Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, dear Council members!
Today's agenda contains one very important issue. I am referring to the 2008–2012 programme for fundamental scientific research. This is the first time that we are adopting a separate programme for this issue and, in large part, this is thanks to the initiative of the Academy of Sciences. And for the first time in many years a significant amount of funding will be allocated to fundamental science. We will guarantee its regular and stable financing throughout the next five years.
I would also to point out that total budgetary spending on science in 2007 amounted to over 200 billion rubles. This is nearly five times more than what we spent in 2000. Five times more! And the total expenditures on science will double again by 2010. If we take into account what Russian business plans to spend in this sector – about 600 billion rubles – then the amount will double again in the next two years. Along with this, I would, nevertheless, like to draw your attention to certain disturbing trends.
The cabinet members and I discussed certain provisions concerning today's meeting and they noticed the following: the more budgetary resources come into the system, the less business invests in this sector. In fact, business gets squeezed out. They are not needed. And why is that? Because everything is stable and secure. And this is wrong: we need to create incentives to attract money from businesses.
As you can imagine, all of this — all of the issues associated with the increase in funding –are important resources that should help encourage the development of science in Russia. There are not only representatives from the Russian Academy of Sciences here, there are also leaders from all public academies. And we are, of course, perfectly aware that fundamental research is a crucial part of science. We believe that this is the basis of its development and, last but not least, the starting point of the entire cycle of innovation.
In connection with this the rapid development of fundamental science will become a necessary condition for the modernization of the entire Russian economy, and for assuming a leading position in the global division of labour. For that reason the programme's priorities, as well as the tools for its implementation, should be directed towards ensuring that academic scientific research has a tangible result for state and society.
You know that in recent years we were able to do more than simply retain science's intellectual base; we were also able to provide significant support to a number of new and promising fields, including nanotechnology, nuclear energy, optoelectronics, bioinformatics, bioengineering and other directions.
We have significantly strengthened science's legal base, we have adopted an up-to-date law on science, and science and technology policy that contains the elements of the programme we are discussing today.
As you are well aware, just a few years ago the Russian cabinet approved a new charter for the Russian Academy of Sciences that consolidates the legal status of the main Academy as well as expands its possibilities, autonomy and spheres of responsibility.
Along with this I would like to draw your attention to the fact that increased autonomy goes together with increased responsibility. We need to think about optimizing the network: there are 600 enterprises of which only 400 are involved directly in scientific research. The remaining 200 are not.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Academy of Sciences is not a commercial organisation. Its main purpose is research, not commercial activities for profit. This also applies to the 200 institutions that are not engaged in scientific research activities. I would like to draw your attention to this.
We already have the results of a pilot project to improve the wages paid within the Russian Academy of Sciences. Just recently it was hard to believe that we would be able to achieve quick and passable results in this sector. And, in general, the Academy of Sciences and its leadership was able to achieve them. Researchers' average salaries have more than doubled and, of course, they will continue to increase.
I regret to have to point out that the cabinet is not fully aware of what is happening in this sphere. In general, we have an agreement with the Academy of Sciences, but what is actually happening is another matter. And the cabinet certainly should pay special attention to this in the near future. We finally need to determine whether additional payments for the degrees and academic stipends are the same thing or not. All members of the Academy of Sciences receive degree payments. And another academic stipend on top of that? Or could the academic stipend simply absorb this additional degree payments? This is not not the most important thing for researchers to work on, but the state and the cabinet – and of course together with the Academy's leadership – must be aware of precisely what is going on in this sphere.
We have to instill order here, and this is quite obvious.
Today academic science's main task is to take advantage of new opportunities. I repeat that these opportunities will increase, and there is no doubt about that. The cabinet will pay all necessary attention to this and the possibilities, including financial ones, will increase. You need to take advantage of these new opportunities and invest in the relevant, promoting competitive advantage knowledge, technology and finished products.
I shall note that adopting such a programme requires further substantial changes in the way that research projects are organised, especially the way they are planned and the priorities they set. The basic capacities of our fundamental science programmes in the coming years depends not only on the success of strategic and and defense industries, but also on developing various social processes in the Russian Federation.
For example, in the humanities creating an up-to-date research methodology remains a priority. This is particularly required in disciplines such as the social sciences, history, sociology and philosophy. And, of course, we need to engage in more profound analyses of the development of contemporary Russian society, and take into account how new global trends influence our country.
With regards to the economic sphere we clearly need strategic scenarios and projections for the social and economic development of both the domestic economy as a whole, and that of separate territories and individual sectors. I repeat that the very future of fundamental sciences depends directly on its ability to ensure that innovative growth takes place in Russia. In turn, this refers to the effectiveness with which they can integrate academic science with the production and professional education. And in this respect I would agree with the recent conclusion made by the Public Chamber. Namely that, unfortunately, these three aspects are proceeding in separate ways and developing in isolation.
The academic sector must also create an innovative environment and work closely together with other research centres and the existing state institutions for development. The future of science – and here I would exclude purely fundamental research – includes active participation in establishing technically innovative zones, technological parks, other innovative business structures and, of course, productive ways of integrating science and education. And I just signed the corresponding federal law on strengthening and developing these last two sectors. I am referring to how to expand the possibilities of academic research, attract young academics from universities, and attract students. And at the same time we need to give universities the possibility to use the equipment that is available for academic institutions.
I think that the Academy of Sciences should engage in the very closest cooperation with the corresponding university departments. They are certainly able and should become a meaningful part of Russia's fundamental science.
I will touch on one other of the programme's main provisions, namely on involving youth in fundamental research. And I think that you will agree with me that youth is in particular need to first and foremost see clear prospects for their academic future, to be interested and engaged in interesting and topical fields, and to have the opportunity to participate directly in international academic exchanges and research.
I am convinced that the academic environment itself is in many ways capable of resolving this problem, especially since material incentives for talented youth are developing, albeit slowly, and that respect for the work and profession of academic is once again increasing in our society.
In addition, at the Council's initiative a federal programme for educating academics and keeping them in the profession to teach and do research has been prepared. It takes into account the years to come and is now being reviewed by the government cabinet. I would draw the cabinet's attention to the fact that this programme should be adopted as soon as possible. As is often the case, it is once again a question of funding – funds need to be allocated to this issue. This is a crucial field in which we cooperate. Adopting this document will allow us to ensure not only the continuity of our scientific traditions but also ensure the necessary renewal of our national fundamental schools.
And there is one more question that I would ask you to think about, to get involved in, and to formulate the corresponding order to the government of the Russian Federation in light of the results of our work today. You need to prepare a programme for the future technological renewal of the fundamental sciences and to strengthen science's technical and technological bases.
However, I would like to draw your attention to one important thing. I agree with cabinet members that this programme should not be narrowly confined to one department, rather it must be broad and all-encompassing. We need to determine what our priorities are, where and what to do. Everything should be worked out in such a format, and adopted and financed in dialogue with the cabinet.
Dear Colleagues! We are in a historic place, in a building that has belonged to the Russian Academy of Sciences for over 70 years. More than one decisions of great importance for national science has been taken in this meeting room. The very establishment of the Academy by Peter the Great was originally intended to be a crucial step towards the creation of powerful intellectual resources in Russia that could significantly strengthen the Russian state and its position in the world. For almost three centuries now, all major academic endeavors have preserved this ideal of serving the public. I expect that academic science, all your colleagues, and all of us will do whatever is necessary to support strategic decisions to ensure Russia's long-term development objectives.