Posted by: Misha Martorana, Environment, Science, Technology and Health Officer
Nuclear medicine, scintillation crystals, and bio-security are not the first ideas that come to mind when thinking of international diplomacy. Yet, these are all areas where Ukrainian and American scientists have collaborated within the U.S.-Ukraine Science & Technology Working Group (STWG). Ambassador Tefft welcomed over 30 Ukrainian and American scientists, academics, businessmen, students, and government representatives to the third meeting of the Working Group December 12 to discuss the way forward in science and technology collaborations. The State Agency for Science, Innovations, and Information (SASII) hosted panel discussions in the morning while participants joined a larger U.S. delegation by video conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv in the afternoon.
The STWG was formed in 2009 under the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Commission, which commits our governments to mutual support, friendship, and cooperation. What started as an agreement between SASII and the Department of State has grown to include programs with the National Institute of Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Argonne National Laboratory, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Geological Service.
Already, the STWG has led to educational exchanges to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Water Resource Institute, NASA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and multiple American universities. Exchange programs go both ways, for example, allowing seven scientists from the United States to attend a conference on material sciences in Kyiv in October 2012. By far, one of the most popular STWG programs was the Spark!Lab exhibit, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institute, Art Arsenal in Kyiv, and Embassy Kyiv that attracted more than 40,000 visitors in September. The two sides will soon agree on another round of collaborations for 2013.
One of the most exciting components of this years’ STWG meeting was the chance for participants to meet the next generation of Ukrainian innovators. Viewdle co-founder Yegor Anchishkin spoke at a panel on innovation about the need for clearer legislation to support Ukrainian entrepreneurs. Anchishkin is best known for creating a software program with a team of 40 Ukrainian engineers that accurately recognized facial expressions. Internet giant Google purchased Viewdle for a reported $45 million USD. (http://www.kyivpost.com/content/business/it-business-gets-global-attention-with-google-buy-of-viewdle-316237.html)
As well, 30 award-winning young scientists from the Junior Academy of Sciences, ranging from 15-18 years old, demonstrated their work at the STWG meeting. The students, who traveled from across Ukraine, blew attendees away with their creations, which ranged from a personal laptop transformed into a high resolution microscope to a bioreactor that can convert organic waste into an energy source. Ambassador Tefft spoke to each student and got a personal demonstration of their work. He and other participants were even more energized to collaborate after seeing the amazing amount of potential that exists in Ukraine through these young innovators. (http://man.gov.ua/ua/gallery/page-415)