20th anniversary of the concept of Russian Federation State Research Centers
On November 20, 2013 All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Aviation Materials (VIAM) hosted Russian Federation State Research Centers: 20 Years in Innovation Development Conference, which was dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Russian President’s Decree on State Research Centers of the Russian Federation.
Heads of state research centers and representatives of executive and legislative authorities and the scientific community discussed prospects and ways of strengthening cooperation to enhance innovation development of Russia, spoke about modern Russian scientific researches, summarized the results of work of NAUKA Association of State Research Centers, and determined prospects for future activities of the Association.
The conference was opened by RAS Member Evgeny N. Kablov, Chairman of the Council, President of the Association of State Research Centers of the Russian Federation, General Director of VIAM.
In his speech, Evgeny Kablov noted that the resolution of 1993 on the creation of state research centers had been one of the major governmental resolutions in the sphere of research engineering in the contemporary history of Russia. “This step was dictated by the need for targeted state support aimed to preserve and develop the scientific and engineering potential of major world-class research centers”, emphasized Evgeny Kablov.
Currently, research and development projects performed by the state research centers of the Russian Federation are being implemented within nearly 30 targeted programs. “An important feature of the Russian state research centers is the inter-agency nature of their research and development projects, which thus simultaneously serve the purposes of many industries in the defense sector and in the civil sector of the economy”, he reported.
According to Mr. Kablov, the synergy of fundamental and applied research and development allows to implement, in actual practice, interaction between science and industry. “Today, it is the state research centers that hold the leading position in the sphere of applied research and development aimed to solve major state problems; this is confirmed by active participation of the state research centers in innovative state-level projects”, remarked Evgeny Kablov. “It should also be noted that the state research centers of the Russian Federation actively cooperate with institutes of the RAS and other state academies of sciences, and ensure a continuous training cycle for high qualification specialists, including training based on integration with the academic and university science”, he stressed.
Evgeny Kablov also remarked that the state support for the state research centers consisted in something more than just financial assistance. According to Evgeny Kablov, the tax relief in respect of the property of such centers and the regionally adopted exemption from payment for land plots used for research or scientific engineering activities (or reduction of such payment) are also of great help. “A prohibition to carry out the privatization of state research centers was included in regulatory documents; later, such centers were put on the list of strategic organizations. These resolutions contributed to the creation of incentive conditions for preservation and development of the research, technological and experimental base in major scientific centers, which take part in handling the issues of Russia’s defense and security”, said Mr. Kablov.
Evgeny Kablov reported that according to the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation on establishing a national system for assessment of activities of research and scientific organizations, the state research centers were subjected to integrated inter-agency checks every two years. “This is done to assess the actual contribution of each research organization to the process of solving top-priority problems”, he remarked. “Such system contributes to the strengthening of Russian science, which must become the leading institute of development for the domestic economy”.
Speaking about the Association of State Research Centers, its President noted that it was “a unique public organization that played a key role in the development of the system of state research centers”. “The Association takes a most active part in the discussion and preparation of various solutions to improve the research engineering through cooperation with legislative and executive authorities”, he stressed.
In his speech, Evgeny Kablov made several specific suggestions for the development of the concept of state research centers. “A pre-requisite for development of innovations is the existence of a regulatory framework governing the scientific and engineering activities”, he said. “In particular, what we need is a statutory clarification of the notion of a ‘research’ or ‘scientific’ organization, taking into account peculiarities of functioning of such organizations and specific features of their activities; also, an approved state register of scientific organizations is required”. Besides, according to Evgeny Kablov, “a performance program was established for each state research center by the respective resolution of the Government Commission for High Technologies and Innovations. The Program provides for additional predictive/analytical functions in one or more technologies, and for performance of expert-evaluative and coordinating activities. Therefore, appropriate directive documents need to be issued by the Government, ministries, and agencies to reflect such activities in the Articles of Association of state research centers”.
Another suggestion by the President of the Association of State Research Centers dealt with the creation of a national system for objective evaluation of scientific organizations. “Practical research results, discoveries, and patents, rather than bibliometric data, should be deemed primary criteria for evaluating the performance. Bibliometric evaluation is an important and necessary process; however, we should intensively develop the national network of scientific publications rather than be focused on Western abstract databases”, he stressed.
Speaking about improvement of the system of state research centers, Evgeny Kablov also touched upon the issue of training research and engineering personnel. “State research centers might play a key role in handling this task through cooperation with higher-education institutions and research universities”, he said. “But here we need appropriate solutions empowering state research centers to carry out educational activities”.
Summarizing his speech, Evgeny Kablov declared that “the system of state research centers is an essential component of the national innovation system in the sphere of knowledge generation, conversion of such knowledge into a high-tech product, and training research and engineering personnel”.