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Enhancing Research and Entrepreneurship in Cleveland and Abroad

CSU team travels to former Soviet Republic of Georgia


A Cleveland State University team recently traveled to Tbilisi, Georgia to launch a program that will cultivate economic partnerships and foster research within Georgian universities. The effort builds on the University’s ongoing efforts to enhance innovation and entrepreneurship nationally and internationally. 

Earlier this month, Dr. Iryna V. Lendel, director of the Center for Economic Development in the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs and Colette Hart, senior director of the Centers for Outreach and Engagement, and Dr. Oya Tukel, associate dean, both in the Monte Ahuja College of Business, launched the University Research and Entrepreneurial Skills Program in partnership with Ilia State University and the Tbilisi Regional Development Agency.

In April, Dr. Jerzy Sawicki, vice president for research, and Jack Kraszewski, director of the Technology Transfer Office, both at CSU, will travel to Georgia to provide training and assistance on university research administration, technology transfer and commercialization. A team from Georgia will then visit Cleveland State University in June to assess the entrepreneurship ecosystem being implemented at CSU, and will return to Cleveland in October to participate in an International Applied Research Symposium focused on entrepreneurship.

"This partnership aligns perfectly with our mission to make our expertise in research, tech transfer and commercialization available beyond the Cleveland State University campus and Northeast Ohio," Sawicki says. "We look forward to working and exchanging ideas with our colleagues in Georgia."   

Funded by a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State through the U.S. Mission to Georgia, the project seeks to assist Georgian universities in enhancing technology transfer, promoting applied research and developing entrepreneurship curricula. Other goals of the project include sharing experience in soliciting external funding and engaging Georgian development intermediaries in fostering the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Georgia is located in the Caucasus region of Eurasia and became an independent nation following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. The nation is currently pursuing a strong path towards economic liberalization along with a pro-Western foreign policy aimed at NATO and European integration.

“Being a post-Soviet country, Georgia has made significant progress in departing from a state-controlled, top-down approach in their economic and educational systems,” Lendel says. “However, there are a lot of areas where we can share our expertise in building university-industry partnerships, conducting public policy-relevant applied research and cultivating entrepreneurship and innovation that will lead to the creation of jobs and wealth nationally.”

During the week-long launch of the program, the CSU team held 26 meetings with existing and potential partners in the Georgian entrepreneurial ecosystem. These partners included six universities, Georgian government funding agencies, their national research foundation, the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and numerous startups, businesses, non-profit organizations and economic development agencies. The group also met with representatives from USIAD and the U.S. Embassy to discuss opportunities to expand access to external funding for Georgian businesses.

“By bringing these organizations together and enhancing communication and collaboration, we hope to improve the overall support system that is available for start-ups, innovators and researchers in Georgia, which will augment the entrepreneurship capacity being developed on campuses throughout the country,” Tukel notes.

The project builds on Cleveland State’s ongoing efforts to promote the development of innovation ecosystems in emerging economies. For example, the College of Business worked with Lebanon last year to develop the nation’s first entrepreneurship conference and is now partnering with several Lebanese universities to expand research and curriculum development in innovation.

“It is our hope that these ongoing efforts will help create an entrepreneurship education model that can be shared with universities around the world to help build economic capacity and economic development for the benefit of multiple nations,” Hart adds.