On 2 February 2017, the University of Latvia (UL) signed an agreement with consulting company “Dynamic University” Ltd. for performing a study on University-Business Collaboration (UBC) opportunities at the UL and how these can be supported by the new Tornakalns campus infrastructure.
The study will be performed through questionnaires and interviews, workshops and focus groups of various stakeholders inside and outside of the UL. It will include also a revised analysis of any previously performed studies, a compilation of case studies detailing current UBC practices, problems and potential at the UL, and how these issues can be addressed at the new campus.
The study will also tap into the UBC experience of other “Live Baltic Campus” partners, resulting in a set of recommendations for successful, sustainable and multilateral cooperation between the academia and its social and industrial partners — the residents of the surrounding neighbourhood, university students and personnel, commercial organizations, as well as municipality and state institutions, various NGOs and trade associations.
Based on slightly different problems previously identified in the two branches of studies offered by the UL, the UBC study separates its analysis of STEM fields, and the social sciences and humanities. However, both modules of the study will investigate the synergy and innovation capacity that might emerge through closer collaboration between these branches. This potential is especially interesting, considering that a recent study of the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science estimates that the social sciences and humanities contribute at least 50% to any, even the most technical, innovation. As such, the effect and importance of these fields is often underestimated.
To investigate further the potential of this collaboration, the third part of the study will be looking specifically at the support functions of the campus. Are there any specific design solutions that foster innovation, participation and synergy? How can we use our campus space to support these aims? What about the library being available 24/7? How do we keep the campus alive after the end of the lectures: would students appreciate a gym? A concert hall? A bike rental? Do we make these facilities available to students from other universities? Do we make them available to the local residents? Is anything else missing in this picture?
The study will be carried out in close collaboration with the UL Communications and Innovation Department, the team of the Tornakalns Development Project, as well as Riga Planning Region and in line with the overall concept of Riga’s Knowledge Mile forming on the left bank of River Daugava.
The interim report, detailing the results of the questionnaires and interviews will be available already in the beginning of May. During the summer, work will continue on case study analysis, as well as discussions and workshops involving the stakeholders. The final report and the findings of the study will be included in Riga’s Integrated Campus Development Plan and presented at the Livable City Forum in Riga.
This is going to be an exciting time for us, and we hope the findings of the study will be interesting and useful for other project partners as well!