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Training on R&D strategy delivered in Georgia by Université Nice Sophia Antipolis / Université Côte d'Azur

The training was delivered in the framework of the Erasmus+ programme, by UNS/Université Côte d'Azur staff involved in research management at steering level and at support level. It took place in Batumi, Georgia, on June 26-28, 2019.


Publication : 03/07/2019
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The HERD project

HERD project - Raising Research Capacity of Georgian HEIs through Developing R&D Units - funded by the Erasmus Plus programme, aims to support several Georgian higher education institutions in strengthening their research capacity. For this, three European institutions (Université Clermont Auvergne, Université Nice Sophia Antipolis/Université Côte d’Azur and Technical University of Dresden) were mandated to pilot three areas considered to be a priority. In the framework of one of the project’s main activities, provision of training in Georgia, each European institution is in charge of one of these aspects:

  • Research and development strategy (Université Nice Sophia Antipolis - UNS / Université Côte d’Azur)
  • Technology transfer and intellectual property (University Clermont Auvergne)
  • European project development (Technical University of Dresden).

The training on the R&D strategy delivered by UNS/Université Côte d'Azur

The training was delivered by UNS/Université Côte d'Azur staff involved in research management at steering level (Diana SEBBAR, Research Executive Director - Université Côte d'Azur) as well as at support level (Saranne COMEL and Alexandra CORNEA, European research project engineers at the Europe Research Office). It was attended by decision-makers, professors, researchers and administrative staff involved in research management in different Georgian institutions*. It took place in Batumi, Georgia (beautiful place!), at the Batumi State University from 26th to 28th of June, 2019.

The training relied on a participatory approach and built on six steps:

  • Definition of a research and development strategy. This section developed the purpose and the structure of a research strategy. The aim of a successful research strategy is to remove research hurdles, align research with national needs and build research for the future
  • Université Côte d’Azur case study. It detailed the model Université Côte d'Azur, which aims to be a new model for French universities based on new interactions between disciplines, on excellence and on a new form of coordination between research, teaching, and innovation. Part of its strategy is also creating strong partnerships with the private sector and local authorities
  • Building an R&D strategy: impulse an embedded and participatory approach to mobilise assets in addressing socio-economic and political challenges. It explained the steps to undertake in building a research strategy: create a global dynamic towards a common purpose, conduct a state of the art of existing strategies at regional, national and European level, map the private-public partnership opportunities, conduct an opportunity assessment to adopt reseach and organizational priorities and finally stand united in order to make one’s voice heard
  • Definition of an Action Plan to proceed to the operational implementation of your strategy. This section provided hints about the design of an action plan, relying on SMART objectives and concrete actions
  • Key elements to ensure the success in the implementation and follow-up of your research and development strategy. The aspects developed were: the definition of an overall governance and support system, the outline of main processes and policies, the importance of strategic partnerships and of securing the funds and the design of a quality plan and of assessment mechanisms relying on quantitative and qualitative indicators
  • Work Groups: Opportunity assessment and priority. Each section described above featured practical examples and included workshops so that the methodology may be applied to the Georgian reality: Identify the different typologies of your research staff and understand their needs and challenges; Identify European, Georgian and regional priorities that can be addressed through research activities; Identify the companies at a national and regional level that could benefit from your research units expertise; SWOT analysis of your organization and opportunity assessment.

 Training conclusions

 The training provided a strategy based on a methodology exemplified with good practices adopted at UNS/Université Côte d'Azur. An analysis of the methods and approaches to be adopted by and adapted to the Georgian research system started during the workshops but it needs to be deepen throughout the project, nourished by the other exchanges, activities and trainings that are planned. Georgian political, socio-economic, industrial, educational specificities and priorities need to be addressed in this process and a unique new strategy will emerge, Georgia’s own strategy for research and development. That means that the project will fulfill its objective.

Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats emerged from the SWOT analysis of Georgian higher education research system and institutions and many were common to all the higher education structures involved in the project.

Among the strengths there is the motivation to improve (that we also witnessed during the training days), their strong disciplinary tradition and strong specialization in different fields like physics and mathematics, the good experience in cooperation programmes. Main weaknesses are lack of funding, weak links with the industry, lack of career development plans, lack of training for research and administrative staff. Among the threats they face some are unfortunately common to many East-European countries that is brain drain and aging workforce. Opportunities are many: create transdisciplinary research and programmes at the national level, implement joint actions (joint programmes, joint conferences for communication and dissemination purposes, collective stand in order to bring recommendations to the highest level and make one’s voice heard), apply more to funded grants available, the perspective of EU-integration. The common battle is to turn threats into opportunities and weaknesses into strengths. HERD project and the ERASMUS Plus programme is contributing to winning this common battle.

Final considerations

There is a Georgian term, Genatsvale, which cannot be literally translated into French. On one had it resembles a research strategy, it cannot be, literally transcribed or transferred into another context or system. But it can be adapted and transposed to a different reality by taking into consideration its specificities.

Genatsvale is an expression of tenderness and care and pure intentions, meaning “let me be in your place in case of difficulty” or “I wish I could bare the pain for you”, as a sign of high appreciation for someone close. A training is a time of sharing, sharing difficulties and problems as well and an opportunity to put oneself in somebody else’s place. And we appreciate Georgians very much and we did understand their difficulties. But we also saw their strengths and we appreciated their motivation and strong will to overcome the obstacles and to change what is in their power to change so that their universities be able to leverage on the potential of their resources. And their resources are rich as based on tradition, motivation, collective intelligence, quality skills and many more strengths that they can successfully mobilise and build on.

 Next short-term steps:

  • Devlopment of the project communication and dissemination strategy and launch of the project website, this summer
  • Welcoming of Georgian delegations to Nice at Université Côte d'Azur, October 2019: it is a follow-up of the training in Georgia and it is meant to better apprehend our research strategy
  • Workshop on European project development, delivered by the Technical University of Dresden, March 2020

 * Georgian universities part of the HERD project: Ilia State University (ISU), Georgian Technical University (GTU), Tbilisi State Medical University (TSMU), Akaki Tsereteli State University (ATSU), Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University (BSU), Iakob Gogebashvili Telavi State University (TESAU), V.Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire (TSC), Caucasus University (CU), David Tvildiani Medical University (DTMU), International Black Sea University (IBSU), Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA), Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia (MES), LEPL Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation of Georgia (SRNSFG), National Center for Education Quality Enhancement (NCEQE), Georgian Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA), Saqpatenti, National Intellectual Property Center of Georgia. 

 

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