The President said that the mega-grant programme had allowed Russian scientists abroad to realise their potential in Russia.
The plan aims to bring the world’s top scientists, including Russian compatriots living abroad, to Russian higher education institutions and encourage young people to pursue careers in the fields of science, education and high technologies.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends, colleagues,
Six years ago, at the congress of our leading political party – which did quite well during yesterday’s election – that is, the 11th congress, which was held in 2009, we set ourselves the task of attracting leading experts to Russia’s higher education institutions and research centres. The mega-grant programme has been working for six years now, and you have all been actively involved in it.
The programme's objective is to bring the world’s top researchers, including our compatriots living abroad, to Russian higher education institutions and research organisations, improve academic mobility and create additional avenues for scientific cooperation.
Fairly sizable sums have been provided to fund these mega-grants. They have lost some of their value due to exchange rate fluctuations, but 30 billion rubles is still a lot of money, and we will, of course, think of ways to add to that money to compensate for the exchange rate losses.
An examination of projects was conducted on the basis of international standards and with the involvement of not only Russian, but also foreign experts. Each programme was analysed by two Russian specialists and two foreign specialists. As expected, we have gained a lot of insight from this work.
Already 160 world-class laboratories are working with you and your colleagues from around the world, leading this research. Competitive research teams have been formed.
Mr Fursenko [Presidential Aide] has drafted a note about the recipients of mega-grants, which include 78 foreign and 82 Russian researchers, 57 of whom reside outside of Russia. The contest winners include five Nobel Prize winners, and a Fields Prize winner.
In addition to Moscow and St Petersburg, the laboratories were created at higher education institutions and research organisations in Tomsk, Novosibirsk, Krasnodar, Petrozavodsk, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Rostov, Saratov, Kaliningrad and Vladivostok, to name a few – 25 Russian regions in all.
World-class research results have been obtained, not only in physics and mathematics, where our schools are traditionally considered to be strong, but also in areas that are new to us, such as computational biology, cognitive psychology, medical technology and so on.
A big step forward was made in creating drugs for treating neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. Innovative and unmatched mechanisms for diagnosing cancer have been created, which are utterly vital for Russia and the rest of the world.
I would like to stress that this is extremely important and timely for our country, because even though we have managed to considerably reduce mortality rates from various diseases and made some headway against cancer in that regard, the latter advance has been less significant. It is of critical importance to continue research in this area, first of all for humanitarian reasons.
We have begun to implement the results of research, including in healthcare and nuclear medicine, and so on.
I would like to point out that over a half of the staff at the newly established laboratories ‒ some of which I visited together with Mr Fursenko during trips to Russian regions ‒ are young researchers under 35. Overall, nearly 3,000 scientists from Russian universities and research organisations have benefited from the experience of working together with the world’s top scientists.
Another important outcome. The mega-grant programme has helped you and other scientists who have spent years working abroad to realise your potential in Russia.
I would also like to use this opportunity to thank you and your Russian and international colleagues for taking part in this programme. I thank you for the contribution that you are making and that I hope you will continue to make to the development of science in Russia and worldwide and to the training of Russian researchers as part of the mega-grant programme and outside of this programme, should you decide to continue your research at Russian universities.
The programme is for now planned to run until 2020. Of course, we will consider renewing it.
All in all, I want to stress that we are satisfied with the programme. A long-term strategy of science and technology development is to be drafted before the year’s end, and we will of course make sure to include the experience acquired through your participation in the programme.
Thank you all once again for your participation.