Cooperation between science and business through four years

  • 18. November 2020
  • Articel,
  • Cooperation projects,
  • News,
  • Success story
Cooperation between science and business through four years
  • 18. November 2020
  • Articel,
  • Cooperation projects,
  • News,
  • Success story
Foto: adapter.ee

In October, Adapter celebrated its fourth year of operation. During these years, 15 research institutions have joined the cooperation network of Estonian universities and research and development institutions, and the network brings together more than 3,500 research experts. Almost 1000 queries have been made through Adapter.ee.

In addition, the network Adapter organizes annual cooperation festivals. The theme of this year’s cooperation festival taking place on the 19th of November is  “Healthy Cities”.

However, the questions that entrepreneurs, individuals and public authorities have approached universities and research institutions have very wide range. There has been a need for help in finding laboratories to perform certain experiments or tests, as well as in matters of recycling, the food industry, designs, etc.

From drone modules to Estonian language lessons

The ever-improving products and services of companies require more and more extensive knowledge, and it is helpful to describe a question or problem in the adapter.ee environment, which is forwarded to the research institutions and research experts that have joined the cooperation network. It is not possible to list all the examples of the work done and the questions asked, but a small cross-section can be made of the various points of cooperation.

In cooperation with the 3rd year students of the Product Design Department of the Estonian Academy of Arts, the development of designs for drone modules compatible with Cleveron parcel machines was started, which would enable to offer parcel transport without human intervention. At that time, no one could have foreseen the arrival of COVID. In contrast, green thinking has been growing  in people for decades. The idea that gelatin could be used to make leather-like textiles was based on previous research conducted in the University of Tartu. Thus, more than 150 brands and designers around the world, including Estonia, have been interested in Gelatex leather-like material, and the number of people interested is constantly growing.

Many opportunities for cooperation have been sought in the development of the cosmetics industry. For example, folk wisdom on anti-wrinkle and anti-aging cream came true in cooperation between OÜ Xarus Cosmetics and Tallinn University. The production and consumption of natural cosmetics is a growing trend. Knowing the properties of beaver castoreum in folklore, the entrepreneur thought of bringing a scientific aspect to the development. In product development, the company involved the competence of chemists in developing the recipe of new products, testing the properties of a new product and testing in general.

Our own Baltic Seaweed is also gaining ground in the cosmetics industry. The project “Development of a technological solution for the separation of phycoerythrin from red algae in the Baltic Sea”, which ended last year, was the first large-scale study of the Plantvalor competence center established at the Polli Horticultural Research Center of the Estonian University of Life Sciences. The aim of the project was to find an efficient technology that could be used to produce red pigment on an industrial scale.

Many companies have started out of a personal need for a specific product that is not currently available on the market or that does not meet the demand in the market. The company Kidsmed OÜ was started precisely due to the lack of a product due to personal needs. Having the desire to create a product that would make the lives of parents easier, the company decided to involve the excellent universities of Estonia and their potential. The Estonian Academy of Arts gave a helping hand to product development, and as a result an inhaler based on network tehcnology was completed as a bachelor’s thesis by Carol Kottisse and Kätlin Kallas.

Foreign client or a country as a cooperation partner

However, if we look at the life of the elderly from the point of view of furniture, then it can be stated that the supply of furniture intended for private consumers and with parameters and additional functions suitable for the elderly in the retail trade is poor. Võrumaa Vocational Education Centre’s Wood Processing and Furniture Production Competence Center TSENTER has maintained close contact with the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Koeru Care Center under its administration since the first steps of the bed for the elderly  product development project.

There is not a lack of new ideas in the world, but there is a shortage of those who can put connect an idea with free money or make a prototype. It should be noted here that product development is one of the main activities of the TSENTER competence center of Võrumaa Vocational Education Center. Many ideas that started as an idea on a piece of paper have become a real product through drawing work and making a prototype. In addition to domestic companies, there is also experience in product development for foreign clients. For example, a request from the Swedish designer Matilda Hunyad came to the Tsenter center for development of a bent plywood lamp.

It is clear that Estonian companies and specialists are no longer beginners in the world market, and there is an increasing need for engineers who are inspired by innovations in the industrial landscape, know technology, think interdisciplinary and solve problems and are internationally competitive. With this in mind, you can study robotics at Tallinn University of Technology, which is a new level in engineering, production and technology studies.

The engineering profession is popular in both China and Estonia, and all industrial companies need worthy specialists. Regardless of size, companies know very well the importance of equipment maintenance or the damage that can be caused by saving on maintenance work. Elektrimasinad OÜ, together with students and researchers from Tallinn University, developed an Internet-based maintenance program H.E.S., which is intended for companies’ electronic equipment and infrastructure.

Company directly from the university

We also hear quite often about smart ideas and even smarter companies in the Estonian economic landscape. Many of these companies are set up by university staff or students and are located at a research and development institution or university. Decomer Technology started at the University of Tartu, but is now represented in Silicon Valley due to the participation of IndieBio, the world’s largest business accelerator in natural sciences, and the involvement of investments. The company’s popular product is a water-soluble portion of honey or honeydrops, which makes the consumption of honey in drinks convenient. As the packaging material of the product is completely edible, you need to take a water-soluble product, add it to the drink and so you can comfortably enjoy tea or coffee.

Generous science and generous kindness were also packed in Helen’s fluffy porridge packs with the help of scientists. The head of the company contacted the University of Tartu, Tallinn University of Technology and the University of Life Sciences, but the final solution was packed with the help of BioCC OÜ and a number of researchers. Pille Pokk, who is the chairman of the board of Sangaste Linnase AS and the marketing and sales director of Grüne Fee Eesti AS, can based on her experience, talk about how difficult it was to cooperate with research institutions and researchers over all.

Can science also be environmentally friendly

The most topical issue of this century is definitely environmentally friendly recycling and packaging in general. Green thinking is a growing trend. Thus, Kaubamaja AS began to look for the best solution for the use of plastic waste, and in cooperation with the Estonian network of research and development institutions Adapter, the competition “A Forward-thinking Lifestyle” was announced. The design competition was won by the Estonian Academy of Arts’ “Circular System”, authored by Maarja Mõtus and Vitali Valtanen.

However, in co-operation between the EAA Sustainable Design Laboratory, Tallinn University and the Estonian Defense Industry Association (EKTL), an annual project was carried out to map the amount of production waste in the Estonian defense industry and its treatment methods and to test sustainable design methods. During recycling, solutions were sought out to move from production residues to the circular economy and to introduce quality management. Another 12 partners participated in the project: incl. Rescue Board, Police and Border Guard Board, Sangar AS, YKK Finland and others. The project offered more than ten options for waste recovery, this time focusing primarily on the textile industry.

In addition, local governments have become increasingly interested in the activities and cooperation of universities and research institutions. The functioning of the education system and science and business is important for the local government. The Estonian country must strive for a purposeful and functioning and mutually integrated system of education, science and business. Based on this, the audience of the Estonian Local Government Day IV was introduced to the possibilities of Adapter, the Cooperation Network of Research Institutions and various examples on the surface of researchers, the public sector and entrepreneurs were discussed.

There are many more examples of how researchers can benefit the public sector and society as a whole. Ordering Estonian language trainings to improve everyday official language is popular. Research on the acquisition of Estonian as a second language is also carried out, where attempts are made to find solutions for failing to acquire the language in Russian schools, etc. It is emphasized everywhere that entrepreneurship education is very important and that the humanities are important here.

All in all, there are no stupid questions that cannot be answered, there is only adapter.ee, which helps in cooperation towards opportunities. So it is always worth asking and putting your topic out there.

Author: Kaja Liivak

Researcher know-how to promote your business