In September 2016, researchers from Rutgers University (USA) launched a series of collaborative projects with Southern Federal University to advance research and commercialization in food science. Although both institutions had collaborated on joint research papers, support of American Councils for International Education provided the opportunity for university representatives to meet face-to-face for the first time. The initiative aims to strengthen the scientific capacity of the two universities as a platform for establishing future programs of cooperation in biotechnology, food science, education, and the commercialization of scientific research.
Dr. Qingron Huang and Dr. Michael Chikindas (Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences) delivered the week-long course covering natural antimicrobials, probiotics, and nanotechnology applications for food and health. Graduate students and faculty of the Academy of Biology and Biotechnology of Southern Federal University attended the lectures and seminars, and enrolled participants received Rutgers certificates. In addition to the academic discussions, Dr. Huang and Dr. Chikindas introduced professors and students to Innovation Park @ Rutgers, a new initiative designed to catalyze the university’s technology-led economic development for New Jersey, as well as research facilities open for future joint research projects. Dr. Ron Huang delivers a talk on food nanotechnology solutions at Southern Federal University.
To advance future joint collaborations in research and education, the expert visitors from Rutgers held strategy meetings with Dr. Anatoly Metelitsa, Vice Rector for Research, and Dr. Elena Fedotova, Head of the International Office. Colleagues discussed scientific areas where the two universities can join efforts to produce new biotechnology research, test products at the proof-of-concept stage, and further develop the entrepreneurial skills of scientists. The two institutions discussed joint educational projects to specifically benefit final-year students and young faculty. As a result of this engagement, the departments at Rutgers and Southern Federal University signed a memorandum of understanding expressing the intentions of both universities to continue and deepen collaboration.
As a follow-up to the meeting, the SFedU International Office and their Rutgers colleagues, with support from American Councils, are now developing an action plan to strengthen and deepen collaboration activities. Next steps include outreach to deans and provosts across both institutions to catalyze partnerships, design of commercialization curriculum, selection of faculty for additional joint research collaborations, distance learning sessions, site visits to the Rutgers innovation ecosystem, selection of university spin-off companies for product testing in market at Rutgers’ business incubators, outreach to Russian agricultural companies, and assessment of technology for additional academic areas of collaboration.