66th Anniversary of Undip: Strengthening Research University and Innovation-Driven Economy

“Synergy and Acceleration of Undip Towards Indonesia Emas 2045” is the theme of the 66th anniversary of Undip. A theme that motivates Undip to play a significant role for Indonesia Emas 2045. There are two major challenges faced by this nation, namely the demographic bonus and the “middle income trap”. Both are interrelated. A successful demographic bonus is one that gives birth to many new companies and drives the nation’s economy. These innovation-based new companies are born from a conscious movement in higher education as a producer of educated people. Successful innovative companies will lead a country to become a “high-income country”. Undip has the opportunity for this. Undip has pledged itself to become a research university. A highly strategic higher education identity.

This category of university is also required to explore funding from transactions of its research results used by the community. Funds come from the downstreaming and commercialization of research products. Although many realize that research results conducted at universities have considerable commercial potential, transforming discoveries and innovations into commercially viable products has proven to be very challenging. These superior products must have gone through stages for commercialization. There is a level of technology readiness (TKT) that has reached the highest position. There is also a level of innovation readiness (Katsinov) that must surpass the minimum set.

The issue of bringing research results from the laboratory to commercial products and contributing to the economic development of a nation has been studied, among others, by Lee (Yong S. Lee, 1995). In this research, Lee found that academics in the US believe that in economic development, the specific role they can play is industrial innovation. This research conducted a national survey involving around 1,000 professors who are intensive researchers at the University. This research concluded that US academics in the 1990s were more convinced that university-industry collaboration provided better results in their contribution to economic development compared to academics in the 1980s. Most respondents supported the idea that their university actively participated in the development of the local and regional economy. Universities are also expected to facilitate the commercialization of research results by academics and encourage faculty to provide consultation to private companies.

The role of industrial innovation in the economic development of a country that led Paul Romer to win the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics. In 1990, Romer published what has become the basis of economic thinking. Economic thinking related to the role of technology application and innovation in economic growth, productivity, and global progress. Lee’s research also successfully revealed that the majority of respondents rejected supporting the idea of universities being directly involved in close business partnerships with private industry. For example, universities providing initial assistance or equity investment. Many are also concerned that close cooperation between universities and industry could disrupt academic freedom. Freedom to pursue long-term fundamental research. Academics are looking for boundaries for university-industry collaborations that are seen to balance between implementation research to help economic development and fundamental research for scholarly reputation.

The discussion about commercializing research results mainly by research universities continues to evolve. Belitskia, et al. (2019) observed that university scientists worldwide lack knowledge about this. Belitskia et al. identified the role played by Technology Transfer Offices (TTO) and Direct Industry Funding for commercializing research products. This research was conducted in Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Kazakhstan during 2015-2017. Overall, the invention has clear implications for university graduates, technopreneurs, and TTO. In the sense of the quality of invention, the value of invention, and innovation will have implications for the excitement of commercializing research products. The interest of investors aiming to exploit university research products to invigorate the economy is also determined by this.

The Dynamics of a Framework

In 2019, Bazan proposed a way by combining best practices from research team work, research project management, new product development, business development, and established intellectual property management. Combining all these best practices will produce a strong and structured framework (perhaps a kind of Technology Transfer Offices (TTO)). This framework can help university researchers bring their research results to the market. According to Bazan’s report, this framework is also relevant to university researchers who may not intend to turn their innovations into businesses. Researchers who want their innovation to be limited to prototypes that provide a specific appeal to the industry. It is the industry that continues to develop the prototype into a commercially viable and market-needed innovation (Carlos Bazan, 2019, Nur, 2023).

Strengthening the Research University and Industry Teaching

Bazan’s proposal to combine best practices from research team work, research project management, new product development, business development, and established intellectual property management into a framework is an ideal proposal. Established best practices are not easy to build. Moreover, combining all these components with high harmony is not easy. In this less-than-ideal condition, the Teaching Industry scheme may be an alternative, while continuing to improve the components required by Bazan. The Teaching Industry scheme has been implemented in the past few years by the Ministry of Research and Technology/BRIN. Diponegoro University has implemented the Teaching Industry scheme from 2017 to 2019. This program has produced two commercial products licensed with partner companies. The teaching industry scheme allows components such as research teams, research project management and intellectual property, new product development, and its business aspects to be synergized under one roof. This concept can help downstream the research results of the campus, which have been standardized and tested in the real user environment. If run properly, the Teaching Industry can give birth to competent entrepreneurs based on campus innovation. Over the 3 years of the Teaching Industry at Undip, it has produced 2 superior products based on plasma technology innovation. One product is related to indoor air purifiers and is capable of removing microorganism contamination such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses. In the midst of the pandemic conditions of 2021-2022, the cold plasma technology-based product was used to mitigate the transmission of Covid-19 (Nur, Nidom, et al., 2023). The second product is an ozone generator and dedicated ozone cooling space that can be implemented in extending the shelf life of horticultural products. A method developed during the Teaching Industry program and resulting in SNI 8759:2019. This plasma ozone storage application method has become the hope for post-harvest management of horticultural products (Nur et al., 2019; Susan, 2018).

The readiness to obtain the best practices of the proposed components by Bazan needs to be continuously improved, but in parallel, the Teaching Industry scheme should also be a focus in the milestone stages of Strengthening the Research University development of Diponegoro University. Based on the experience of managing the Teaching Industry and downstreaming plasma technology, the author was invited as a resource person by the Academic Senate of UNS in a Focus Group Discussion. The title raised was the Governance and Implementation of Innovation, Downstreaming, and Commercialization: Glimpsing the Experience of Plasma Technology in Indonesia (Nur, 2023). Long live Diponegoro University! Congratulations to the university’s organization: Rector and all ranks, MWA, and Academic Senate. Congratulations to all academic community members.

(Semarang, 14 October 2023, Muhammad Nur, a plasma technology developer in Indonesia from the Department of Physics, FSM)




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