President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,
We are meeting at the famous Kurchatov Institute, which will mark its 75th anniversary this year. I wish all the best to the institute’s staff on this date.
Laboratory No. 2 was established in 1943, at the most difficult period of the war. It is here that the Soviet nuclear project was launched. It is difficult to overestimate its importance and the incredible achievements of our scientists, designers and engineers. They have made a huge contribution to the country’s defence capability. Speaking plainly, they have probably saved the country with their achievements. The parity they have created made an invaluable contribution to global security.
It is important that we not only preserve our unique competencies but continue to move forward.
I would like to remind you that Laboratory No. 2 began with a few lathes, a small room, 20 kilograms of uranium and 10 flats allocated to Kurchatov’s personnel. The laboratory itself was located in a Moscow suburb.
Today Kurchatov Institute is the world’s only research centre that has a synchrotron, a super-powerful laser, as well as nuclear energy, plasma and genetic complexes. This high concentration of research infrastructure allows you to conduct unique multidisciplinary research.
I hope that our meeting at this historical venue with the Kurchatov Institute’s Scientific Council and the RAS Presidium will provide an opportunity to discuss our priorities at the current stage of technological development.
Friends, Igor Kurchatov said it was important to chart the high priorities in any project because secondary, although essential, work will otherwise sap our strength. According to Kurchatov, we must deal with only the most important aspects of our work and life. We need a real breakthrough; this is our most important task today. We must use technological progress for developing our vast territories, for boosting economic, industrial and agricultural efficiency.
Obviously, science is beginning to play a crucial role in national development. And we have the potential for addressing top-level research, design and technological tasks.
As you have probably noticed, in my address to the Federal Assembly, I discussed new Russian strategic weapons systems in great detail. No other country has such a system today. Dozens of companies, design bureaus and research centres, including Kurchatov Institute and other academic institutions, helped develop them. A new generation of scientists, engineers and skilled workers also made a substantial contribution to this effort.
I repeat, we were able to develop these technologies only because Russia boasts a powerful fundamental research sector, with great research, technological and industrial potential and, most importantly, a powerful human resource potential. It would be impossible to address these tasks without this system.
Today, we need to use advanced defence technologies in high-tech production sectors. Likewise, nuclear energy is now used for peaceful purposes, including power generating, the icebreaker fleet, etc.
Today, it is important to elevate Russian civilian science to a competitive international level using our accumulated potential. Russia must rank among the leading countries in numerous key research areas.
First of all, this is mathematics, the foundation of the digital economy. We have always led the way in this field, and we must continue to consolidate and strengthen our positions.
We need to take a dramatic step forward in genomic research and materials science, to reach a new level in the development and implementation of convergent, nature-like technologies. In fact, we are talking about broad interdisciplinary research at the juncture of mathematics, physics, biology, and information, cognitive and other sciences.
New discoveries will enable us to create qualitatively different methods of preventing, diagnosing, and treating diseases, including those that are still incurable, developing effective and environmentally safe technologies for generating energy and recycling domestic waste, and also making significant progress in the development and implementation of artificial intelligence systems, to increase their energy efficiency, replicating principles and processes found in nature.
Existing and newly created resources in theoretical research will help us reach new horizons in the study of our planet, outer space including deep space, and the history and origin of the universe. Our scientists can and should achieve significant results in these areas, which are among the most important for the whole of civilisation.
Colleagues, in the coming years, we must implement a national science project comparable with the nuclear and space projects in scale and historical significance for the country.
What are the key points here?
First. It is necessary to build an effective, modern system for the management of scientific and technological development that will unite the capabilities of research institutes, universities, and high-tech companies, and will support large-scale interdisciplinary research and rapid commercialisation of advanced solutions.
In the restricted format meeting just before, we recalled how, prior to 1998, the Academy did not even have a legal entity. I do not know whether this is good or bad, but it is necessary to integrate into the existing system, otherwise effective work will not be possible.
Second, we must increase funding for research and at the same time ensure that these funds are used efficiently. Money should go to organisations that produce considerable practical results.
We will do our best to increase budgetary allocations for fundamental research by 50 percent in the next few years. During the restricted format meeting, we spoke about gradually increasing funding for research and design from 1.1 percent to 2 percent of GDP.
You know that this is a challenging task. It is challenging not because we do not want to do this or because of the money involved. Not at all. It is a challenging task because 70 percent of the total spending is funded from the budget. In other industrialised countries, 30 percent of funds come from the budget, but it is 70 percent in our case. We have to take this into account. We can hardly increase budgetary allocations rapidly. But we can and will create additional incentives for businesses to invest in research and design, additional incentives for big and small high-tech companies. In short, we must create an investment climate that can spark a genuine technological boom. This is something we simply have to do.
Third, we must upgrade at least a half of the equipment and research infrastructure at leading research organisations. We have talked about this here. I fully agree that this must be done, and I think that we can do it. We must continue to develop mega-science projects in Russia.
I have mentioned the creation of such systems in Protvino in the Moscow Region and Akademgorodok in Novosibirsk. It has been proposed today that such cutting-edge infrastructure also be created in Vladivostok. I support this proposal. We will act on it.
Fourth, we need to create a comprehensive system for training researchers and creating conditions for the professional advancement of young researchers, so that they will have better conditions for research, for setting up research laboratories and teams, as well as for the practical application of their solutions and ideas.
Fifth, talent, competences of scientists and engineers and, of course, their social status are a key factor in technological breakthroughs. All this must develop, and their social status must increase.
At the same time, I would like to emphasise that a researcher’s remuneration must, first of all, be pegged to the results of his or her work. They have also discussed this matter today, and they have noted that hard working people that achieve certain results, regardless of their official place of work, must receive equal incomes, and not just at major centres. These incomes must be equal, regardless of what region they work in. We must pay adequately for a substantial contribution to accomplishing research tasks. Living conditions for those creating and introducing engineering solutions must also be competitive.
Equal research and creative opportunities have principled significance. I agree completely with what has already been said here.
No institute or any single Russian region can monopolise science. We must do our best to create attractive places for dedicated professionals, for people fascinated with the idea of a technological breakthrough, for our young researchers, for world-famous foreign scientists, including our compatriots, all over Russia.
We will continue to consolidate our federal universities and other higher education institutions and Academy institutes, and we will establish powerful research centres, including in such areas as the digital economy, the humanities, healthcare and agriculture, as well as in other sectors and disciplines.
I hope that Kurchatov Institute and the Russian Academy of Sciences will become most actively involved in this work, and that they will jointly address research tasks and achieve technological breakthroughs. The Academy and the institute have signed the relevant agreement today. I assume that all this will effectively promote the development of Russian science and that of the entire country.
Thank you very much for your attention, and I wish you all the best.