President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends.
As is customary, we are holding this council meeting on Russian Science Day which was established to commemorate the founding of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which turns 300 years today.
Before we get to work, I would like to wish a happy professional holiday to the council members and your colleagues, in fact, all Russian scientists, and offer my best wishes on the occasion of the academy’s anniversary to you and all our people whose interests science is meant to serve. Three hundred years is a big round number. In the truest sense of the word, science is the bedrock of growth and progress. The research and technology sphere is crucial for achieving our national goals, improving quality of life, and ensuring our country’s security, sovereignty and self-sufficiency.
In light of new challenges and goals, we need to identify the best approaches, principles, and areas of work in fundamental research and applied innovations for the years to come.
As a reminder, we agreed to amend the Strategy for Scientific and Technological Development at the previous council meeting. I propose discussing its revised version today.
Following our discussion, please update and amend it accordingly and, within a week, submit for signature the draft Executive Order approving this key document. To reiterate, we agreed that in terms of its importance this document is tantamount to the National Security Strategy.
It is critically important in this regard that the decision to amend the strategy was made based on the profound political and technological transformations underway around the world and the unprecedented sanctions pressure on our country.
It is also obvious that the priorities of scientific and technological advancement should be closely linked to key economic, social and security challenges and objectives, should promote and ensure Russia’s sovereignty in every sense: a sovereign state, values, industry and definitely technology.
I would like to reiterate: we need to provide ourselves with our own technologies, key components, materials, tools and equipment in every key area – in every domain important for the country’s development and for improving its citizens’ quality of life – to be able to manufacture the entire range of necessary products. But in markets where we have, or will have, unique competencies, we need to aim for leading global positions.
These approaches, which are clearly stated in the updated draft Strategy, should guide us in the implementation of our scientific and technological agenda.
In this regard, I believe it expedient to compile an updated list of the most important and necessary science-intensive technologies and generally actualise the priorities for domestic science.
I ask the Government together and the Presidium of the Council for Science and Education to draft relevant proposals, while also taking into account the long-term forecast of scientific and technological development. We will review this work at the next meeting of the Council in summer.
The priorities outlined in the draft Strategy clearly require fundamentally new approaches to the financing of science.
I would like to highlight something obvious but really important: any scientific programme’s efficiency should be measured by products, technologies, and qualitative changes in the economy and in people’s lives.
I can say that we already have success stories where such significant and much needed results were achieved through joint efforts by the state, science and business.
I can cite many examples, but with regard to food security, Russian scientists and breeders have achieved outstanding success. After we lost much of our breeding industry in the 1990s, we are now witnessing an increase in the number of domestic poultry farms breeding our own meat breed of chickens, known as Smena-9.
There is another major achievement in a whole different area which is nuclear energy. Rosatom has begun assembling the world’s first nuclear waste-free energy complex with a closed fuel cycle which relies on groundbreaking principles and the latest environmentally friendly technology based on conventional nuclear energy, and thermonuclear energy.
We must achieve substantial and convincing results in other areas of our economy as well. All-round support must be provided to the efforts to achieve them and to comply with the deadlines, including the use of effective mechanisms for appropriating funds dedicated to scientific research.
In this regard, I would like to discuss the Russian Science Foundation. We will discuss the strategy to promote its activities today as well. Notably, the foundation is usually very selective with regard to projects and research outcomes and boasts best practices when it comes to scientific expertise, so it is critically important for it to continue to operate as an effective vehicle for supporting researchers, including young researchers who are beginning their careers.
We have expanded the foundation’s mandate. In addition to supporting fundamental research, it has been funding key applied projects since 2023.
It has material results to show in this department as well. Last year, innovative technical solutions made it possible to significantly increase the production of super-high-frequency electronic equipment. The first items based on domestically produced photonic integrated circuits will go to market, and Russia will improve its self-sufficiency in electronics. The Government is working hard on these matters.
These impressive results were due to the fruitful cooperation with major companies and the Ministry of Industry and Trade, among other things. And so I ask other ministries, government agencies, and state corporations to cooperate with the Russian Science Foundation more actively, to build long-term partnerships.
In this regard, I propose that civilian science projects be selected on a competitive basis by the Russian Science Foundation. This is the first point.
Second. I believe we need to increase funding for applied projects supported by the foundation, but not by redistributing state science and technology programme resources – we need to explore other funding options.
I know this may be challenging, as I was talking with the Government about the budget only yesterday. We discussed our priorities, so I know. But still, we need to think about it, and we need to move in this direction, while keeping unchanged the amount of support for the foundation’s fundamental programmes.
I would like to make a general comment about the financing of domestic science. Russia is one of the leading countries in terms of public spending on science. I cannot say where exactly we stand in this, but in general this is true – Russia occupies one of the top spots. Furthermore, I would like to note that the total amount of government spending on civilian research and development will exceed 1.5 trillion rubles in the next three years.
In this year’s budget, we have added allocations for the development of science. But anyone familiar with the funding process or with science, can see that in real terms, spending on science is slightly down this year, adjusted for inflation, and it is also a smaller percentage of GDP.
Therefore, I ask the Government to consider expanding financial support for Russian science. This is a very important issue. It is of fundamental importance, crucial for progress in every area. Our national development goals, the ones we keep talking about, as we should, are also unlikely to be met without solving the challenges in the domain that we are discussing today. It is unlikely that we will be able to achieve these goals, the high bar we have set for ourselves.
Let us move on to the agenda.