Barbora Szepeová has worked in the Section of Regional Offices (ORK) in the Slovak Investment and Trade Development Agency (SARIO) since 2019. The primary role of the ORK is communication with local self-governing authorities, local institutions and property owners. In April 2019, the ORK Section launched a pilot project, the Practice for Universities, Solutions for Business, which aims to create an ecosystem for technology and research transfer from academia to practice, stimulate innovation in Slovak companies and improve graduates’ practical skills to reflect market requirements. Thanks to the ORK, the project continued successfully in 2020 and 2021, despite the pandemic. Altogether six faculties from various fields across Slovakia were involved, and established cooperation with companies from Slovakia and abroad.
Fourth year of the project has brought significant increase of interest as more than 80 companies from different areas as well as 9 academic and scientific institutions from Slovakia were involved in it and were able to offer dozens of cooperation opportunities. Due to digitalization pressure, they transferred the project also into online environment via online platform “Practice for Universities, Solutions for Business,” that associates target groups “students – universities – researchers – companies” under the same roof. This online platform is very interactive, modern and enables direct communication between registered members. The platform offers possibility to create thesis, traineeships for students, case studies (with aim to engage companies in education processes and learning activities at higher education institutions and to offer practical skills), research-development projects designed to support companies’ innovations and internal programs. Universities can on the other hand offer services to private sector. Since June 2021, Barbora Szepeová has been coordinator of the project, which is a significant factor in connecting the academic sector with the private one. She is convinced of the key role SARIO plays in facilitating the above project.