On 10 September, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Evaldas Ignatavičius welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (VGTU) and the U.S. University of Houston.
“Today, the two universities, which are definitely ranking among the best in their respective countries, made a step towards a close partnership. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs regards this as very good news, because ‘brain gain’ for the country and its partners is one of the strategic targets of Lithuania’s economic diplomacy and of the MFA, followed also by the promotion of academic cooperation through joint study programmes, knowledge exchange, human resources movement and creation of conditions for key partnerships of this century - the science and business partnerships,” Ignatavičius said.
As a specific example of such partnership, the Vice-Minister mentioned the visit to Lithuania of students in the Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) programme of the University of Houston, which is due already in the spring of next year.
Rector of VGTU Alfonsas Daniūnas and Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer of the University of Houston Rathindra Bose signed the Memorandum of Understanding at the Senate Hall at VGTU.
Ignatavičius said that professors of the University of Houston would attend the Life Sciences Baltics Forum 2012 in Vilnius on September 12-14. The Forum presents the most progressive branches of science in the Baltic region so thoroughly for the first time ever.
Representatives of the Universities thanked the MFA for its active and continuous support of the partnership between these academic institutions. According to Ignatavičius, the MFA and, especially, the Lithuanian Embassy in the U.S., have made deliberate efforts to strengthen this cooperation.
“We are glad that William C. Altman, the Lithuanian Honorary Consul in Houston, and the active Lithuanian community in Houston are contributing to our efforts. A joint effort of diplomats, honorary consuls and greatest Lithuanian minds both in the homeland and in foreign countries is also the basis for other successful projects,” Ignatavičius said.
The Vice-Minister also wished the Lithuanian and U.S. Universities to succeed in bringing together a “dream team” of researchers, like professional basketball players do.
In recent years, the city of Houston and its scientific institutions have been designated as the fastest-growing scientific and business centres in the U.S. The U.S. energy companies located there also dedicate a lot of attention to research institutions in Houston. Lithuania has established close ties with some of them.
The Lithuanian Embassy in Washington, D.C., aims to present the country’s scientific potential in the United States, to initiate group visits of the U.S. researchers and senior students to Lithuania, and to introduce to them Lithuanian universities, innovative businesses and Science Valleys.
The Lithuanian diplomatic service has adapted to the new challenges of international cooperation and is increasingly becoming more oriented towards academic cooperation. The Memorandum of Understanding, signed between the VGTU and the University of Houston, as well as the active participation of the U.S. universities and the U.S. companies that offer research services related to the healthcare industry in the first Conference “Life Sciences Baltics 2012” in Vilnius, are best examples of the Lithuanian diplomats’ creative activities and results.