The Second international conference “Exploring the Energetic Universe 2019”

The Second international conference “Exploring the Energetic Universe 2019” opened at Nazarbayev University today. The Energetic Cosmos Laboratory organized the conference, supported by the International Science and Technology center. Researchers from the US, Italy, Norway, Great Britain, Korea, Kazakhstan, India, Japan, Uzbekistan and Russia will take part in the conference. The conference’s program committee was chaired by George F. Smoot, winner of a Nobel Prize in Physics, and the founder and director of the Energetic Cosmos Laboratory at NU.

The conference began with a discussion of the fundamental problems of astrophysics and cosmology. The organizers noted that new technological developments have greatly increased the number of discoveries in space, and the number of recent discoveries have broken records of previous decades. These technological developments include such things as new means of diagnostics and registration of signals from space based on quantum detectors (including ultra-low temperatures conditions), computer science, and computational mathematics. The process of discovery has also been facilitated by the accelerated exploration of near-Earth space.

“There have been a lot of interesting discoveries in astrophysics lately: e.g. gravitational waves, just recently, the world received the first in the history of mankind a photographic image of a black hole. This is really great that Kazakhstan is also contributing to the development of space research. We at Nazarbayev University managed to establish close international cooperation with the Berkeley laboratory (USA), research centers of France and Hong Kong. The task of our laboratory is to actively involve Kazakh youth in these studies”, – said Dr. George Smoot, Head of the Energetic Cosmos Laboratory of NU.

“Space science is one of the promising innovative directions for Kazakhstan. And our center also supported the holding of this conference as an opportunity to share knowledge and experience in this field”, – said David Cleave, Executive Director of the International Science and Technology Center.

The conference serves as a platform for interaction of specialists in the field of cosmology and astrophysics, not only strengthening existing areas of cooperation between universities and research centers of Kazakhstan and CIS countries, but also in developing of new areas of collaboration.

About the Energetic Cosmos Laboratory: 
The Energetic Cosmos Laboratory was founded at Nazarbayev University in 2016 as an international research center under the leadership of Professor George F. Smoot. The main activities of the laboratory include cryogenic setup for MKIDS detectors and other cryogenic sensors, fast bursts; multi-band optical telescope experiments to measure gamma bursts and other transients; ultra-fast astronomical instruments, as well as cosmology theory and data analysis.


Nazarbayev University holds the Summer Research Program for students of Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools

On June 16th, Nazarbayev University welcomed forty 10th and 11th grade pupils from the Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools of the Republic of Kazakhstan to participate in the Summer Research Program. The program’s welcome included speeches and participation by Loretta O’Donnell the Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs, as well as various deans and NU faculty. A special guest, Zhuldyz Suleimenova the Director of the Department of Development of Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools, wished that the participants have a fruitful and exciting time at the University.

The two-week program is aimed at attracting talented students, maintaining continuity between secondary and higher education, as well as promoting STEM-education. Project presentations will be organized for the school children, including contributions from the School of Medicine, the School of Engineering, the School of Science and Technology, the School of Mining and Geosciences, and the School of Social and Human Sciences. In addition, participants will attend academic English language classes.

Last year, Nazarbayev University organized a similar program for 200 NIS students from different regions of Kazakhstan.


A HISTORIC EVENT NOT TO BE MISSED THIS SUMMER

This summer from August 16th to 20th, more than 500 people will take part in the 2019 Harvard College Project for Asian and International Relations Conference (HPAIR 2019), in Nur-Sultan the capital of Kazakhstan. The event is organized by students of Nazarbayev University. According to the conference’s organizing committee, more than 70 international and regional speakers have been invited to address conference goers during the week’s proceedings.

“HPAIR student leaders carry on the Harvard tradition of creating opportunities to learn by doing. It’s a hallmark of the HPAIR experience that has benefited generations of students – including myself. I was a student delegate from the University of Cambridge at the HPAIR conference in Seoul in 1996 and subsequently served as a workshop leader at the HPAIR conference in Hong Kong in 1999 during my time as a predoctoral fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School”, said Dr. John Park, Director of the Korea Working Group and Lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School, current HPAIR advisor (USA).

“HPAIR conferences have given me exposure to the geopolitical challenges, socioeconomic issues, and start-up ecosystem in Asia. The conferences had amazing speakers and panel discussions as well as some great cultural events. The 2018 Asia Conference was the first international event I attended; it was a breakthrough to the outside world and truly shaped who I am today. It specifically opened doors to learning more about entrepreneurship and sustainability, which led me to join two start-ups and take my work ahead on mental health”, said Dravisha Katoch, HPAIR Harvard College Conference 2019 delegate, entrepreneur and Co-Founder of “Aida” companies (India).

As previously reported, this is the first time in the HPAIR Conference’s history that the event will be hosted in Eurasia. Students of Nazarbayev University won the right to hold the conference competing with universities in Singapore, Japan, China, Taiwan and India. The 2019 HPAIR conference coincides with the Year of Youth in Kazakhstan.


THE XVI ASIAN LOGIC CONFERENCE

The XVI Asian Logic Conference was held at Nazarbayev University on June 17-21, 2019. During the conference presenters shared recent scientific developments in the field of mathematical logic and its applications, logic in computer science and philosophical logic.


“This is the first time a conference on mathematical logic at this level has been held in Kazakhstan” – said Manat Mustafa, Assistant Professor of the Department of Mathematics, School of Science and Technology. Despite its title, the conference is open to participants from all the continents. In particular, this year the event was attended by more than 100 mathematicians from 30 countries, including Kazakhstan, USA, UK, Japan, Korea, Canada, China and India.

The Asian logic conference is held every two years in an Asian country. The last conference was held in 2017 in Daejeon (Korea).


The 5th International Symposium on Asian Languages and Literature was held at Nazarbayev University

On June 20-22, 2019 the Department of Kazakh Language and Turkic Studies (KLTS), Nazarbayev University, SHSS in cooperation with Erciyes University (Turkey) and Akhmet Yassawi International Kazakh-Turkish University (Kazakhstan, Turkistan) held the 5th International Symposium on Asian Languages and Literature on the topic “Intersection of Cultures”. The symposium was aimed to gather researchers and create more opportunities for the flow of ideas on topics of Cultural Studies, Literature, Asian Languages, and Education.

Three keynote speakers Wen-chin Ouyang (SOAS University of London UK), Anna Oldfield (Coastal Carolina University, USA) and Kuderinova Kuralay (Institute of Linguistics of the National Academy of Sciences, Kazakhstan) have delivered their keynote speech at the symposium:

Wen-Chin Ouyang “Coffee, Coffeehouse, and Empire: The Silk Roads of World Literature”
Anna Oldfield “Translation as Survival: The Search for Utopia in English – Turkic Translation”
Kuralay Kuderinova “Kazakh Oral Language: Past, Present, and Future”.
40 papers were presented at the symposium in Kazakh, English and Turkish languages.

The symposium has been successfully organized with the efforts of Erciyes University (Turkey) and Akhmet Yassawi International Kazakh-Turkish University (Kazakhstan, Turkistan) and faculty of KLTS department, Nazarbayev University.


Asian Universities Alliance student competition: Good governance in the 21st century and its challenges 

On 17-21 June 2019, Nazarbayev University (NU) hosted the Asian Universities Alliance (AUA) Student Competition for students of the AUA member institutions. The theme of this year’s Competition was “Good Governance in the 21st Century and its Challenges”.

A diverse group of 20 undergraduate and graduate students from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay), National University of Singapore (NUS), Seoul National University (SNU), and NU participated in the Competition.

– The objectives of the Competition are to help participants enhance their skills in negotiations and in communications within their team and with the wider audience, and leveraging on the strengths of team members to develop the most feasible solution to a policy challenge within a limited period of time. To improve on quality of students’ projects, faculty of the Graduate School of Public Policy (GSPP) provided a series of special lectures on stakeholder analysis, innovations in governance, strategic thinking, and communication strategies, – commented Dr. Weng Tat Hui, the Dean of GSPP.

Teams from HKUST and SNU became the winners of the competition in undergraduate and graduate categories respectively. The HKUST team “Orange” presented the topic of better governance on cross-boundary water resources management in Central Asia. The team R4R from SNU analyzed and presented effective governance measures to tackle refugee issues in host countries through collaborative action from state and civil society.

It is noteworthy that last year, NU “AUA Asia Deep Dive” cultural program gathered together students from Chulalongkorn University, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, King Saud University, National University of Singapore, Nazarbayev University, Peking University, Seoul National University, Tsinghua University, University of Colombo, University of Malaya, University of Tokyo, and University of Yangon.

About AUA: In 2017, 15 flagship universities of the respective nations from across Asia jointly launched the Asian Universities Alliance (AUA). The mission of the Alliance is to jointly address regional and global challenges, specifically related to higher education and economic, scientific and technological development, by strengthening collaboration among each other.


Schools Challenge for future engineers

This year, Nazarbayev University was a co-organizer of the Republican contest “Nazarbayev Fund Schools Challenge”. This competition is for school children of Kazakhstan, and focuses on Engineering and technical sciences.

Earlier in the year, 100 teams with 500 members competed at the regional round. From this round, 17 teams, made up of 85 participants advanced to the final round of the competition, which took place on July 17. Finalists presented their projects to a jury which included a notable member, Anarbek Utegulov, who is the program head of ABC Incubation (NURIS). The grand prize for this competition is an exciting education trip happening this August to Cranfield University (UK) – one of the leading universities in the world in the field of aerospace design and development of “green” technologies. This trip will be awarded not only to the winning team, but to two lucky students from each of the other 16 finalist teams. 

 

Completion of the Summer research program for school children at Nazarbayev University

On June 28, 2019, the children of Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools completed the Summer research program at Nazarbayev University. The Vice-President for Student Affairs and International Cooperation Kadisha Dairova and the Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences Daniel Pugh congratulated students on a successful completion of the program and wished them further success in their studies.

During the two-week program, participants learned about the activities and faculty of the various schools at Nazarbayev University: School of Medicine, School of Engineering, School of Science and Technology, School of Mining and Geosciences, and School of Humanities and Social Sciences. For instance, during their time at the School of Engineering, the school children became acquainted with the graphical user interface “Arduino” and prepared solid models for three-dimensional (3D) printing. Scientific projects highlighting the four fundamental disciplines – chemistry, biology, physics and robotics – were presented by the School of Science and Technology. Students were exposed to methods of geological exploration and mining by learning about the geology of the Tortkuduk field while visiting the School of Mining and Geosciences. During the program, the participants attended the Simulation Center in the School of Medicine, where they learned about cardiac arrest and suffocation, and were able to practice CPR skills with the help of a resuscitation mannequin. Moreover, the program participants had an express course in Chinese language, delivered by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

During the second week, students attended an Academic English course, which culminated in students presenting individual academic essays on topics including globalization, the environment, and new technologies. The goal of the academic essay was for students to apply the skills they had just learned and to practice presenting the key ideas of their work. The students successfully demonstrated a high level of English and presentation skills.

In addition to academic activities, various leisure activities were offered: sports, cinema, public speaking meetings, cultural exchange, intellectual game in Russian, a session with University alumni, and much more. The event’s organizer – the Department of Lifelong Learning – would like to thank all the individuals and groups who made these two weeks possible. They would especially like to thank the Alumni Association of the University and its director Arman Konkobay, the Nazarbayev University Toastmasters Club, the iGEM team, all of the NU volunteers, and Jeremy Swanson a visiting intern from the School of Business at the University of Wisconsin. 


Nazarbayev University hosted IQanat Republican Olympiad

Nazarbayev University recently welcomed 9th-grade students from Kazakhstani rural schools to the IQanat Republican Olympiad. The opening ceremony and event hosted 712 students and was organized by IQanat Foundation. The main goals of this event are to support and motivate students from rural schools in obtaining equal access to admission to national and foreign universities. Since 2019, the IQanat Program has operated in 162 rural districts of the country, reaching more than 30,000 rural school students, of which 712 qualified to participate this Olympiad final.

This Republican Olympiad focused on English, Mathematics, Physics, and Writing an essay. In addition to the competition, the 9th-graders had opportunities during the week to participate in various training series focused on the development of soft skills, which are important for their personal growth and healthy self-esteem. In the end, the Olympiad winners will be awarded by grants to study at national universities of the country.

This is the second year that Nazarbayev University has provided assistance to the IQanat Republican Olympiad in cooperation with the IQanat Foundation.


The place of Oriental philosophy is on NU campus

The Nazarbayev University Cultural Center opened last July. Since then, the center has been welcoming all guests all year round. We talked to Rauan Kishkeev, the manager of the USM administrative complex management service, who told us more about the Japanese Garden of Stones.

– The center is located on NU’s campus and occupies about 200 square meters. It includes the Japanese garden, as well as an adjacent glass pavilion, where one can hold various events or just come to meditate. The Japanese Garden of Stones is a place of philosophical significance and sacral power. In Japan, it is believed that stones have always had a special power. Since ancient times, a cluster of cobbles and boulders has been considered a sacred place marked by the gods. In such places people performed rituals, prayed and meditated. The stones used in NU’s garden were brought from Japan.

It is said that our garden is an exact copy of an existing garden in Kyoto, Japan, whose layout served as a model for the location of the stones and lines in our garden. It is interesting, that if you look at the garden from any point of view it is only possible to see 14 stones at once – the fifteenth will always be hidden from your eyes. It is believed that only a person who has reached enlightenment can see all 15 stones at once. As far as I know, our visitors have not yet been able to see it (laughs).

As you know, the developer who drafted the master plan for our university’s garden was a famous Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa. NU was very excited about the opportunity to have such a center and Japanese garden of stones designed by this architect on the territory of the university. The idea was to reflect a balance between learning and the desire for knowledge, as well as knowledge of oneself and a philosophical view of the world. I think there is always a need for this, for all peoples and at all times.

– How many visitors do you have to visit the center?

– Today our center has become a favorite place to rest, and not only for students. There are regular visitors who come almost daily, often at the same time of day. Many women with children like to walk here, because they claim that visiting the center and walking in the garden calms the children, and helps them to sleep long and hard. There are students who come in their free time and walk in the garden, as well as bring their parents and other guests here.

In addition to being a place for individuals to rest, meditate, and walk, it is possible to host events at the center. To organize an event on the center’s premises, please send a request to our service in order to arrange access to the building. We have also been approached by representatives of the Embassy of Japan, who have held their events and photo shoots here.

– How do you take care of our garden?

– I think everyone will agree that in order to please visitors, a place should be kept clean and in order. The Garden of Stones is no exception. In winter we cover the stones with a special tarpaulin to protect the garden from snow. Since the garden is outdoors, it can have problems draining, and the wind can damage the sand pattern, etc. Therefore, I regularly groom the sand matrix around the stones in a certain pattern symbolizing the waves. For this purpose, we have made a special tool modeled on a Japanese sketch, reminiscent of a rake, which is used to create this motif. Because the garden’s layout was created according to Buddhist principles, it is very important to keep the exact arrangement and composition of the stones as planned by the architect. This means that the groupings of stones and the pattern of the pebbles needs to remain unchanged. To maintain the garden successfully, a person instrumental in its design traveled all the way from Japan in order to instruct our employees in person in the proper rules and care for the garden’s upkeep.


It is very important for us that the garden’s visitors respect this cultural object and the work of those who take care of it. We have had some problems in the past, and we would like to remind the visitors of our rules so that everyone may enjoy the garden as it is intended. The garden rules are posted at the entrance to the garden. The most important are the following: please do not spoil the white marble chips, modify the sand drawing, sit on the stones, or move them. There are special paths for walking throughout the garden from which all the unique compositions of stones can be seen, so there is no need to step off the path! I would like to take this opportunity to call for more respect for the garden, by reminding you of the philosophy of love of nature, reflection and privacy, on which it is based. I think you will agree with me that if we allow this philosophy to guide our visits, then all of our guests will be able to enjoy the garden equally. They will be able to see, understand, contemplate, and admire it. I invite everyone to visit our center.


Beauty of Science

Nazarbayev University recently opened a photo exhibition entitled the “Beauty of Science” featuring the work of Dr. Vadim Yapiyev, alumnus of NU School of Engineering, and Sholpan Kauanova, a PhD-student of NU School of Engineering. The photos are hanging from ropes among the palm trees in the University’s atrium.

This collection was inspired by both photographers’ doctoral dissertation research. The exhibition is a celebration of scientific research locals, topics, and methods. Specifically, Vadim Yapiyev’s research is related to studying Burabai’s environment and during his frequent research trips he created photographs showing the region’s beauty. Sholpan Kauanova, in turn, employs microscopy methods in her research, and she captured all of these fascinating images during photo shots on campus in one of NU’s laboratories.

“The photograph of Ulken Shabakty was taken from the top of Kokshetau Mountain in the spring of 2013, when we only began to conduct research on the water balance of the Burabay lake system. A photo of a micrometeorological station, that uses the Eddy Covariance Method to measure the energy and water balance of Lake Shortandy (Shuchye), is also presented in the exhibition. The station was installed on a small island of the lake in 2016. I think the meaning and value of our exhibition is precisely in this – in those ties that exist between Science and Beauty, Empirical and Aesthetic Perception of the World and Nature,” said Dr. Vadim Yapiyev.

The photo exhibition will be open for one month, and it will be available to all university guests.


Alma mater: the future begins today 

We interviewed Yekaterina Khamzina, a graduate of the School of Medicine with a degree of “Doctor of Medicine/MD”. Yekaterina talks about her experience studying at the School of Medicine and her future medical career.


Mobile phones in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease

Researchers at Nazarbayev University and the National Laboratory Astana are studying the effect of mobile phone frequency electromagnetic fields for the treatment of age-related dementia. The scientists started investigating opportunities for how radiofrequency electromagnetic fields could be used in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) therapy, and they selected a frequency of 918 MHz because it is so commonly used in mobile phones.

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of age-related dementia is usually characterized by loss of memory, dramatic changes in character and behavior, and, at later stages, by the inability to carry out normal daily life activities. According to scientists, the cause of the disease is the accumulation of the toxic beta-amyloid peptide (Aβ42) in brain tissues, which leads to oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction, and ultimately – the death of nerve cells.

The study provides an insight into the mechanisms when an electromagnetic field of 918 MHz frequency suppresses oxidative stress triggered by beta-amyloid.

– We have studied the results of scientists from the USA, who have already conducted experiments with the same parameters of electromagnetic irradiation in 6 month exposure period. In our experiments, we used human and rat astrocyte cultures (model cells) and shorter exposure periods of 60 minutes. The results of our studies, obtained by irradiation of cells with an electromagnetic field frequency of 918 MHz in a period of up to 24 hours, confirmed the ability of the electromagnetic field to suppress oxidative stress, which indicates the possible therapeutic effect, – comments Andrey Tsoy, researcher of the Laboratory of Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine, PI “National Laboratory Astana”. Thus, irradiation with an electromagnetic field frequency of 918 MHz can probably be used in the treatment of AD patients. Taking into account the data obtained, Nazarbayev University’s scientists plan to continue research in this direction.

Earlier we described the role of human intestinal microflora in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Within the framework of the study, samples of intestinal flora of elderly people suffering and not suffering from AD were collected for comparison.


Nazarbayev University team won at the Smart Scooter International Competition in Barcelona

This past week the international Castelloli Smart Scooter Challenge competition was held in a picturesque corner of Spain. Students from different countries had a chance to participate with their self-made scooters on the racing track Parkmotor de Castelloli. Previously we reported about the NU TEAM’s work on the SteelG based on the Nazarbayev University’s Innovation Cluster. The team consists of two second year students from the School of Engineering and Digital Sciences Yersultan Baymukhan and Maksat Anuarbek, a graduate from the School of Science and Technology Sultanmurat Yeleu, and a second year student from the School of Sciences and Humanities Akmaral Kalmanbayeva.

The electric scooter was built to model the technical specifications of the world’s largest manufacturers. The SteelG also has a folding design, and uses an application called SmartApp to monitor speed and battery charge, and serve as an electronic key to start the engine, which significantly reduces the risk of theft.  

After the scooter successfully passed all static tests – moisture protection in conditions of pelting rain, brake system, pilot safety, and mass-dimensional characteristics – it then went for dynamic testing. Sultanmurat, the team member who developed of a mobile application also served as one of the pilots. He trained on an artificial track at the university, and then on the Castelloli track the day before the race, which was essential for the team’s successful completion of the race.

The Castelloli Smart Scooter Challenge, not only included showing off the engineering of the scooter, but also the presentation of a marketing business plan. Akmaral analyzed the Kazakhstani market from top to bottom and, the competition’s judges decided that the NU TEAM’s business plan was the most elaborate and likely to be successfully implemented.

Not every team in attendance met the completion’s preliminary round requirements to progress to the finals. The NU TEAM’s SteelG is an amazing accomplishment and they proudly won the competition in all categories: static, dynamic, business plan, design, and final engineering design report.

In the near future, the team plans to commercialize the project and take part in the four-month program of the business incubator of Nazarbayev University’s Innovation Cluster whose aim is to support early stage high-tech startups. The students will receive coworking office space, access to experienced mentors, technical support for further development and master the basics of business education.

Contacts for the media: 8 (7172) 70-92-99 (66-43), email: pr.nuris@nu.edu.kz, website: nuris.nu.edu.kz


OUR GREEN CAMPUS

Since its opening, Nazarbayev University has cultivated a culture of respect for the environment. NU not only tries to plan and follow a “green” agenda, but has also been committed to the development of green technologies. Gulzhan Yermekova, the head of the Green Campus and Environment Development Office, told us about the office’s current projects and the results of the recent Climate Launchpad competition held at Nazarbayev University.

The Green Campus project was launched in 2016 in order to promote a culture of respect for the environment and to develop environmental sustainability at the University. Today, our Green Campus office, the Green Campus University Committee and the NU Green Society student community are participating in the project.

The main tasks of the Office include coordinating all university activities in the field of sustainable development, developing strategic documents and environmental policy, as well as coordinating activities related to environmental protection projects. The Green Campus office works very closely with the NU Green Society, a student organization with more than 50 students. We are pleased to support our students’ eco initiatives, such as Green Week, master classes, eco-trips and many others. The Green Campus Committee is a ‘think tank’ project organization that generates ideas and projects and discusses their implementation. It also discusses the most pressing issues related to environmental life on our university campus that need to be addressed. The committee includes professors, researchers, students, heads of subsidiaries and structural units of the University.

This year, the Office launched a Sustainability Living Lab program to support students’ and employees’ research and innovation projects on campus. To date, five projects have been implemented under this program: a greenhouse, farm corner, biodiesel, paidamate and a green box. In September, the second stage of applications for participation in the program will begin. Our partner and sponsor of this program is Chevron.

Two priority environmental areas: reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and improvement of the waste management system were identified as the main areas for Green Campus in the near future. In order to achieve these goals, the Office is developing a five-generation Carbon Management Plan and is implementing a collection system for different types of waste on campus: waste paper, plastic, glass, batteries, mercury-containing lamps and others.

The office also pays serious attention to landscaping the campus. This year alone, about 600 trees were planted and donated to the university by Freedom Finance, Altyn Bank, Kazatomprom and Transtelecom. By the end of this year, we plan to plant about 1000 more trees.

Recently, Nazarbayev University hosted one of the stages of the Climate Launchpad contest. Tell us about its purpose and results?

Yes, indeed, there is an international competition aimed at finding and supporting talents in the field of green and clean technologies, called the “Climate Launchpad Competition”, and Nazarbayev University recently hosted the national-level semi-final round. This is the second year that the event has been held at NU, and this year the Green Campus Office and Astana Business Campus were event partners. This year there were more than 80 applications from all over Kazakhstan interested in participating in the contest. There were 12 teams total who progressed to the semi-finals by proposing various ideas in the field of ecology and environmental protection. These teams came from from different parts of our country: Aktobe, Almaty, Kokshetau, Karaganda, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Taldykorgan.

Last week semifinalists took part in BootCamp training sessions with the participation of Elena Mesya, a coach from Climate Launchpad. Each of the participants of the Climate Launchpad contest got an opportunity to present their team and share their ideas. Working in teams helped them to analyze startup opportunities, studying business strategies and marketing basics. Upcoming, there will be a follow-up session in August, as well as a national final, the winner of which will go to the Grand Final in Amsterdam. In turn, we would like to thank all the teams for their participation in the competition, for their active citizenship in protecting and preserving the natural environment, and wish them good luck in the subsequent stages of the competition.

Which of the most interesting projects presented at the contest could you highlight?

All the projects submitted to the contest are interesting in their own way. And the most valuable thing about them is that all of them are aimed at solving society’s environmental problems and encouraging a culture of environmentalism within the population. I am glad that today more and more people are thinking about the need to improve environmental security and offer various ways to restore and maintain the ecological balance in the world.

As an example of wonderful ideas aimed at solving the accumulated environmental problems in the society, I can lists some the projects admired by the competition committee. The HydroPlat project, for example, aims to protect the environment from toxic waste by producing useful nanomaterials that will replace platinum in hydrogen cars. In particular, it involves the use of genetically modified cyanobacteria capable of absorbing hydrogen sulfide, converting hydrogen into gas and burning it to produce nanomaterials.

Another project proposes to treat waste water and drinking water for contamination with heavy metals of oil and oil products by using natural minerals such as bentonite and zeolite. Another interesting project is the idea of creating an absorbent that will conserve rainwater by absorbing and keeping it in the soil until the moment of drought, allowing plants to withstand dry conditions.

The TopyraQ project will recycle organic waste on mineral- and nutrient-rich landfills with the help of healthy worm dwellers. The production of organic fertilizer from bird droppings, using a biopreparation based on effective soil microorganisms (ESM), is proposed by the Super Microbes project. According to the author of this project, the recycling of bird droppings and the production of organic fertilizers will contribute to the reduction of air, soil and water pollution by toxic waste from poultry production.

Interesting projects in construction, production and business can also be highlighted. Thus, one of the projects proposes to produce construction materials with the addition of ordinary reeds (plants): cane bricks or cane slabs, which can be an alternative to the stone bricks or concrete slabs used in construction. Another project of Clear Air offers to equip chimneys of private houses and small boiler-houses with relatively inexpensive liquid filtration systems. The Ecocement project offers technology for the production of incombustible eco-cement, as well as the production of ultra-lightweight foam concrete based on the eco-cement.

Riddle’s business idea, which is to create a service to recycle used clothes and garments by hand-designing new outfits, is also interesting.

Each of the projects submitted to the contest is interesting and valuable in its own way, with its own rationality, and, most importantly, the desire to change our world for the better, make it cleaner, safer and more environmentally friendly. I am sure that such initiatives will help to achieve the goal of ensuring the safety of the natural environment and minimizing the negative consequences of human impact on the planet’s ecology.

7 tips for Startupers

Tip # 1. Keep in mind … 

That before initiating a startup you most probably were an employee or provided services under a civil contract to other companies, Kazakhstani and/or foreign. 

The idea that once you “terminate employment or civil law relations – that it is the end of your obligations” does not always apply. It is possible that by signing a contract, you could have assumed obligations that will be binding after the actual termination of the relationship, perhaps even indefinitely. For example, the obligation of non-disclosure of confidential information (NDA, non-disclosure agreement) or non-competition (NCA, non-compete agreement). 

What startupers need to know about contracts with employers or contractors: 

- Nondisclosure agreements should be read carefully! 

- It is necessary to ascertain who owns the right to intellectual property (IP) – products, services, technologies, and industrial designs – that you created and in the creation of which you were involved. Some companies consider their intellectual property those products that are produced by employees during the contract period, even during off-work time. Therefore, you have to be careful. 

- If you have been involved with a contractor from another country in the development of intellectual property, find out how IP disputes are resolved in those jurisdictions. For example, in the United States, a non-compete agreement is often signed along with a non-disclosure agreement, and this establish a specific time frame (6 months, 2 years, or another term) during which the employee or contractor may not engage in competing activities or work for a competitor. While in Kazakhstan, such an agreement (or relevant provisions in the employment contract or contractor agreement) might not be strictly enforced and may only have a psychological effect on former employees, in other countries such as the USA for instance, these contracts are in fact legally binding in most states. Therefore, when signing a contract with a US investor, verify whether it includes the NCA provisions. 

Tip # 2. Rights 

Intellectual property refers to intangible property that arises from the intellect, imagination, and creativity of the “creator-author”, who seeks legal protection of his or her ideas or creation. When an author works under an employment contract and the parties have not agreed otherwise, all exclusive rights, except the author’s personal rights, by default are owned by the employer. 

At the same time, if parties other than the company’s employees are involved in the development, care must be taken so that proper intellectual property formalities are upheld. This is especially true when employees of multiple organizations are involved in the same development.

Tip # 3. Arrangements must be executed in writing 

When disclosing information to any third party, whether it is a potential investor, partner, employee of another company, have them sign a written agreement on non-disclosure of confidential information. Be sure to sign it in advance, not after you disclose sensitive information. After all, any information or idea can inspire others to try and recreate or copy the technology that you have already invented.

In the nondisclosure agreement clearly specify what information you consider protected against unauthorized disclosure, and in which cases the party receiving such information may disclose it to third parties. Write in the contract the intentions of each party. Make sure the contract clearly identifies the person(s) you are negotiating with. 


Tip # 4. Define an intellectual property protection strategy 

Patenting is not the only possible way to protect the outcomes of intellectual activity. For example, you might also protect a technology by making it difficult for your competitors to reverse engineer, perhaps by keeping the production regime (know-how) secret. 


Tip # 5. Register your trademark (logo) in the Republic of Kazakhstan and abroad 

Any startup should have a name that will distinguish it from others. 

Even in the early days it is desirable to have a logo that visually identifies your startup, and that over time this logo might help you gain brand recognition in the market. 

But you need to be careful because you can develop a logo and spend a lot of money on the production of necessary attributes, etc. and afterwards a third party may step in and say that you cannot use the logo because it is a registered trademark. 

In this regard, theoretically there will be two options: 

“Pessimistic” – you will be banned from using it and forced to get rid of or even physically destroy all products with the logo. 

“Optimistic” – you will be allowed to use the logo, but you will have to pay to use it. When and how much will be decided by the parties through negotiations. 

To avoid the above scenarios, before you design the logo be sure to: 

- check, whether there is a confusingly similar TM registered (pending). 

- apply for registration in all countries of interest to you. After you find that there are no pending registrations, then you must first register the TM in the Republic of Kazakhstan, and only thereafter apply for registration in other jurisdictions abroad. 

- When applying for registration of a trademark, you need to think strategically ahead about the not only current protections, but any future protections you might need. It is important to bear in mind that the scope of protection of a trademark is defined by the image and list of goods and services for which the trademark is being registered. 

- In addition, each jurisdiction has its own peculiarities of TM registration. For example, before applying in the United States, one must have begun using the TM or file a Declaration of Intention to Use the TM. And in the UAE, one can not register a trademark for alcoholic beverages or pork. 

- International treaties, including those ratified by the Republic of Kazakhstan, will permit startupers to take advantage of simplified application opportunities. For example, the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks and the Protocol – allows for a single application to be submitted that specifies one or multiple countries, but this applies to only countries party to these Treaties. The application is to be submitted in one language and the fee is paid in one currency — Swiss francs.

Tip # 6. Patent where it is necessary 

It is necessary to determine in advance the countries you are interested in, since the patent has a territorial effect. 

There is something called a provisional application for patent, but unfortunately, it is only currently available and protected by law in the United States The idea of a provisional application is that it can give you interim protection in the United States for up to one year, while you negotiate with investors. You can submit a provisional application for a patent in the United States, with a filing fee ranging from $ 65 to $ 260. In this case. The “priority date” is that of the filing of the provisional application and is valid for 12 months. 

Another option is to file the main application in one of the jurisdictions and declare priority on it within 12 months from the date of filing the application. For example, you can file an application in the Patent Office of the Republic of Kazakhstan, conduct negotiations and within a year apply for a Eurasian patent, US patent, EU patent, and other patents of other jurisdictions. 

Or, on the basis of the national application (or apart of it) file an international application provided under the international Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). This Treaty provides for the possibility of filing one international application and the establishment of a so-called “reservation of time” to apply in other jurisdictions within 30 (or 31, depending on the particular jurisdiction) months from the date of filing of the first national application. This will allow you to secure patent protection for your product or technology at a relatively low cost. And allows you to secure effective protection around the world for 2.5 years. 


Tip # 7. Never violate the rights of others 

Besides ensuring that your IP is protected, it is equally essential that you do not violate the rights of third parties when you launch a product. You need to ensure that your product (whether software or hardware) does not violate any one of the hundreds of patents held by others. 

To avoid such problems, before the start of the project it is necessary to conduct a patent clearance search, which western experts call a Freedom to Operate (FTO) search. 

What a startuper should know about FTO:

- Clarify the status of the patent. A patent must be maintained on a annual basis, and if it is not renewed and can not be restored, the patented technology can be used without violating the rights of third parties. 

- Given that the patent has territorial effect, a patent for a product in the United States does not prohibit its use by third parties in other jurisdictions. Therefore, it is important to select the right list of countries where you want to obtain protection. You need to pay careful attention to the names of nations and the scope of protection given to each country, because it may be more confusing and limiting than you think. For example, pay attention to how Taiwan is in the list, it is also called the Republic of China. Whereas the patent for mainland China, or the People’s Republic of China – does not grant exclusive rights to administrative districts of Hong Kong and Macau. And applications filed for patents in France do not apply to French Polynesia. 

- The search should be carried out not only for the product as a whole, but also for its components. For example, your objective is to launch a new smartphone. In FTO, a search is conducted on the applications and issued patents not only for smartphones but also on their components – processor, memory, wifi modules, etc. 

- Determine the scope of protection. The scope of protection of the invention is determined by the patent claims. Accordingly, the violation of rights is the use of all the features of an independent claim. For example, if a patented device consists of components A, B, C and D, and your device consists only of A, B and C, this will not be considered a violation of rights. 

- If the FTO finds that you cannot launch your product, you should not lose all hope because there are still some possible resolutions. , You may contact the patent holder and propose to buy it, get a license to use the product, and, if you fail to come to an agreement, find options for contesting the patent. 

Remember that any intellectual property protection must be consistent and reasonable. Good luck in your endeavors!