President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Today we are holding the first meeting of the Commission that we agreed to establish.
I outlined the fundamental challenges and the reasons for creating this Commission on May 15 [at the meeting on the modernisation and technological development of Russia’s economy]. Of course further work will be carried out with the Cabinet, representatives of the regions, our country's scientific and expert community, and I hope that we can also count on the active involvement of Russian business.
The regulations concerning setting up the Commission and its composition are all in place and have been approved by me, which means that we can get down to work. Now we need to start the process of modernisation without delay, and unfortunately we have to do so as usual in “manual mode”. To do this we will need to single out some very specific projects.
At the forum in St Petersburg [St Petersburg International Economic Forum], I talked about the need to create a so-called intelligent economy in Russia. Of course our intelligence and ability to innovate are now our main competitive advantages, but we tend to talk more about these than actually doing anything with them. For this reason our challenge is to make the actual work in this area as prestigious as possible.
For centuries we have sent our raw materials abroad and bought all our “smart” products there as well. Of course there have been some rays of light in the gloom but unfortunately this is still one of our most serious problems. It is easier to buy abroad and send our natural wealth there, but we must ensure that our businesses are motivated to produce the best products and create the most competitive services in our country. Besides, only if our own citizens want to buy these products and services will the rest of the world want to do the same.
Today we’ll be focusing on the key priorities, the most important ones, the areas of so-called technological breakthrough, which in my opinion should be under direct presidential control. The selection criteria are the following.
First, those areas where we already have built up significant momentum, where the indications of our competitiveness or our competitive potential have not been lost or killed off.
Second, those sectors of the economy that will produce a significant multiplier effect and act as a catalyst for modernisation in related industries.
Third, areas bound up with defence requirements and the nation’s security, and this involves a wide range of issues concerning how the situation stands now vis-а-vis the past.
We need to support those areas where Russian researchers are working at a world-class level and where we can be reasonably certain that we can produce things for which there will be a market in the foreseeable future.
And, finally, another important point is the social impact of these projects, their attractiveness, their relevance for our people. We must not lose sight of this either.
The purpose of our meeting, which is taking place in an unusual but very significant location, is to discuss and approve a list of such projects, with the understanding that within each subject area we will also draw the appropriate distinctions between different fields.
What are the areas in which I propose to concentrate our efforts? There are five of them, and this for a couple of reasons: because we can’t afford to have too many priorities and because certain numbers have symbolic connotations.
The first area involves energy efficiency and conservation, including the development of new fuels.
Second is nuclear technology.
Third is space technology, primarily related to telecommunications, including of course GLONASS [Global Navigation Satellite System] and the development programme for ground infrastructure.
Fourth is medical technology, especially diagnostic equipment and drugs.
And fifth is strategic information technology, including the creation of supercomputers and software development.
For each of these areas we must prepare a distinct plan as well as set up the relevant working groups. I hope that all of us, all those involved in the Presidential Commission, will participate in or lead a given working group.
Of course for the above-mentioned projects we need new tools, and we need to make effective use of those tools that we have already created at the regulatory level, the ones we have approved but are still only operating at half-speed, or sometimes at 5 percent of capacity. I mean instruments such as venture capital funds, special economic zones and technology parks.
In addition, of course targeted support for research and educational programmes, improving technical standards, using systems of public procurement, and co-financing projects designed to modernise the economy remain important.
I would say a little more regarding one crucial project, namely developing an energy efficient and resource-saving economy. I believe that we can include in this category problems associated with the advanced, deep processing of our resources.
The issue of energy efficiency in our country has been dealt with very badly: we hear some chit-chat and then nothing happens. And even a crisis – something that everyone acknowledges – has not helped in the slightest. Despite the fact that production costs are not falling, that often production has stopped, and competitiveness has declined sharply, no one is working on energy efficiency. Despite all this, nothing is happening.
To change the situation we have to adopt absolutely specific measures within the time frames that we will set together and, of course, produce concrete results that will be meaningful for all our people. I mean, for example, improving energy efficiency in housing and communal services – this should help keep the prices for services in this area down. This is a direct result and has a direct correlation. Only in this case will the project for energy efficiency actually work and not simply remain on paper.
If we don’t solve this problem, a systemic one, we will not make a breakthrough in reducing expenses or increasing productivity, nor will we improve the competitiveness of our products, even the most high-tech ones.
I wish to draw your attention to one other issue. We have repeatedly said that people’s quality of life directly depends on their access to modern medicine, medical care and medication.
Today we cannot be content with the figures for the diseases that we have. This has been stated repeatedly with regards to cardiovascular pathology, cancer, viruses and psychiatric illness.
We cannot be content with our current dependence on imports of expensive drugs and medical equipment. At the same time, along with this there are good developments in the equipment used in a number of areas, including, for example, radiodiagnosis.
Our situation is difficult with regard to drugs: we first need to start producing critically important drugs, to do so independently or with the participation of foreign companies. There is nothing to feel embarrassed about in this regard because this issue is a matter of life or death.
I am referring to antibiotics, hormonal drugs, psychoactive drugs and antipsychotics, and main vaccines. I will not, of course, go into all these areas now – we will discuss them later.
In conclusion I would like to say that what we are working on is literally our country’s future.
Let's start working.