Millions invested in research facilities
Two years ago one passing by busy Kaunas Baršausko street would have noticed a construction site full with scaffolding and builders. Today the area proudly displays the new Santaka Valley KTU Science and Technology Centre and Technological Business Incubator. With a few weeks left to the opening ceremony the final touches of the decoration – furnishing of the laboratories, fitting of the specialized equipment – are taking place.
KTU Santaka Valley will host around 350 work places. 9 thousand square meters for research facilities will house laboratories fitted with 89 million Litas (almost 26 million Euros) worth research equipment. More than 150 million Litas (almost 44 million Euros) was invested in the project overall.
Almantas Danilevičius, the director of KTU National Innovation and Entrepreneurship centre (NIVC) confirms that KTU Santaka Valley research facilities are gradually being inhabited by the scientists of the University research institutes.
‘Santaka Valley state-of-the-art laboratory equipment matches international standards; our professionals will be able to perform R&D services to a wide range of businesses in various fields. Medical diagnostic technologies, renewable and alternative energy, applied and industrial non-organic chemistry comprise only a fraction of KTU Santaka Valley institutes’ research areas. NIVC, which coordinates the R&D activities in both Nemunas and Santaka valleys, will be able to offer more than 1 thousand specialized services for business and industry,’ says Danilevičius.
Cleanroom and nanotechnologies
ISO 5 cleanroom installed in the new KTU Santaka Valley is one of the examples that the research infrastructure here meets international standards. The establishment of the cleanroom is a result of a successful collaboration between KTU and the University of Southern Denmark.
‘This is the first cleanroom in Lithuania meeting ISO 5 standard requirements with 1.5 million Litas (almost 0.5 million Euros) worth specialized laboratory equipment. The density of the particles in the air of the cleanroom is reduced to 35 particles in a cubic meter. Compare: the usual density is 35 million per cubic meter,’ says Danilevičius.
The equipment installed in the cleanroom is already being used for nanotechnology, semiconductors and microelectronics elements research on international standards.
KTU Santaka Valley will also accommodate laboratories for undertaking biomedical, biotechnology, material science, physics and chemical engineering technology research.
The new premises will house KTU Institute of Materials Science, Professor K. Baršauskas Ultrasound Research Institute and other research centres for carrying out world class research.
Changing national research landscape
Inspired by Chinese philosophical concept of Yin and Yang the new KTU Santaka Valley building finishes the urban vision of the University Campus. The new KTU Valley being an important Kaunas architectural landmark is also becoming an important object attracting businesses.
‘The visitors of the city notice its competitive advantages that are of upmost importance both locally and globally,’ says Danilevičius.
Last month an agreement with an Italian company Gruppo Fos was signed for the establishment of a biomedical engineering research centre. After their first visit last summer, the company was greatly impressed by the infrastructure at Santaka Valley, and by the opportunity to work under the same roof as the University’s researchers and students in new premises and state-of-the-art laboratories.
‘In Kaunas we found the ideal conditions for our biomedical engineering centre: well-developed logistics, direct contact with scientists and students, and modern research facilities. We were also impressed by the help of the various institutions – all the institutions we encountered made a significant contribution towards the implementation of our project in Lithuania,’ Matteo Pedrelli, CEO of Gruppo Fos, said.
‘This is just one example – I believe that in the near future Kaunas will become an export centre for innovative products. The establishment of KTU Santaka Valley opens possibilities to attract global investment, to develop international collaboration, to invite researchers from all over the world and to strengthen the competitiveness of Kaunas and of Lithuania,’ Danilevičius is convinced.
Bridge between research and business
Danilevičius is convinced that if a company wishes to stay in business it has to learn to work differently, to apply new methods. The modern economy tendencies alters business priorities, focus shifts towards knowledge economy and innovation development. In other words, the products created in Lithuania must have an added value in order to be able to compete globally. This added value can be obtained only through intellectual resources by creating unique technologies.
‘Technological progress without intellectual researchers’ resources and specialized equipment is impossible, therefore the dialogue between science and business is of crucial importance,’ says Danilevičius. KTU Santaka Valley will become a great base for students’ learning and practice, the first in Lithuania to offer conditions equal to those present in best universities across the world.
The celebratory opening of KTU Santaka Valley 14 November 2014 will start the international conference ‘Lithuanian Research and Industry 2014: Valleys as a Medium for Innovation Economy’. For more information on the event please visit a dedicated section of KTU page.