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Opportunities for young developers in the development of future technologies: which areas of innovation have the greatest potential?

Already on May 26 Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) young scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs will meet at the KTU "Technorama 2022" exhibition. More than 160 talents will present their ideas at the physical exhibition, communicate with investors and fill the "Santakos" valley of KTU with discussions about future innovations.

Innovative ideas are often born when society is faced with various problems. This encourages innovators to experiment and look for effective solutions. It was the pandemic period that led to extremely positive changes in the innovation ecosystem, where the fields of health, digital solutions, defense and food stood out.

The Deputy Minister of National Defense of the Republic of Lithuania, Kaunas University of Technology researchers and business representatives share their insights on trends and identifiable changes in these areas.

Security and Defense Sector: It's more than armor and weapons

With the rapid development of technologies, the role of innovation is very significant in the country's security strategies. The country's resistance to various attacks and threats depends on its technological development, so today both defense and conflict prevention areas are increasingly developed taking into account the use of technology.

According to Vilias Semeška, Deputy Minister of National Defense of the Republic of Lithuania, the agendas of NATO and the European Union, as well as the Lithuanian National Security Strategy, emphasize the importance of defense innovations, scientific research, and especially the development of breakthrough technologies and their relevance in creating defense capabilities.

Countries that successfully develop and create innovations gain a technological advantage and set standards in the world market. 

"Technologies such as artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, space technology or supersonic weapons are currently receiving a lot of attention in the market. There is also a growing focus on "dual-use" technologies that have both civilian and military applications. New technologies are transforming the security and defense sectors faster than ever before, erasing the dividing line between the civilian and military spheres", observes Deputy Minister of National Defense V. Semeška.

The challenge for food technologists: frequently changing consumer behavior and global trends 

As production trends, consumer behavior, product prices and many other factors change, there is a need to develop new products. This is one of the main challenges food technologists face during the creative process.

Based on current consumer behavior, consumers are increasingly choosing organic and more natural products. After choosing the KTU study program "Food technologies and innovations ", students are encouraged and taught to create new products, work creatively and search for alternative food products.

"The biggest challenge for students is to create a product that is palatable to the consumer, that is, it meets the needs of consumers' receptors. It all starts with finding ideas and analyzing what consumers like, what they buy. Then a prototype of the product is created, various technological parameters are collected", says the head of the KTU Department of Food Science and Technology Assoc. Dr. Loreta Bašinskiene.

According to her, the viability of a manufacturing food industry company in the market is determined not only by the creation of new products, but also by their nutritional and sensory properties. 

L. Bašinskienė assures that, taking into account the development of consumer needs, it is likely that functional products will have the greatest commercial potential in the future. This trend of food products was especially highlighted during the pandemic period, when consumers chose food more responsibly, evaluating their nutritional properties and benefits. 

Meanwhile, from the producers' perspective, sustainability and nature protection are becoming an increasingly relevant factor. Manufacturers are constantly looking for alternative protein sources, changing traditional proteins to insect or algae origin. In addition, the search for non-traditional components of food products through the processing of secondary raw materials is becoming more prominent.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a more favorable view of digital healthcare

The pandemic period was extremely difficult and full of challenges for the health sector. In addition to intensive care of patients infected with the virus, and later vaccination, the organization of personal health care services and their availability has become a sensitive issue. It is noticeable that the decrease in physical contact has led to a greater turn to technological innovations in health care.

According to KTU Institute of Biomedical Engineering researcher and lecturer of the Faculty of Electricity and Electronics Assoc. Dr. Darius Jegelevičius, due to the impact of the pandemic, the next decade should be characterized by a more intensive development of electronic services - various preventive health check-up programs, personal remote or virtual assistance and automation tools for medical signals, images, data analysis, which will help to communicate more flexibly with patients and make it easier for doctors to analyze medical data and interpretation. 

"Decreased physical activity and bad habits will encourage the health sector to look for innovations that would help society change their lifestyle," says D. Jegelevičius. 

Although a successful decade is expected, active progress requires the involvement of young developers.

"Fundamental knowledge accumulated by experienced researchers and the flexibility of young minds (sometimes even ignorance of physical limits) is a perfect combination for generating and testing new progressive ideas," assures D. Jegelevičius.

The health technology niche is not favorable in terms of speed of bringing the final product to market and generating profit. For this reason, not only in Lithuania, but also in Europe, the number of startups operating in the health sector is not growing rapidly.

As an example, D. Jegelevičius gives products for diagnostics: "If the product is intended for diagnostics, careful biomedical research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of the technology and at the same time convince the community of healthcare specialists of the effectiveness of the product. Such research and technology development requires long-term funding and the tenacity of the development team."

According to a researcher at the KTU Institute of Biomedical Engineering, the field of health technology may not be very grateful to young developers who want a quick result, but you always need to try, try to create, improve and believe in your idea. 

The golden age of the computer game industry 

The last decade has been a golden age for the computer games industry, and the prevailing pandemic has contributed to the extremely rapid growth of this industry, with more and more people spending their free time in the digital space.

"Both in Lithuania and in the world, the gaming market is one of the most successful areas, able to attract and grow professionals in its field, successfully surpassing other branches of the entertainment industry. In order to better imagine the potential and size of this market, let's look at the 2020s, when the game industry surpassed the film and music industries combined," says Kotryna Rimaitė, Head of Human Resources at TutoTOONS. 

TutoTOONS creative director Modestas Povilaitis assures that the game industry is extremely open to various ideas, and for those who do not know how and where to start creating a game, he offers to use the Internet for help - it can be the most effective helper. 

"There is a lot of information and communities of game developers on the Internet, where it is easy to find like-minded people and find answers to technical problems," says M. Povilaitis. 

"Technorama" - a traditional exhibition - competition, has been gathering innovators - students, representatives of science and new technology enthusiasts - in one place for more than two decades. May 26 of this year. the physical exhibition "Technorama 2022" will take place in KTU "Santakos" valley. The organizers of the event will invite those who did not have time to visit the physical exhibition to take a walk around the virtual exhibition, which will be open until next year's exhibition event. 

"We are waiting for young developers developing ideas in the fields of engineering, food, health, environment, digital solutions, mobility, defense, inclusive and creative society," says Tomas Proscevičius, one of the organizers of the event, Head of Entrepreneurship Development Projects at KTU "Startup Space". 

The event is organized by KTU Startup Space. Registration of participants takes place until May 9. More information about the event and participation in it - The information partner of Technorama 2022 is the news portal

Diffusion of information technologies in Lithuania: analysis of trends

As every year, the trends in the development of information technology were reviewed at the World Economic Forum in Geneva this year. It didn't take long for Lithuanian media to receive reviews praising Lithuania, such as "Lithuania ranked 42nd among 138 countries, surpassing many neighboring countries". A cursory look at these results can mislead us and lead us to make wrong decisions. Let's try to look deeper.

As every year, the trends in the development of information technology were reviewed at the World Economic Forum in Geneva this year. It didn't take long for Lithuanian media to receive reviews praising Lithuania, such as "Lithuania ranked 42nd among 138 countries, surpassing many neighboring countries". A cursory look at these results can mislead us and lead us to make wrong decisions. Let's try to look deeper.

After hearing the news about Lithuania's high rating, the question arises - how important is it for the state itself and its people? The 2010 World Economic Forum report presents trends in the growth of information technology (IT) influence in society. This report states that the public imagines that IT should rank 4th in importance (21 percent), just 1 percent behind third place (utilities): health care leads, followed by agriculture. Society believes that information technology is very important to it. But that's just her opinion. What is the real impact of IT on the economy? The share of IT in the world's gross domestic product (GDP) was 5 percent in 2003, while in 2008 it was already 5.4 percent. In The Climate Group's SMART 2020 report: Enabling the low carbon economy in the information age" predicts that in 2020 the share of IT in GDP will be 8.7 percent. Business should respond to this forecast by scientists - it is a niche where you can expand your activities. In Lithuania, the share of IT in GDP has been presented by the statistics department in the publication "Information technologies in Lithuania 2010".

This table eloquently shows that the share of IT in the gross domestic product in Lithuania does not have a stable growth trend, not to mention the fact that we have not even reached the value of the global indicator of 5.4 percent of GDP in 2008. The change in 2008 - 2009 is positive and gives hope that growth trends will emerge. The business should appreciate that the composition of the gross domestic product is changing - the IT component is increasing. Therefore, not only large, but also small and medium-sized businesses must be vigilant - in order to maintain competitiveness, the factors influencing business, which are not directly related to the spread of IT, must also be made more efficient by IT means. Thus, according to its share in the gross domestic product (about 5-6 percent), IT is not particularly important, although such an assessment is not entirely correct,

The state's achievements in the field of information technology are measured by the IT diffusion index ("ICT Networked Readiness Index"). The structure of the index has been stable only since 2002. IT Diffusion Index (ITSI) covers IT environment, preparation, use. It is calculated from 36 survey criteria (57% of data) and 29 indicators - official data (43% of data). The data presented in the charts are systematized by the author using the annual "Global Information Technology Report" reports.

We will analyze the change trends of ITSI and its components based on the annual Global Information Technology Report presented at the World Economic Forum.

The change in the location of the countries' IT diffusion index presented in this chart shows that the places of the leading countries Singapore, Sweden and the USA change slightly, we could not distinguish any trend. These countries are constantly paying the necessary attention to the spread of IT. Meanwhile, the dynamics of places in the Baltic states is a little different. The jumps in the curves of the diagram indicate that the focus in the Baltic states on the use of information technology was uneven. However, since 2007, the dynamics of changes in all three states have been similar, which allows us to assume that the attention to IT development was similar. Estonia has not lost its leadership position in the Baltic region for the entire nine-year period. The period from 2008, when the places of all three states start to grow, is notable. The deterioration of IT diffusion is beginning to be observed. The only positive thing is that that the growth trend of places decreased in 2010 should give optimism. The places of the IT distribution index say something else - they are growing, albeit slowly! This shows that the situation of Lithuania and other Baltic "sessions" in IT diffusion is getting worse.

General trends do not distinguish problem areas, since the IT dispersion index consists of as many as 9 components (see the figure above). When analyzing the data, it is necessary to take into account that this is a relative assessment: the value of the component of the state index is compared with the indicators of other states. This determines the location of the country index component. The overall place of the state is calculated from 9 components. If there were only two indicators, one of which would take the 99th place and the other the first, then the overall 50th place would not show the real situation. In order to find out the real situation, it is necessary to analyze the values ​​of individual index components and their dynamics.

Looking at changes in Lithuania's places according to ITSI's component Environment , we observe that in 2009 there was a turning point in infrastructure, politics and management, that is, from a negative trend (increase in places) to a decrease in places (positive trend). This is a rather happy direction. However, the negative trend is growing in the trade sector! How could these indicators be improved? To that end, let's break down the overall subindex location to specific metric values. ITSI components Policy and management one of the sub-indexes is the government's priority to IT, ie giving priority to information and communication technologies (1 - very weak priority, 7 - high). In 2009-2010, the average values ​​of this sub-index are presented in the table below (the number in front of the state indicates its position according to this sub-index).

The results of this table can please Estonia (14th place), but Lithuania's 76th place really shows that the government should provide measures to correct this situation. We are next to Russia according to this indicator. The conclusions are really not good. For the sake of objectivity, it is necessary to evaluate the "tragic" situation of Latvia - 107th place. The government of this country should really worry about priorities, because as discussed earlier, the weight of IT in the GDP structure is growing.

Another important sub-index assesses government IT foresight, ie whether governments have a clear implementation plan using information and communication technologies to improve the country's overall competitiveness (1 - no plan; 7 - clear plan). In 2009-2010, the average values ​​of this sub-index are presented in the table below (the number in front of the state indicates its position according to this sub-index).

According to the vision of the perspective of information technologies, Estonia again leads among the Baltic "sessions", whose index value of 4.96 (out of 7 possible) shows that the result in this area is sufficient. Meanwhile, Lithuania's place with an index value of 3.86 next to a country like Bangladesh should be reassuring. Once again, we have to state the unenviable position of Latvia - only 113th place, although the index is not so different from Lithuania (0.58). Meanwhile, Estonia is quite significantly far from Lithuania - the index difference is 1.10.

We can conclude that the empty trend in politics and management is encouraging, but the real situation in the vision and use of government IT perspective requires fundamental changes. The Ministry of Economy, which is responsible for the IT sector, really faces big challenges - how to get closer to the world's leading countries? Another task is how to improve the negative trend of the Trade sub-index. The parameters of this factor require a separate study, as the situation worsens year by year.

Analyzing the changes in Lithuania's places according to the ITSI component Readiness , we observe that the turning point of the negative trend in individual and government IT readiness is the year 2009. The trend is encouraging, although the places between 60 and 80 are not so high. The trend of business readiness places is not positive yet: a stable deterioration is observed. If we add the bad state of the IT environment in the trade sector, the conclusion would appear by itself: the problematic situation is in the trade business.

You wouldn't see a bad IT situation when you're handing out salespeople's brochures. However, this is only an illusion created for the user. The actual situation (compared to other countries) should certainly be reassuring.

Summarizing the above data, it can be said that the general situation in Lithuania is not good and encouraging, although there are also areas where the spread of information technologies gives hope. With this article, we would like to draw the attention of persons who can make decisions related to information technologies to the current situation and trends. Knowing the situation and trends creates the prerequisites for making the right decisions.

A completely different situation is observed according to the ITSI component Use . The use of IT in business is growing. However, there are indicators that indicate problem areas. One of these is the innovation size indicator (presented in the table below). It describes how companies acquire new technology (1 - only from licensing or from foreign companies; 7 - through official research and implementation of their own innovative new products and processes). 2009-2010 the weighted average was (the number before the country indicates its position in this sub-index):

In this table, the Lithuanian indicator 3.34 (out of a possible 7) "speaks" for itself - "own" innovations are used rather weakly in the IT field: that is, companies do not try to invest in the process of creating innovations, in most cases they use innovations created by others. Such a path programs a constant lag - in order to overtake, you need to create something newer and more perfect yourself.

Analyzing the use of IT in the private sector and government structures, we observe a slight downward trend. In the parameters describing the use of IT in the government structure, one would like to highlight the index of government "omline" services (evaluates the availability of services).

The existing values ​​of the indicator are really encouraging - we are only slightly behind Estonia. This is one of the indicators we can be proud of. Another proof that you can't take one indicator and be happy with it (or vice versa). You need to see the overall picture, only seeing it allows you to correctly predict tasks for the perspective.

Let's look at the given data from another perspective - what is the relationship between ITSI components Preparation and Use ? This data juxtaposition should illustrate how effectively the existing structure is being used. For the sake of objectivity, we have to admit that such a comparison does not assess all the factors that influenced the state's place according to a separate criterion. Disadvantages are due to uneven levels of preparedness and utilization among states. Generally speaking, the indicators of other countries also change, which is why Lithuania's place may change not only due to the processes taking place in our country. Therefore, this comparison should be viewed as a trend picker.

When comparing individual IT usage and readiness (see chart below) "the ace comes out of the bag". The gap between readiness and use in individual IT use has been increasing since 2008. Currently, it is disproportionately large - thirty-one places. In 2009, there was a difference of 32 places. Reduction - one place, is it already a trend? Kazin If this trend were to continue, we would have to wait 30 years before the possibilities became equal to use. It should also be noted that the difference may decrease if usage worsens (which has been observed for the past three years). On the other hand, attention should be paid to the very low level of preparation - 65th place, while utilization - 34th place. We see that usage clearly outpaces readiness.

A different situation is observed in business. Here, the ratio between readiness and use fluctuates within normal limits. The existing difference of 24 seats in 2010 (10 seats in 2009) should be reassuring - the gap is starting to increase. As with individual IT use, business use outpaces readiness. It goes without saying that it is not good. On the other hand, the existence of such a trend illustrates business prospects. The business need to use IT is high enough, which makes it possible to develop a structure that ensures its use.

Similar to the comparison of individual IT use and readiness, as well as the comparison of government institutions' readiness and use, this difference starts to grow since 2007. An unnatural situation has arisen - Preparation in 2010 was 43 places behind Use . For the sake of objectivity, it should be mentioned that in 2009 this difference was as high as 54. Is this already a downward trend? Probably not. This decrease was due to the worsening use of IT in the public sector - from 31st place in 2009 to 39th place in 2010. On the one hand , the Preparedness seems to be improving, which shows that the decisions made to improve the accessibility of government are correct. On the other hand - real Use getting worse Again, the task for the clerks of the Ministry of Economy is to analyze the components of the indices and provide measures that would create conditions for a wider use of IT in government structures.

Summarizing the above data, it can be said that the general situation in Lithuania is not good and encouraging, although there are areas where the spread of information technologies gives hope. This article would like to draw attention to the fact that knowledge of the current situation and trends is a prerequisite for making the right decisions.