Following the plenary meeting, the President visited an exhibition of innovative developments.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, colleagues,
It is hard to speak after Mr Drexler, who is such a legend, and I will probably have to make a few adjustments to my speech now, given what has already been said.
You have just heard a lot of figures about the good situation here with innovation and nanotechnology. I also intended to give some of these figures, but with your permission I will leave some of them out now. Actually, these figures genuinely do impress me and I think they are good results, because just a few years ago we could not have imagined that we would reach such a point.
”We hope that the product of all of this work will make the lives of everyone, the lives of our people here in Russia, more comfortable, safer, and quite simply more interesting.“
I wish a very warm welcome to everyone taking part in the international Rusnanotech forum, which is taking place now for the fourth time in Moscow. Scientists, entrepreneurs and experts from more than 50 countries are here today, including very famous names such as US scientist Eric Drexler. I also want to welcome today President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology Susan Hockfield and the many others who have come. Thank you all very much.
Judging by how the discussions have been going, you have been looking not only at how much money should be spent, but also at what needs to happen in the heads of those involved in this work. Money is very important no matter how we look at things, but I think that, for all the problems that crop up in any process, we in Russia are following the right road in our infrastructure approach, basing ourselves on a policy of public funding supplementing private business. This is probably exactly what is required to develop nanotechnology anywhere in the world, all the more so in a country like Russia.
I remind you that Rusnano’s share in the projects is less than 50% in all cases, with the rest coming from private investors. Rusnano’s job is not just to give the projects the initial impetus they need to take off and develop, but also to fulfil its principle mission – withdrawing at the right moment and letting the project live its own life. This is the manifesto for Rusnano’s activities. The corporation’s work is based on the principle that it will depart once the developments it has been supporting establish their niche on the market.
Nanotechnology development and indeed any modernisation, any innovative creation, are not a cheap business and always carry risks. We therefore very much want to see the international cooperation that has taken shape over these last years continue, and hope that the product of all of this work will make the lives of everyone, the lives of our people here in Russia, more comfortable, safer, and quite simply more interesting, for variety and interest are also an important part of life.
I am very pleased to see that this big innovation forum has become a good platform too for reaching and signing agreements.
I am not sure exactly which figures were quoted so far, and so I will not give many figures now. Expanding funding programmes for fundamental research remains one of our top priorities, and we plan to invest considerable sums in modernising and upgrading equipment at our universities, research centres and laboratories, and encouraging the development of new programmes. We have allocated almost $8 billion in the budget for these purposes through to 2014.
We have various funds. They were probably already mentioned today, and so I will not go into detail. What is important is that all of this continues to receive support of the banking infrastructure too and has decent market prospects. In this respect, I think that the Bank for Development [Vnesheconombank], which has a credit portfolio for investments of $10.5 billion now, is fulfilling the right mission. We should keep moving in this direction.
I was reading the newspapers on my way here and came across the following assertion: ‘We are about to have all manner of elections here, and so all of the modernisation projects have come to a halt and the only thing going on now is the negative PR that all political forces carry out; modernisation is no longer trendy because it does not bring any real political dividends’. Let me say that I completely disagree.
”Expanding funding programmes for fundamental research remains one of our top priorities, and we plan to invest considerable sums in modernising and upgrading equipment at our universities, research centres and laboratories.“
First, modernisation is still the fashion, and it can indeed bring political dividends.
Second, we are not halting any projects but, on the contrary, will continue to increase funding for all of our modernisation priorities, including the innovation projects of course, and the nanotechnology that you are discussing here. I want you all to know this.
Russia’s development institutions will continue to help resolve the problems that exist of course, clearing up the market failures that can inevitably occur and that cannot always be resolved using market mechanisms alone. Such is the specific nature of activity in this area. But these institutions are not a substitute for private business and are not in competition with private financial institutions. Their job is to act as catalysts for private investment in priority high-technology fields.
If I rightly understood what Sergei [Brilyov] said just now, you were discussing how to change scientists’ thinking. This is very important because scientists are very talented people of course, but usually concentrate their attention on solving specific problems, whereas doing business requires a somewhat broader horizon. But I hope that just as scientists start to develop their business thinking, so businesspeople will start developing their scientific thinking, because this is just as important, and it is also a complex process, especially in a country like ours.
Let me remind you that 10–12 years ago, say, talk of innovative business projects in Russia only ever drew doubting smiles, because no one believed they could possibly have any future here. The big task then was simply surviving, and any money available was invested either in production, or simply spent on one’s own self.
”We are not halting any projects but, on the contrary, will continue to increase funding for all of our modernisation priorities, including the innovation projects of course, and the nanotechnology.“
Only recently did innovation become a topical issue, and I think that this was largely the result of a change in the way the majority of businesspeople look at life. I am talking about Russian, not foreign businesspeople, who have long since got their thinking in order in this respect, but our businesspeople have only recently started to rethink their mission in business, and I think this is very important.
In any event, the development institutions and the economic mechanisms I mentioned will play a big part, a decisive part, in Russia’s Innovative Development Strategy through to 2020. The state authorities will continue to keep control in this area, but with the understanding of their part and their mission in this process. As I said, the main thing for the state authorities in this area is to make clear decisions on when to withdraw and let private business calmly and comfortably continue the work on its own.
Once more, I thank you all very much for your work. It was a great pleasure to meet with you.