Island 10-21: Russian First Educational Program For Data Economy and NTI Specialists


Island 10-21, the first intensive workshop hosted by the University of National Technology Initiative (NTI) together with the Russian Venture Company, the Data Economy nonprofit organization, and Far Eastern Federal University, was held on Russky Island on July 10-21. More than 1,000 people attended the event. ITMO University became the workshop education partner: the university’s experts organized a series of study sessions on intellectual property, technological entrepreneurship, cognitive technologies, and scientific communication.

The first Russian educational program for training new data economy and National Technology Initiative specialists, Island 10-21 have brought together Big Data and digital specialists, technological entrepreneurs, startup teams, regional and federal government officials, and promising school students. According to the organizers, Island’s main goal is to create a communication platform that would allow its participants to develop their skills and projects, share best practices, build professional contacts, and create new project teams.

What defines this intensive workshop is its innovatively build program. Participants had the opportunity of choosing from a range of activities at each stage of the event. Moreover, they could switch teams and work simultaneously on different tasks.

The 11-day program included several educational formats: short courses that offered a quick introduction to main digital subjects and tools, NTI and Data Economy projects teamwork, expert lectures, brainstorming clubs that used system thinking for solving creative scientific tasks and making forecasts, and X-labs that united Big Data, artificial intelligence, and blockchain specialists in project work in the fields of new and portable energy sources, neuro technologies, VR/AR, sensorics, and robotics.

“Both the NTI University and Island 10-21 are very experimental in their nature, and that’s what makes them unique. Enabling the participants to create their own education paths, these initiatives also garner the best educational content, repackage it in a relatable and innovative way and present it to a large student audience,” comments Nina Yanykina, Dean of ITMO University’s Faculty of Technological Management and Innovations and Head of ITMO’s Project Management and Innovation Department. “These trailblazing education methods are harmonious with ITMO’s vision of new teaching mechanisms, maximum online immersion, digitization, and expansion of student audiences, and we’re already including them in our program curricula. The NTI University is fast-paced and has an extensive network of partnering institutions with their distinctive academic voices and skills. It is very important for us to be part of this ecosystem and its educational experiments in order to master new approaches and adapt our university to these latest trends.”

ITMO University on Island 10-21

ITMO University contributed to the workshop’s educational program: university experts coordinated numerous educational tracks with themes ranging from intellectual property and technological entrepreneurship to scientific communication and cognitive technologies. ITMO Island 10-21 delegation included Dean of ITMO University’s Faculty of Technological Management and Innovations and Head of ITMO’s Project Management and Innovation Department Nina Yanykina, Director of School of Translational Information Technologies Alexander Boukhanovsky, Development Advisor Oleg Malsagov, Director of Center of Scientific and Technological Foresight Natalia Lukovnikova, Head of Science Communication and Outreach Office Dmitry Malkov, and Vice Head of Science Communication and Outreach Office Daria Denisova.

Technological entrepreneurship and managerial thinking

Oleg Malsagov hosted the entrepreneurship workshop section intended for project team representatives of NTI companies. Its main feature was the managerial thinking module offered as part of the acceleration program created jointly by ITMO University and the Business Alliance technology broker company. Consisting of technology, economics and management branches, the program also helps entrepreneurs develop their communication and presentation skills.

“Preparing our Island 10-21 agenda, we realized that we couldn’t share all of our economics and technologies knowledge in full due to the time limits. That’s why we decided to focus on managerial thinking; practice shows that this is a weak spot for many projects that go through our accelerator program,” shares Oleg Malsagov.

The full managerial thinking training extends over 10 days of lectures, seminars, workshops, and practical work. But the altered Island 10-21 program included 6 two-hour units which the organizers planned to be fully autonomous.

“This format of short intensive study courses was a whole new experience for us. Cramming the study material in such a short amount of time is difficult both for mentors and participants. Developing a comprehensive understanding of the subject requires more time and effort,” explains Oleg Malsagov.

Mr. Malsagov believes however short, these courses gave the participants, some of which are only starting to test the company management waters, some food for thought. The students aiming to build a career in management may want to broaden their knowledge through enrolling to specialized foundation courses and extensive reading.

Another way to amp up your managerial level could be taking part in the full acceleration program. According to Oleg Malsagov, ITMO University and Business Alliance are already thinking about launching a bigger version of their accelerator bootcamp. Although the classes will be held offline, program organizers are interested in creating a corresponding online course which will be more accessible to a wider audience.

“We’re fully geared-up for hosting offline classes; moreover, we’re planning to create an online course, which will take form of a comprehensive package that offers full-scale immersion in the field. ITMO University and Business Alliance brands have a high reputation in the professional community. We’ve developed a unique teaching approach which has proven to yield good results. That’s why we are ready to launch an independent product with a distinctive voice,” concludes Oleg Malsagov.

Science Communication

Dmitry Malkov, Head of ITMO’s Science Communication and Outreach Office, and Daria Denisova, Vice Head of Science Communication and Outreach Office, together with journalist Olga Dobrovidova and senior teacher at the Higher School of Economics Andrey Kozhanov hosted the science communication section.

Their workshop was comprised of two sessions each lasting for three days. Dmitriy Malkov and Olga Dobrovidova coordinated the first session dedicated to science PR and journalism, as well as the prospects of science communication in Russia.

The second track, which was organized by Daria Denisova and Andrey Kozhanov, evolved around the public perception of science communication and modern education in the field. According to Daria Denisova, what made this program truly special was its practice-oriented approach.

“We discussed scientific communication models and talked about how to build effective communication with a target audience and develop an educational track,” shares the expert. “Even though science communication is not mentioned in the National Technology Initiative, it is an integral part of technological development and is thus very important for emerging markets. We’re really glad that we managed to incorporate this module into this educational project.”

Ms. Denisova added that thanks to the experimental format of Island, the audience was very diverse. There were people who use science communication in their work, and those involved in various activities in the field of popularization of science. The module was supported by RVC’s Communication Laboratory.

On the last day of the workshop, the guest speakers were offered to record short videos about their work on

Island 10-21. In his video, Andrey Kozhanov talked about science communication models, while Daria Denisova shared her thoughts about how to start with science communication and what everybody can do in the field, regardless of their status and knowledge level. These videos will become part of a bigger collection of video-courses aimed at attracting new people into the area of science communication.

Results and prospects

Among other participants were Anna Shurtina, Head of ITMO’s Multimedia Technologies Office, Anatoliy Semenov, a manager at Scientific Business Partnership Center, Alexey Dukhanov, Head of Graduate Studies Department, Natalia Kutyina, a student at the Faculty of Technological Management and Innovations, and others.

Elena Gavrilova also took part in the program in the “Business-Architect” track.

“Unfortunately, not all the workshops were useful and practice-oriented. What I liked the most was the course launched by the Strategy 2035 Laboratory; we worked in groups and created the vision of territorial, industrial, and social structure of future Russia. Amir Roberto’s workshop helped me acquire practical skills in promoting a personal brand on Linkedin, while at Vyacheslav Goiko’s workshop I mastered the basic business tools on VK. The program also allowed me to establish many useful connections, first of all with regional authorities,” shares Ms. Gavrilova.

Apart from that, Elena Gavrilova attended a meeting with Gyuzel Baskakova, Head of the Investment Policy Department at the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation. As a result, she was invited to join a working group on intellectual property at the Ministry of Economic Development.

Evaluating the Island 10-21 project, Ms. Gavrilova noted that it would have been even more efficient if listeners had been given more information about the schedule and the speakers.

Nina Yanykina added that the main task for the University of National Technology Initiative (NTI) after hosting Island will be helping students develop their ideas that emerged at the workshop into full-fledged projects. Another purpose of the program is creating demand for the students who took part in the workshop among government officials and companies.

Nina Yanykina

Nina Yanykina

“The knowledge they have gained at Island gives grounds to believe that these people can work efficiently in the areas that are important for the state, e.g. digital economy,” says the expert. “In my opinion, Island is a very good experiment, and its results can be used on every level of education. For example, at the Faculty of Technological Management and Innovations, we plan to include some modules in the curriculum.

National Technology Initiative (NTI) is a Russian state program aimed at creating fundamentally new markets and making Russia a global leader in the field of technology by 2035. NTI champions systems solutions to key technologies and supports necessary changes in rules and regulations, effective measures of financial and human resources development, as well as compensation mechanisms for specialists with required skills.

The 20.35 University of National Technology Initiative is the first Russian university which provides for professional development in the new data economy settings by training company managers, NTI participants, and specialists working on new global markets. University’s defining feature lies in its network-based operation mechanism that combines best practices, courses and learning models of universities and digital education platforms.