RTU sets an example with cooperation between research and industry and are making a very important contribution to Latvia's economy, and with talent development and investment attraction, emphasized Prime Minister Evika Siliņa during her meetings with RTU management, scientists, and cooperation partners during a recent campus visit.
Visiting the laboratories of RTU, getting acquainted with current research and important development plans, which are intended to promote excellence in areas important for the growth of the global society and economy, E. Siliņa points out that RTU can rightly be proud of excellent research, innovations, and the implementation of scientific achievements in practice.
«RTU has established a well thought, understood, and correct goal - to become one of the 500 best universities in the world. Therefore, studies at the university must take place with research, and the close cooperation implemented by RTU with the private sector - companies and the ecosystem of startups - is very important. The government's task is to support universities and our talents - the 2024 budget has increased funding for higher education and science and has allocated funds for the start-up ecosystem and strengthening STEM education. It is important that large state capital companies cooperate with our universities as much as possible, and we also need to find new solutions for attracting European Union funds and further investments in research and development. If science and industry develop in mutual interaction, our young talents will live and work in Latvia,» she commented.
RTU Rector Tālis Juhna seconded the need to develop closer cooperation between scientific universities and industry. In particular, he pointed out the need to promote the development of human capital. More doctoral students, including industrial doctoral students, will benefit both science and high-added-value business; that is, excellent engineers and high-tech specialists, working in companies' research and development departments, will strengthen Latvia's technological growth. Also, state support is needed for foreign companies to invest in the development of innovation and science-intensive companies.
«The attractiveness of the investment environment is determined by the availability of talent, the transfer of intellectual property, the potential for creating new companies, as well as the market potential, such as the tax environment, etc. We can provide the first three. In the process of cooperation between science and business, we are building the university as an innovation center,» said T. Juhna.
However, state participation would be necessary for the creation of critical infrastructure, for example, Latvia currently has the prerequisites for the development of microchip technologies - the achievements of Latvian scientists in the development of silicon photonics chips, including several world records in data center interconnection technologies, have attracted the interest of both the world's science and business environment, which would be ready invest in Latvia. However, foreign investors expect the state's participation, confirming the importance of this area in the development of the national economy. To start the development of the microchip industry in Latvia, the creation of a chip testing and design laboratory is necessary. Investments in it are estimated at around 20 million. in the amount of euros. A sequential continuation would be the creation of a microchip packaging and prototyping center. By gradually increasing the number of highly educated specialists, the knowledge and technological basis to produce microchips in Latvia would be created.
RTU Faculty of Electronics and Telecommunications tenured professor Oskars Ozoliņš told the Prime Minister that photonics microchips provide faster information circulation with lower energy consumption, which is vital in the transmission and processing of large amounts of data, for example, in artificial intelligence solutions. RTU Vice-Rector for innovation Liene Briede explained that market forecasts show a rapidly growing industry that will globally reach up to one trillion USD per year.
While visiting RTU, the Prime Minister visited the Laboratory of Fiber Optics Transmission Systems of the Faculty of Electronics and Telecommunications, where Professor Sandis Spolītis and leading researcher Toms Salgals presented the research of scientists in microchips and other fields, including research for the needs of the defense industry.
In addition, during the visit to the RTU Scientific Laboratory of Functional Materials Technology of the Faculty of Materials Science and Applied Chemistry (MLĶF), Professor Andris Šutka introduced the Prime Minister to hydrogen and triboelectric energy research. Hydrogen research is another direction where RTU is developing scientific excellence with high added value for the future economy.
On the other hand, the third initiative of excellence is related to the creation of an innovative particle therapy center in the Baltics, where research could be carried out related to the treatment of oncological diseases that have been difficult to cure until CERN's now available characteristic accelerator technology. Kārlis Dreimanis, Director of the Institute of Particle Physics and Accelerator Technology of RTU MLĶF, presented this idea and its benefits for both science and medicine to the Prime Minister.
While visiting the student campus in Ķīpsala, E. Siliņa also visited the Personal Protective Equipment Testing Laboratory, with its wide range of equipment designed for testing and researching masks, respirators, and filters, as well as specialized clothing such as protective clothing and work clothes, along with various textile materials. Laboratory director Professor Inga Dāboliņa introduced this prospective, while Māris Kaļinka, RTU Faculty of Civil Engineering associate professor, demonstrated the "twins" of the Ķīpsala student campus created with the help of 3D measurements and displayed the contribution of RTU scientists, performing a three-dimensional scan of cultural heritage objects in Ukraine in the summer of 2022, which have recorded damages and obtained data that can help war victims with the strengthening and restoration of cultural monuments. Digital twin technologies can also be used for state and civil defense needs, the associate professor added.
The underwater drone created by RTU student Kārlis Bērziņš and RTU Riga Business School student Toms Rožkalns also has potential for use in civil defense. K. Bērziņš told the Prime Minister that both survey and search operations can be carried out with a drone in the climatic conditions of Latvia. Aquatic robotics is being developed in Latvia in cooperation between scientists, business professionals, and robotics enthusiasts.
Raimonds Lapiņš, Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Economy for National Economy Affairs, Ingmārs Pūķis, LMT Vice President, Neils Kalniņš, Director of «5G Techritory», as well as representatives of the Prime Minister's Office also participated in E. Siliņa's visit to RTU.