Updated: Sep 12, 2019

If you weren’t, this recap is for you. In early November Tallinn University hosted the 4th annual university-industry collaboration festival, In the Right Place, at the Right Time.

This was the first time Tallinn University hosted the event, where universities and R&D centres introduce their latest research and new services to about 300 representatives of businesses, public sector organisations and NGOs. “The aim of the festival is for researchers and entrepreneurs to find new ideas for cooperation and to implement the best ones,” said Katrin Niglas, Vice Rector for Research of Tallinn University,  in her opening remarks.

Katrin Niglas

Divided into 4 themes - humans, nature, creativity and machines - twenty-nine elevator pitches were delivered by researchers representing 10 leading Estonian R&D institutions. The topics ranged from ecotourism to satellites and broadly speaking, the focus of contemporary applied research is on data, digitisation, personification, the environment and human-centred technologies.

Some highlights

  • Kristi Vinter-Nemvalts (Tallinn University) spoke about faster and more efficient onboarding of new employees by studying individual learning habits and designing training methods and tools accordingly;

  • Ilja Šmorgun (Tallinn University) explained why one must focus more on the user (UX) than on the product while developing digital presence on various screens;

  • Tanel Kärp (Estonian Academy of Arts) described the irrational human being from the point of view of services' design, claiming that it would be more effective to consider one's impulsive behaviour instead of trying to change one's pattern of conducts rationally;

  • Kadri-Liis Kusmin (Tallinn University) focused on methods and tools enabling people to gain the competencies required by Industry 4.o, i.e in the future manufacturing;

  • Aaro Hazak (TalTech) revealed that there are clear connections between the organisation of work, employee health and wellbeing, and productivity;

  • Tõnu Esko (Tartu University) explained the business potential of gene cards, i.e how medical big data may benefit businesses in the development of products and services;

  • Martin Möllits presented Timey, a TalTech start-up that develops a smart best-before indicator sticker for the food industry. The sticker on the packaging helps food producers monitor the proper handling of cold-chain transportation and provides the consumer convenient and reliable information about the actual condition of the product.

  • Ivar Kruusenberg presented a Tartu University spin-off, PowerUp Energy Technologies, that provides clean and portable energy by delivering a hydrogen fuel cell backup generator. The solution can be applied to various technologies such as yachts, boats, recreational vehicles, etc.

After each thematic block, the elevator pitches were “hacked” in a panel discussion by representatives of the private sector.

Gunnar Toomemets, CEO of Luminor Estonia explained that external competences are needed in order to move faster. "One has only 24 hours a day and it is impossible to develop everything in-house, even in a large corporation," he said.

"Children of pre-school age do not even know what kind of work they will be doing as adults as many of the future jobs do not exist today. Considering the pace of change we are currently experiencing, it is software engineers and programmers we are short of today," Toomemets added.

Ave Laasi, CEO of Robotex claimed that robots will solve many problems for us in the future, but there are certain tasks that they fail with. "When thinking of the future, it is imperative of the new generations to be as creative as possible," she said.   

J. Margus Klaar, partner and strategist at Brand Manual added that creativity is not magic and can be learned. “The trick is to identify seemingly unrelated facts and still come to a logical conclusion, that looking forward was a mystery but looking back makes sense to everyone.”

„Universities, in cooperation with businesses and the public sector, can be drivers of innovation, economic growth and social development," said Andres Jõesaar, Vice Rector for Creative Activities and Cooperation of Tallinn University and the moderator of the event. He asserted that the university-industry collaboration festival is the best place to look for partners, as it attracts ca 300 entrepreneurs, researchers, trainers, and experts of various disciplines.

At the Right Place, in the Right Time has been organised by the partners of ADAPTER network since 2014. The next festival will take place in Tartu in the autumn of 2019..