President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, friends.
Today we are holding a joint meeting of the State Council and the Council for Science and Education. It is being attended by the heads of regions and political parties, representatives of our science and research community, members of the Government and the Security Council.
This expanded meeting is held on the occasion of the end of the Year of Science and Technology. We will sum up the results and discuss our joint plans for the further development of science in general and of scientific education, taking into account the huge attention given to the achievements of our scientists by our society and citizens.
Of course, we also need to consider the growing public demand for modernisation of our cities and all other residential areas based on the latest technological and environmental standards and the comprehensive use of cutting-edge scientific research achievements in everyday life.
In this context, one more important issue on our agenda – further steps to build up the innovation potential of Russian regions as a key condition of wellbeing and a high quality of life for people across our vast country.
This is not just about creating new knowledge and technology. Again, it is extremely important to use these directly in practical terms in healthcare and education, on transport and utility infrastructure, in resolving environmental, social and other socially important tasks.
I will say again that Russia and our regions can only develop together with science. This is why for two decades we have consistently tried to expand the scientific geography of the country, focusing on the formation of advanced research infrastructure and the strengthening of universities in the regions. As a result, the number of universities engaged in research has increased almost three-fold.
Research and backbone universities in the regions of the Federation have become real flagships for whole territories.
Joint objectives are already uniting research universities, institutes and companies from different regions of Russia. We will certainly encourage such cooperation in the future as well, because our enormous country badly needs distributed scientific development, as we have said many times. Not some individual centres located in just a few areas but a truly integral space covering the entire country– as Academician Vernadsky used to say, an area of scientific pursuit, creative solutions, education, support and encouragement of the talents of advanced technical business. This is the approach that lies at the foundation of research and educational centres in the world and is vital for implementing federal programmes on genetics and agriculture.
I know that important and innovative projects of national significance will receive a broad regional dimension. They will be aimed at resolving medical and pharmaceutical goals, as well as problems related to climate change and development of new energy sources.
What do I consider extremely important? We can set ambitious research goals because we have created strong personnel potential and will certainly develop and strengthen it. In this context, I would like to tell you about the new plans that were prepared after our meeting with young scientists at Sirius in early December.
First, the mega grants programme will continue. We will rearrange the requirements to enable prominent scientists to create strong international research teams here in Russia which will attract not only young researchers from within the country, but also our compatriots and foreign specialists. In fact, this is already the case, and I hope that this will carry on in the future. Of course, the mission of these world-class laboratories is to expand and reinforce opportunities across the country. They will be created in universities and research centres in the Volga Region, in Siberia, in Russia’s Far East, its central and southern parts, and of course in the northern regions of our country.
By the way, biologists, experts in environment protection and other fields, including climate change, are currently working in Russia’s Arctic territories, in the challenging environment of the Extreme North. Of course, we must support these researchers, including paying them the so-called northern bonuses in full, not later, in many years, but here and now, the very first month they start working there. This was also among the requests I heard during a meeting with our colleagues at the Sirius centre. Let me note that for most locations in Russia’s Extreme North, these bonuses amount to about 80 percent of wages. This is a substantial increase for a researcher, considering that, as you know, scientists must be paid at the level of 200 percent of the average wage in the region.
I would like to make a special point on youth support. Thanks to the Russian Science Foundation, we already have a comprehensive programme for allocating grants to young researchers for undertaking various projects, from small studies to running research teams. I am certain that post-graduate students must also benefit from clear and unified incentives of this kind. Of course, I am referring to young researchers who are serious about science and achieve something, who already work for the benefit of their regions and are ready to implement their innovations there.
As for housing, during the meeting at Sirius, our colleagues also asked me to expand the housing certificate programme and make sure young researchers and university faculty members who achieve substantial results and succeed in their work are the first to get these certificates, regardless of how long they have been working and what ministry or agency the organisation that employs them reports to. The same principles must apply to apartments these people rent from their institutions. It is hard to argue with that, and I agree with this proposal – the Government must take all the necessary decisions in this regard quickly.
Our science is among the world’s youngest in terms of the researchers’ age, and its capacity is being strengthened at the institutions of higher learning and universities. Importantly, an increasing number of parents are supporting their children in their choice to pursue a scientific career. In our country, researchers under 40 account for 44.3 percent of academia. Almost two-thirds of the parents, two-thirds of adults in our country want to see their children choose a scientific career. These meaningful, positive and, I am sure, long-term trends must be supported.
At least 25 university campuses will be built in the 2020s. Importantly, they must be outfitted with advanced equipment for academic and research activities and with proper amenities for playing sports, launching start-ups and operating technology companies. These things need to be planned in advance before starting this large-scale work. This programme must be an example of joint work of the government, business, and constituent entities of the Federation aimed at creating a modern environment for young, talented people. This is the most important condition for advancing scientific research and technology in our regions.
Today, we will definitely discuss mechanisms and the best models for creating social and residential infrastructure and public spaces next to universities and research centres in the regions of the Federation with the involvement of development institutions.
In this regard, I would like to emphasise that the tools and the federal programmes that were mentioned today will pay off if and only if – and here I want to address heads of the constituent entities of the Federation – if you, colleagues, meaningfully engage in technological, scientific and educational development, and only if you see this area as a powerful resource and understand the importance of these matters for the people and for the fulfilment of young people in your respective regions and cities. So, please make sure to communicate closely with young researchers, students and even school research teams, provide them with weighty support, and create better opportunities for launching innovative projects that will become a magnet for talent from other regions and even other countries.
Of course, it is the Russian regions working with large companies, including state-owned companies, that should act as qualified consumers of knowledge and technology, especially since our fundamental groundwork allows businesses to create unique competitive solutions. In order to do this, we need to lift a number of remaining barriers that hinder cooperation between science and the regions, and to create conditions for businesses to invest more actively in technological development. So I would like to ask the members of the State Council and the Council for Science and Education as well as the Government to address these issues. You know what I mean. Nevertheless, let me repeat some things.
First, we have to help scientific and innovative teams get through the most difficult stage and do it efficiently, quickly, and effectively; this is the technology approbation stage in real life. Next we need to start implementing them in the city, at enterprises and institutions. I mean up-to-date regulatory control, including application of experimental legal regimes in the Russian regions. Of course, it is necessary to use the resources of our world-class scientific and education centres, which would include direct interaction between science and companies operating in the regions.
Second, we need to expand the Russian regions’ alternatives for supporting scientific and technology projects, assist regional scientific foundations that provide grants for research and development. Let me also note that the State Duma has adopted, in the first reading, a draft law that allows regional budgets to fund the work at federal institutions, such as universities and research organisations. I would like to draw the attention of my colleagues from the Government and from the parliament: regions with low fiscal capacity should also have this support. I understand the questions that arise in this context, but I still believe that this should be done even for the regions that receive subsidies, if they can justify their expenses accordingly. In general, I am asking you to resolve any existing disagreements as soon as possible and adopt the necessary amendments to the law.
Third, we need to create a base of Russian technology solutions that are already in use in the Russian regions and that have already proven their effectiveness; for example, a common digital platform of best practices would serve to ensure interaction between teams of entrepreneurs, scientists, and management teams all across Russia.
Finally, I consider it necessary to encourage those regions in the Federation that are working to increase their scientific and technological potential. The logic here is very understandable and simple. Additional support must be given to those territories that make breakthrough developments and launch major research, innovative and education projects. This means that researchers, entrepreneurs and engineers go there to implement the needed projects for developing these territories. I know that at a special seminar with experts from the Council for Science and Education the governors discussed in detail successful approaches and projects in this area and new steps on developing science and technology in the regions. Today, I would like to hear your proposals that, I hope, are a response to those debates.
One more point: starting next year, the events of the Congress of Young Scientists will take place all over the country, in different regions. Young scientists at Sirius asked me about this, in part, to enable our research teams to meet with their potential customers, that is, you, your colleagues from regional teams and business representatives. I know that you (I am talking to the regional governors again) will personally take part in these meetings. This is very important, and this is my request to you.
Before we move to speeches and discussions, I would like to turn again to the results of the Year of Science and Technology. I will repeat that the main, key result is a fundamentally new level of scientific education. Using advanced technology, tens of millions of people saw lectures by scientists and hours-long marathons of the revived Knowledge society. It is no exaggeration to say that public interest in science, its history and achievements is tremendous.
I think it would be appropriate to make the Year of Science and Technology the beginning of a decade that will further encourage the development of education in Russia. I am confident that all political and public entities will support this decision.
Of course, I hope for engaged participation from our regions in this work. First, I would like to ask you to help create centres for research volunteers, including at universities, and provide assistance in drafting education tour routes. I mean taking students and schoolchildren on expeditions and excursions to mega-science class installations, research centres, the Vostochny Cosmodrome and the like. All these are opportunities for young people to become familiar with the work of our scientists and Russian science and to continue its great history into the future. I have no doubt that this is how it will be.
Using this opportunity, I would like to once again thank our school students who won all international academic competitions in natural sciences this year – physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and informatics. Let’s wish new success to them together.
Vladimir Putin: First, I would like to thank everyone for your hard work this year. Second, I would like to ask the Government and the Presidential Executive Office to finalise the list of Presidential instructions based on the results of our joint work this year and, of course, with consideration for the proposals made at today’s meeting.
I looked carefully at some things while preparing for this meeting and now, during our discussion, I see some issues that require additional work (I will not torture anyone about it now) on taxation and additional funding. I understand the subtleties of these proposals, and we need to analyse them properly with the Finance Ministry. I would like to ask Mr Siluanov [Finance Minister] to approach this task with due consideration for the importance of the subject we discussed today.
I would like to congratulate you on the upcoming holidays. We will certainly continue this work in the future.
I talked about a decade, and this is what we should do. This is the road we will follow. But it is important to make sure this idea does not become trite, that it does not simply turn into a declaration that we will be involved with science for the next ten years. Science requires ongoing attention, whether we are talking about the past 100 years or 300 years or in the next decade, but we need to organise this effort in a way that will make it exciting. As my colleagues said it should be made interesting and attract young people. In principle, we are succeeding with this goal, and I have told you about the number of young researchers in our country. This number will grow, and the future of Russian science will certainly be guaranteed if we consistently implement the tasks that we have set.
In conclusion, I would like to address Mr Manturov. I think he knows that a salvo launch of the Tsircon hypersonic system was made this night, or more precisely, in the early morning hours. The Tsircon supersonic system is our latest missile that can hit sea- and ground-based targets. Yes, the test was successful, it was impeccable, and it is a great event in the life of our country and a big step towards increasing Russia’s security and enhancing its defence capability.
I would like to ask you to convey my best wishes and congratulations to the teams that worked on this advance, to thank them for the result. I want to express my most sincere words of gratitude to the developers, designers, engineers and workers, all those who were involved in this.
Thank you very much. All the best.
Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov: Thank you very much, Mr President.
This event took place at 5.30 am. I will convey your words to all of them. Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you everyone and all the best.