Andrey Paznik, the Head of the Sevastopol State University Project Office, Spoke about its Work

A Project Office started working at Sevastopol State University some time ago and its Head, Andrey Paznik, talked about it.


Why does a university need a Project Office?

An urgent need has emerged in Russia to modernize the higher education system. And it is connected with the low competitiveness of universities in the world market. If we turn to the experience of successful foreign universities, it becomes obvious that it is necessary to change the trajectory from an educational institution to an entrepreneurial university. That is why the question arises about the introduction of Project Offices in universities.

What is a Project Office?

It is an organizational model that helps drive change in the university. The task of the Project Office is to achieve strategic development goals, to respond to external challenges at a faster rate than is done in a regular university.

What tasks are being solved in the university Project Office?

The Project Office of the university, in contrast to the classic Project Office, has the task of collecting new projects. It is not engaged in the selection of projects and control of their implementation, but rather in inspiring, motivating, helping in collecting new ones, as well as adding competencies to teams so that they can implement this new one. Sometimes it is very difficult to explain to university staff and students how to engage in new activities.

What is a Project Office based on the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI)?

With the implementation of this model, the university can become one of the main nodes of communication and project work in the region, and the activity on the site of the office can become a driver of positive changes for a huge number of people. The model is focused on supporting and promoting leadership projects that are significant for the socio-economic development of the region.

Tell us about the activities of the Project Office at Sevastopol State University.

In the past year, we have achieved some results in project management and entrepreneurship development. For example, participation in the work of the Foresight NTI 2.0 ‘Technet’, that lasted four months, brought working materials, competencies and expertise in the direction of ‘Advanced Production Technologies’ to the university.

All this time, we analyzed trends, predicted demand, dealt with threats and barriers, thought about how to change the legislation, what kind of specialists should be trained by universities and how, ultimately, to create and grow companies that will make money in new markets?

The results of the NTI Foresight 2.0 are included in the new roadmaps of the National Technology Initiative. We also initiated and developed a trilateral agreement between the university, the Agency for Strategic Initiatives and the Government of Sevastopol, that was signed at the ASI forum ‘Strong Ideas for a New Time’ by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhaev, the Rector of Sevastopol State University, Vladimir Nechaev and General Director of ASI, Svetlana Chupsheva.

The University, with the support of REC, took part in the International Business Mission of manufacturers of high technologies, innovations and industrial automation.

We also implemented a joint project ‘Mentors of Future Entrepreneurs’ with the center ‘My Business’ for university students, in which about 400 people took part, and helped to resume the ‘Marine Start’ contest, that is traditionally held on the site of Sevastopol State University.

The Project Office assisted in the inclusion of Sevastopol State University in the project ‘Startup as a Diploma’, took part in the development of methods for the high-quality functioning of university Project Offices according to the ASI model, and built quality relationships with the economic block of the Government of Sevastopol.

In addition, last year, with the direct support of the Project Office, the team from Sevastopol State University won the Russian National competition for young entrepreneurs in the NTI Foodnet market, organized by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, with the Digital Vineyard project.

What is Startup as a Diploma?

The Startup as a Diploma programme aims to involve talented students in the development of an ecosystem of technology entrepreneurship, as well as to support businesses in the early stages.

The final qualifying work should be a real-life business project created by one student or a team, and should demonstrate the level of preparation of the graduate for independent professional activity.

As Valery Falkov said, this is an opportunity for young students with initiative to try their hand at defending a diploma in such an unusual format. This is quite consistent with the wishes expressed by both the expert community and employers that education should be practice-oriented and provide more opportunities for self-realization.

What promising areas of Project Office work can you identify for the current year?

We plan to take part in the project ‘University as a Development Institution’, to introduce an entrepreneurial track in the educational programme of Sevastopol State University, to conduct a series of events to involve students and employees in entrepreneurial activities at the ‘Boiling Point’ at Sevastopol State University.

We are systematically working with business associations of Sevastopol and Crimea, we plan to create a regional NTI Project Office on the basis of the Sevastopol State University Project Office, develop a roadmap and a regional NTI standard on the basis of our Project Office.

Also this year the project ‘Expertise of Barriers, Risks and Opportunities’ initiated by the Agency for Strategic Initiatives will be launched.

What are your long term goals?

The strategic task for us is to become a ‘University as a Development Institution’, that is, Sevastopol State University will become an entrepreneurial university with its own venture fund for financing startups, acceleration and pre-acceleration programmes, tools for supporting projects from an idea to the level of mature companies and bringing them to international markets. An innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem will be created in Sevastopol, taking into account the best world practices.