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RTU and Riga City Council Agree on Closer Cooperation

22nd of November, 2023
Mayor of Riga Vilnis Ķirsis (left) meets with RTU Rector Tālis Juhna. Photo: Vitālijs Vinogradovs

To strengthen cooperation in the development of innovation and STEM education, Rīga Mayor Vilnis Ķirsis and the city council delegation paid a visit to RTU. During the visit, they learned about technologies and research developed by RTU scientists, which contribute to the development of cities, and discussed closer cooperation to develop science-intensive companies in Rīga.

RTU has already established a successful cooperation with the Riga City Council and its capital companies in the creation of the curiosity center «Futurimo Rīga», increasing children's understanding and interest in STEM. With the support of the municipality, students from the capital city are provided with the opportunity to learn about physics, chemistry, electronics, construction and architecture, water, and other technologies under the guidance of RTU scientists and students. 

Since the opening of the center at the end of April, a total of 86 classes of Riga students have visited «Futurimo Rīga». Exhibits have also been created in cooperation with municipal capital companies, which help children learn the laws of natural science and get to know the technologies that will improve people's lives in a modern city both in the present and future. 

Strengthening STEM education in Latvia and supporting high school students whose schools lack the resources for teaching exact subjects at an in-depth level, RTU offers them the opportunity to study the courses «Chemistry II» and «Physics II» at the RTU Faculty of Materials Science and Applied Chemistry. According to RTU vice-rector for development and finance Artūrs Zeps, RTU provides professional teaching staff, suitable premises, and appropriate teaching content. Several municipalities already use the opportunity to raise the knowledge of their students in this way, he adds. 

RTU scientists also cooperate with Riga capital companies, for example, developing solutions for maintaining the city's water supply system. The Rīga City Council has also decided that the RTU student campus in Ķīpsala will be one of the smart city technology pilot territories in the capital, while the territory on the left bank of the Daugava, where several universities and the Latvian National Library are located a short distance from each other, is being developed as the Knowledge Mile. 

Considering this and the fact that knowledge, technology, and new and emerging talents are already concentrated in one place in Ķīpsala, there are plans for the RTU student campus to be developed as an island of innovation. It would have both a research and innovation contact point for science-intensive companies and industry, as well as a pilot territory for testing new technologies, as well as high-tech small-scale production or pilot lines, explained Liene Briede, RTU Vice-rector for Innovation. She referred to international experience, which proves that by concentrating the university, industry, and start-ups in one place, productivity capacity increases significantly. 

In addition, the creation of such an innovation island would attract private capital not only for the development of science-intensive ideas, but also for various services that would benefit the general public. L. Briede believes that municipal capital companies could also use the RTU student campus as a technology landfill, and potentially become implementers and users of innovative technologies. 

In expressing interest in closer cooperation with RTU, Rīga Mayor V. Ķirsis confirmed several present challenges in water management, transport development, energy efficiency, waste management in the municipality and its capital companies. 

While visiting the university, the mayor of Riga visited the RTU Science and Innovation Center to learn more about digital twin technologies and their potential in smart city development under the guidance of Māris Kaļinka, associate professor of the Department of Geomatics. 

Various sensor technologies are also critical in the development of smart cities. RTU Faculty of Electronics and Telecommunications Institute of Telecommunications researcher Jānis Braunfelds presented a universal sensor signal processing technology, which, built into the road surface, can analyze various data in real time, such as evaluating the condition of the road surface, and durability, predicting its expected service life and possible deformations. 

Meanwhile, Jurijs Kondratenko, the scientific assistant of the Laboratory of Water Research and Environmental Biotechnology, provided details of a solution developed by scientists for draining rainwater without flooding the city's sewage system, which often causes problems during heavy rain. 

The mayor of Riga also acquired knowledge of construction innovations in the Baltics in RTU’s first 3D concrete printing scientific laboratory. The possibilities of this technology are almost unlimited, said laboratory head Māris Šinka. Wider possibilities are also opened by the Personal Protective Equipment Testing Laboratory, with its unique equipment not available anywhere else in the world. Its capabilities will ensure prompt and high-quality testing of personal protective equipment, cooperation with companies and services that manage safety and health - very important at a time when the global community is facing both health and geopolitical challenges.

Rector Tālis Juhna also introduced the mayor to other science and development projects with value for the development of the national economy, as well as the RTU initiative for science and business cooperation, which contributes to the creation of innovations for the Latvian economy - the industrial doctoral program - and invites municipal corporations to use it as well.

Rīgas mēra Viļņa Ķirša vizīte RTU

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