysis of science, technology, and innovation policy. The R&D sector is a complex multilevel system with different-scale components (such as countries, regions, corporations, medium and small organisations; individuals can also be among the innovation actors), which interact in different ways and group into clusters, networks, etc. To work at all these levels, we need specific tools and techniques to assess the managerial impact.

Long-term foresight, and strategic planning. Foresight tools allow to identify promising development areas for economic sectors, regions, and companies. Without forecasts no corporate or state strategies can be formulated; it wouldn’t be possible to understand the innovation agenda and successfully fit demand in the labour market.

Leonid Gokhberg: ‘The programme is designed in such a way that a student can choose variable sets of courses for themselves, in line with their interests and future career in the public or corporate sector. But it’s important that people working in the public sector understand how the corporate business is structured, while corporate people must understand how relevant government policies are shaped’.

Dirk Meissner: ‘What is innovation? How do you turn an idea into a cost-effective, profitable solution? Sounds simple, but only 1-2% of ideas reach successful implementation stage. To bring an idea to the market you need systemic thinking, a structured, creative approach. This is what we call ‚foresight‚ and long-term strategic planning. Only with a long-term plan can companies prosper sustainably. And since they exist and do business in a particular environment, including financial and legal conditions which emerge due to various science, technology and innovation policy factors, it‚s also important to understand the general context and infrastructure. A very interesting topic is tools and measurement indicators in the field of science, technology and innovation. This sphere can be assessed from different perspectives, e. g. at the national level, benchmarking countries‚ innovation development levels (Switzerland is now the undisputed leader), or company level (quite different indicators are needed to evaluate specific ideas or innovative projects‚ effectiveness). In the scope of the programme we‚ll analyse innovation strategies, methods for managing innovation projects, competitive analysis techniques, and study innovation from the economic, measuring, and foresight points of view.

As to optional courses, students can choose innovation funding, corporate entrepreneurship, regional science, technology, and innovation policy. By the second year students will have developed personal educational paths: only research and design workshops remain among the required courses.

P. S. If they wish, students can present their own ideas at these workshops, work out a business plan on the basis of these ideas, and defend it before the commission. We support all student initiatives regarding practical training; the internship can be completed at the place of work or in any innovative company‘.

International connections, prospects, recognition?

The programme is delivered entirely in English. More than a quarter of classes are taught by foreign teachers. Thanks to the wide network of partners the ISSEK has around the world, students who are keen on research can go abroad for an internship, or take part in the double diploma programmes.

Dirk Meissner: ‘11 foreign teachers are involved in the programme, which makes an excellent ratio with local professors. We strive to send as many students as possible abroad: the experience of living in another country reveals the level of personal and social maturity like nothing else. And of course this experience will look good on your resume, and help with your future career.

‚We offer double diploma programmes: upon graduation the student can receive not only a HSE diploma but also a partner university‘s, among which are the Technical University of Berlin, Seoul National University (SNU), Polytechnic University of Turin, and University of Maastricht. In some cases along with the second diploma you also get another qualification: e. g. you can become a Master of Engineering by completing the double diploma programme with the Seoul National University. If not for the whole year, it will certainly be worth it studying at a foreign university for a semester: we also have joint short-term programmes with the Middle East Technical University, University of Bremen, and SNU. Three more new agreements are coming, with the universities of Tokyo, Utrecht, and Beijing. I urge you to carefully study the wide range of exchange opportunities, and take full advantage of the programme.

‚Now it‚s being accredited by the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) which is recognised as the best European quality certificate for management education programmes‘.