President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends,
I am delighted to welcome you all.
Last year was the first experience of holding the Congress of Young Scientists and talking with your colleagues.
There is a reason these events are hosted at Sirius, and I am sure that you know why, by now. I see some people here in this hall who work here – they must certainly know why young researchers pick this venue.
Overall, I think we have successfully created a very good education cluster for children at the former Olympic campus, but, as planned, we are taking further steps – we are creating laboratories of the highest level and class, world-class, without exaggeration, a university is already created. I hope that in the future, it will be possible to include production facilities here. Not as big as the Putilov plant of course, not here, but specific high-tech facilities can definitely be deployed. Then this will be a full-cycle cluster, from school to industry.
Fundamental research can be done here and applied research as well – everything can be done right here, and I think this is a good choice of a site.
But, of course, this is not the only reason. I think this congress is also a very popular event per se because young people always look to the future. That’s just because they are young and have their whole lives ahead of them. And young scientists are certainly planning careers in the fields they have chosen. This, in turn, means that when people like you get together, this gives the state the opportunity not only to listen to you, but also to draw the right conclusions, and this helps the state to become familiar with the priorities of promoting science, its development goals and objectives.
This is extremely important, because there is a range of goals to be met in this respect. One of them – perhaps the most important one – is the need to transition to a new level of technological development right away. I think that you have certainly talked about this among yourselves and will definitely talk about it here. The question arises: is this huge leap – you certainly know where this idea comes from – is it even possible in science? In our country, right now? I think that it is definitely possible, bearing in mind the fundamental research groundwork done by previous generations, and they did a lot.
Indeed, much was lost in the 1990s, when everything, including science, was falling apart and the education system was plagued with problems. However, our foundation in this was so strong that ruining everything was impossible.
The fact that you are meeting here, at Sirius, and discussing the future of science, shows that time and time again the very basic foundations of education and science in Russia are very strong. This leads us to believe that this leap, the ground-breaking transition to a new technological order is now possible in our country.
But nothing ever happens by itself. It is the people who make things happen. Young researchers are the people who we should pin our hopes on. This is what the state is doing, placing its hopes on you and people like you.
But in order for all that to happen – nothing can be done in the snap of a finger – all of society must set its mind to it, which is our second goal. Public authorities, agencies, public organisations and the public in general must make an effort to convince our society that sovereignty and the future of technological development, our technological, industrial, and even value-based sovereignty can rely on and can only come to pass on the basis of fundamental and applied science. Because – in fact, it has always been this way, and has now become particularly important and you know this better than anyone – this is what life is telling us to do, and the success of each individual, each country or country associations largely depend on scientific research performance, fundamental and applied research in all areas of life. And this goal is of paramount importance.
What do I mean when I say to “convince society, the state, and the public authorities?” This means it is imperative to encourage everyone to work in cooperation with you effectively, systematically and relentlessly. Without a doubt, if we proceed like this we will be successful.
We talk about research personnel training and training in general fairly often, if not always. I think, also at the initiative of your colleagues, we launched a project to educate research personnel last year. I think we have people in the audience who work in this area. It is a small number of about 85 people. This issue was discussed at a meeting with your colleagues last year, but it takes so long because the bureaucratic machine is so rusty – we launched this programme only in October. I think it is scheduled to last until May 2023. In fact, 85 people are not many, but not too few, either. It is just the first step.
But by and large, we certainly need to expand our work from local gatherings of company directors and their deputies to a systemic effort throughout the country. The Ministry of Education and Science, the Government as a whole and the regions will have to join this effort of course, including with your help – I also hope for it – to work out common approaches to training not just scientific researchers, but people who can do more than scientific research, who can also lead research teams.
Another urgent task is, of course, the integration of Russia’s new territories into the country’s scientific landscape and its educational environment. It is clear that those people who came and voted need to, as they say, take root in the Russian reality. And Russia needs most of all to gain a solid foothold there. This means more than attaining our military and political objectives there – it means working in those territories and with those people so that the people feel the benefit of the accession to Russia.
One of the heads of the new territories told me about families with children queuing for a medical check-up, a preventive examination, something that was probably never available in those territories before.
With all the difficulties, with all the tragic events, this is clearly a change for the better. But this is just one example; this must happen everywhere, so that this process becomes reliable, sustainable and successful. I have no doubts about its eventual success, but we need to ensure that it is tangible and achieved as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
This largely concludes my opening remarks. I would like to ask you to avoid turning our meeting into a Q&A session, especially because if you ask very specific questions, I will hardly be able to answer them fully, beautifully and interestingly. And I would just like to hear your opinion on what needs to be done, how you want it done, how soon, and what kind of support you need for your research activities, science and related education, of course, to make fast progress, as fast as we need it to grow and bring the necessary results to Russia.
That’s it for today. Thank you for your attention.
Go ahead, please. Surely you have proposals or questions. Please.
Ilya Larin, postgraduate student at Sirius University, junior research fellow at the Biomaterials department: Our field is interdisciplinary, we work at the junction of two sciences: biology and materials science. We are currently trying to focus on medical devices for reconstructive surgery and regenerative medicine.
Our university is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment. In this regard, I would like to make a suggestion: it is necessary to create engineering teams that will be engaged in repair and technical maintenance of a large fleet of scientific instruments since some companies – suppliers of this equipment – have left Russia. I would also like to suggest discussing the possibility of forming an integrated engineering centre at Sirius University and developing relevant educational programmes for the training of engineers.
It would allow us to not only maintain the existing scientific instruments both at Sirius and all across the country, but also to lay a foundation for developing the Russian instrument-making industry. Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: I am sure that everyone understands the importance of this matter.
Unfortunately, we depend heavily on foreign-made instruments, up to 90 percent in some fields. It is especially relevant in the current conditions, but – I constantly say, and you will probably agree, that it is obviously impossible to work without them. But what else is obvious is that it has been necessary to begin the development of our own instruments for some time now. You can use oil and gas revenues to purchase everything, from nails to diamonds, but then you will never produce anything of your own.
Therefore, the current situation prompts us to work independently in many areas, the production of our own scientific equipment, among others. The state is trying to do that, it has been doing it before the current heated events, and will continue to do so in the future.
Grants are awarded to the institutions that purchase Russian-made instruments for scientific research. Last year I believe such grants were given to institutions that purchased scientific instruments for research that are at least 10 percent Russian-made; this year it is 15 percent. And we will continue to increase this share in order to encourage customers to pay close attention to the need to purchase from domestic manufacturers. This is the first point.
The second, equally important one is the materials needed for maintenance.
You are absolutely right. Such an engineering centre is in demand. I will definitely give corresponding instructions to the Ministry of Education and Science. Some additional funding will be necessary, and we will look for it. This is absolutely the right thing to do.
But, of course, this will not be enough, because, as you know, generations of scientific instruments change every three to five years on the average. And we need to create such an environment, such a special industry, when this replacement would take place regularly and naturally. Obviously, it is impossible to produce everything 100 percent, and it is not necessary, since we can always find partners, I have no doubt about this. If we do it at a high level, then we will always have technological partners.
The same is with the congress: last year there were no such events like the one today: the event was purely Russian. Today, despite all these well-known events, representatives of 40 countries have arrived in Sochi and will work with you at the Congress of Young Scientists.
Nothing in today’s world can be artificially wrapped up and nothing can be tightened like some kind of cork, or shut down forever. It will never work. Especially if we create something that is innovative, in demand and essential, there will always be technological partners. This is how it will be, 100 percent. Therefore, we need to focus on our own production, but also to look for technological partners, and we will definitely find them.
There is demand for such an engineering centre and we will try to create it. Maintenance is needed, of course.
Olga Tarasova: I represent the Russian Society of Inventors and Innovators. This year our society turned 90 years old.
Continuing the topic of manufacturing scientific instruments and following up on the instructions issued after the meeting with young scientists last year, I would like to talk about a project called Our Laba, or the People's Catalogue of Scientific Equipment and Consumables.
Since July, together with the Presidential Coordinating Council of Young Scientists, we have been collecting information about scientific instruments and consumables produced in Russia and the Republic of Belarus and systematising it into a single online catalogue that has the option of giving feedback from our scientists and engineers.
Our project is not commercial, and we are mostly working with volunteers. Right now, our catalogue has over 8,000 items from almost all regions of Russia. We plan to translate the catalogue into several languages so it would be accessible to our partners from friendly countries.
Also today, the Our Laba exhibition opened at the Congress of Young Scientists, with 40 companies manufacturing scientific equipment and consumables presenting 190 instruments and over 600 units and types of consumables. This is a fairly large amount.
I would like to note that this initiative came from a participant in a meeting you held last year, young scientist Sergei Adonin, and we created this project together.
The main goal is for our scientists and engineers to be able to find and purchase goods that are produced in Russia and to support high-tech production. It really works, and we receive a lot of requests to search for analogues of various devices.
The second goal we are pursuing is to overcome the stereotype in our society that Russia does not produce high-quality scientific goods. I can say that this is not true. We talk to scientists and engineers and have found out that many of them did not even know that Russian analogues existed.
Secondly, indeed, our manufacturers sometimes are slower in replenishing the range of their goods and also in terms of production. But this is only due to the fact that they do not have free funds in order to improve these indicators.
I am sure that it is necessary to support manufacturers of scientific and engineering instruments, consumables and reagents. This is a very important task that we are now facing.
So here we have a proposal. Russia has been using a mechanism of investment tax deduction for many years, but it does not apply to manufacturers of scientific instruments and consumables in all Russian regions. Could you perhaps extend this mechanism to them? For them, this will be significant help in their work.
Vladimir Putin: Olga, first, as I have already said, here, of course, you always need a customer.
You said that manufacturers do not have enough free funds of their own. And there will never be enough if there is no market. Therefore, what you are doing is absolutely the right thing.
When our consumers – in this case, the consumers of these products – are unaware of the possibilities, an inconsistency arises: some do not know what can be ordered, while others wait until they get orders.
Of course, support is needed at the first stage, and, as I have already said, it is provided with the help of various grants, benefits, and so on. There is money – I do not remember how much, but it is a decent amount: I think around 37 billion in total is allocated for these purposes through various channels over the course of several years.
We can also discuss investment tax deduction. I do not think the Finance Ministry will go crazy. It is not that much money, especially since there is a tax deduction: so far there are no losses, because there is no investment. As long as there is no investment, there is nothing to consider as lost revenue for the budget, because it simply does not exist yet. And if you give some benefits, the industry will develop, and then you can receive budget revenue from it. So, we will definitely talk to the Government. Your idea is absolutely correct.
How do you do it, what do you use – your own money or what? Who is doing this, and with what funds?
Olga Tarasova: We are a noncommercial project. Our team works in our free time, together with our volunteers, people, members of our community. We made an announcement about the opportunity to work in such a large federal project. People respond, monitor and search, and we are working on the examination and verification of documentation and after that we enter it into our register.
Vladimir Putin: Great. This is very noble and very helpful.
Perhaps you need some help and support?
Olga Tarasova: Mr President, the most important thing is if you say, ”Buy Russian goods.“ It is the most important thing.
Vladimir Putin: I always talk about this. I repeat once again: buy Russian goods.
Alexandra Zalavskaya: I am a postgraduate student at the Donetsk Academy of Management and Public Administration under the Head of the Donetsk People's Republic.
First of all, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to you for the attention and assistance that you give to the people living in the republic, including for the decision to demobilise full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students.
My colleagues previously spoke about scientific instrumentation, but I would like to talk about the republic’s scientific and educational environment as part of its integration into the Russian Federation.
Today the republic has 29 dissertation councils in 56 scientific specialties, where more than 600 dissertations have been defended. Scientific journals are published. Now there is the urgent issue of the possible inclusion of the republic’s journals in the list of peer-reviewed publications of the Higher Attestation Commission of the Russian Federation.
Also, educational institutions face the following problem: since May 26, 2000, an agreement has been in force between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on the mutual recognition and equivalence of educational diplomas and academic titles. However, diplomas issued between 1991 and 2000 are not recognised in Russia and are subject to a validation procedure. Is it possible to simplify this procedure for people in the republic who have such diplomas issued during the specified period?
In conclusion, I would like to ask you what the deadline for completing the republic’s integration into the scientific and education space of Russia is.
Vladimir Putin: I will begin with the last question. As for the deadline, it will, of course, depend on the pace at which we move. The faster the better.
Now about the recognition of documents. I believe we made a decision recently to recognise all diplomas and education documents issued in the LPR, DPR and other territories that are part of Russia. If it is as you said, and 1991 to 2000 is an exception, I cannot tell you the final decision now, but I agree that with regard to Russian citizens who live on these territories, of course, it is necessary to adopt such a decision. I made a note.
In fact, to be honest, this is surprising to me, because I thought enough decisions had been made. If they are lacking, we will fix it. People must be able to live normally, so that they do not have problems due to the fact that they came and voted to become part of the Russian Federation.
You probably know better, but as far as I know, in all these areas the rather complicated state of infrastructure – this is the state of buildings, facilities, the instrumentation, and so on – poses a problem. According to preliminary calculations, this will require tens of billions of rubles, about 37 billion, I think. These funds will be allocated, and we will do all this as planned.
But another very important topic in this regard is integration into the entire scientific and educational space of Russia. This means that you and your colleagues, just as you are now participating in the Congress of Young Scientists at Sirius in Sochi, should work not only at this, but at all other platforms that are relevant and interesting to you. And we will encourage the Ministry of Education and Science and the Academy of Sciences to involve you in all events of this kind.
As for academies and higher education teaching staff, there are issues related to ensuring that all of them, including you, enjoy the same the standards and benefits that your Russian colleagues do. I mean members of the academies of sciences, various academies in Ukraine, those citizens who live in the Donetsk and Lugansk republics and the other two regions, Zaporozhye and Kherson. This applies to the entire social component. We will certainly make all the decisions on these issues.
But there is another aspect related to Kherson. There were, if I am not mistaken, four universities that moved from the right bank to the left one, to Genichesk and one more town, and we must do everything to ensure that students continue their education. Many of them continue studying part-time, and it is necessary to create the appropriate conditions for them. This will certainly be done, as well as for the teaching staff of these universities. We will definitely do this as planned, without any fuss; we will do it.
As for the demobilisation of undergraduate, postgraduate students and those in master’s programmes, then today (today is December 1), according to plan, it should end. I hope that is the case.
Valeria Fyodorova: I am the head of the department of ecology and health and safety. I represent the Donbas State Technical Institute, Lugansk People's Republic, city of Alchevsk.
My topic will also be integration, but at the outset I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the tremendous help and support you have given to our republics over the past eight and a half years. And also, for the opportunity to be here, to take part in the Congress of Young Scientists, and to meet with gifted intellectuals from various parts of our vast motherland.
Mr President, it is well known that the Russian Federation has extensive state support for young scientists in the form of grants and scholarships aimed at promoting scientific research. Following the accession of new territories to the Russian Federation, of course, the integration of educational institutions into the Russian educational space intensified. Is it possible to include the universities located in the new Russian territories in the grant support programme? Will the launch of programmes for the development of science in the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics and in the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions be considered? Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: I think it is becoming clear to everyone here why we supported and eventually went for recognition and acceptance of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics, then two more territories into the Russian Federation. If you look at the young girls: how is a Fyodorova living in the Lugansk Republic different from a Fyodorova somewhere in Novosibirsk, St Petersburg or Moscow? In no way. These are our people.
So, of course, we must do everything to support them, including supporting them with grants. Of course, we will take such a decision. We will. There are no questions about it.
I have already spoken about the need to focus primarily on infrastructure in general. We will be doing that. It was just not envisaged beforehand. We will. We will allocate appropriate resources to put everything in order. But, of course, we will have to do it in such a way as to ensure the normal functioning of both the educational process and the scientific component of higher education institutions.
You mentioned grants – we will definitely do that. But not just that. In my comments to your colleague, I said that there are many other things that need to be done, above all with regard to all the instruments for supporting education and science that have been established in the Russian Federation in recent years. I mean that the teaching staff's income should be brought in line with 200 percent of the regional average. We will work in all these areas, and all the necessary decisions will be taken.
Artyom Kovalyov: I represent the Psychology Department of Moscow University and perhaps I would like to partly continue the topic of integration, because this year Moscow State University has become a sister university of Donetsk National University.
Vladimir Putin: I believe several dozen universities and higher education institutions have partnered respective educational institutions on the territory of the new regions.
Artyom Kovalyov: When we first met with fellow psychologists from Donetsk, we noted, it seems to me, two very important points.
Firstly, we share a common history. If we take a look at this history, we can see that psychology as a science and a practice has always been at the service of the state and its objectives. For example, during the Great Patriotic War, experts in visual perception were involved in masking buildings in Leningrad and Moscow, such as the Kremlin or the Bolshoi Theatre. Neuropsychologists restored lost higher mental functions – memory, attention, thinking, and speech – in wounded soldiers. In the postwar years, psychologists accompanied manned space flights and were engaged in the organisation of labour at production facilities.
Secondly, the psychology community’s ties to the state became somewhat looser in the 1990s. And the worst thing is that, under the guise of psychological assistance, various shamans, fortune-tellers, and psychics began to promote their pseudo-psychological services.
Now, during the post-pandemic period and during the special military operation, it is essential that professional psychologists deal with such problems as post-traumatic stress disorder among the military, provide qualified psychological assistance to family members, and work with refugees, especially children, in temporary accommodation centres.
Therefore, I propose starting systematic work to hire qualified psychologists to address these problems in all departments, institutions, and agencies. And, perhaps, specialised interdisciplinary R&D programmes for such complex problems as, for example, post-traumatic stress disorder, would serve as scientific and methodological support for such work.
And in order to establish and perhaps raise the significance of psychology, Mr President, I would also like to propose establishing a professional day for us. We recently marked November 22 as the Day of Establishing the Russian Psychological Society. It seems to me that such measures would improve the psychological well-being of the people of our country. Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Can you please repeat what you said about November 22?
Artyom Kovalyov: To establish Psychologist’s Day, our professional holiday.
We traditionally celebrate this day, because it is the Day of establishing the Russian Psychological Society, which became the successor of the Society of Psychologists of the USSR.
Vladimir Putin: I see. I cannot promise anything, but I will definitely instruct the Executive Office to look into this, for sure.
With regard to the expansion or wider involvement of specialists today to mitigate the problems to which you have dedicated your life, this is correct. This is not only related to the special military operation, no.
The fact is that last year, VCIOM [Russian Public Opinion Research Center], if I am not mistaken, conducted a sociological survey and came to the following conclusion: 15 percent of the country's citizens need psychological help, and among young people, the figure is 35 percent. These are the poll results.
So, of course, we must admit that these services are not yet being properly developed. This is happening because, unfortunately, the state does not pay enough attention to this at all levels, even the municipal level, more than at the state, regional or federal levels. Especially today, you are right, today it is all the more necessary.
You know, I will ask the Prime Minister to consider this issue at a meeting of the Coordinating Council, which we recently created to resolve certain well-known tasks. For instance, the Emergencies Ministry uses the services of psychologists regularly and effectively. Why? Because there is obviously a need for this help, the help of specialists like you. But, judging by the polls that I just mentioned, this needs to be spread more widely, throughout country. We will definitely deal with this. Thank you for raising this issue.
(Director of the Kamchatka Office of the Geophysical Service under the Russian Academy of Science Danila Chebrov said that the service is engaged in the study of earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis, issuing warnings and forecasting these events. He said that the Federal System of Seismological Monitoring, based on a seismological network, requires state attention and support. The Unified Geophysical Service supports this system, and Mr Chebrov is responsible for its Kamchatka branch. The system has not been updated for a long time, he said, and is underequipped compared with leading nations, which curtails research and disaster warning. The network is in fact a megascience-class project, he said, with the Kamchatka network alone being an enormous project that requires a nationwide effort. Mr Chebrov asked the President to direct his attention to this issue.
One of Mr Chebrov’s proposals is to invite state corporations to engage in seismological monitoring and ensuring safety from rare but highly dangerous natural phenomena such as earthquakes, tsunamis and volcano eruptions.
Vladimir Putin said that this issue needed work and stressed that the Government must pay more attention to this. He promised to issue instructions to help bring corporations on board while asking the Government to thoroughly consider this issue once again.
Another meeting participant, Pavel Orekhov, represented the Arctic Research Station of the Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology in Labytnangi, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District. He said that the district drew on the first Young Researchers’ Congress to hold a sister event to put in an order for measures to be designed to solve the region’s most pressing issues. A team of 82 experts held project sessions that outlined four key areas: minimising infrastructure-related risks due to climate warming and thawing of permafrost, promotion of reindeer husbandry, development of drilled cutting disposal technology for the Arctic, and valuable fish species population recovery. The team spelled out measures to ensure fish recovery; however, some of the more effective tools are to a certain degree hampered by existing regulations, including by instructions of the Russian Agency for Fisheries. Pavel Orekhov asked the President to consider amending the regulations to ensure the effectiveness of the whitefish recovery programme.
The President suggested that Mr Orekhov should put together an instruction to Head of the Federal Agency for Fisheries Ilya Shestakov, and promised to sign it. He added that he hoped the solution to this issue would be found.)
Andrei Brovin: Allow me to continue on the subject of regulations, but this time in experimental medicine.
My name is Andrei Brovin, and I am a postgraduate student at Sirius University, and a junior research fellow in Gene Therapy. I work on large DNA fragments transfer to treat various forms of hereditary blindness. Earlier, these diseases were considered incurable, but genetic and biotechnological breakthroughs are already giving such difficult patients a chance to restore vision. Our foreign colleagues lead the way in this area.
Vladimir Putin: To people outside this field, this sounds like science fiction. We are talking about people who are blind from an early age, right?
Andrei Brovin: These are progressive conditions that are genetical inherited.
Vladimir Putin: Meaning that the person will inevitably become blind.
Andrei Brovin: Yes, inevitably. Still, there is a chance to restore their vision at least to a degree…
Vladimir Putin: You are working on setting right such hopeless cases that are programmed by nature?
Andrei Brovin: Yes, absolutely. Allow me to turn to the measures that need to be implemented.
Abroad, there are dozens of new gene therapy treatments, to a great extent thanks to special regulations that allow the use of experimental practices to treat hereditary illnesses. These modalities are used at special university clinics with patients under the supervision of doctors who specialise in genetics and biology, and they have helped save the lives of many severely ill patients.
We hope to replicate this in Russia, especially given that there are a number of centres available. One such centre, as you have seen, is Sirius, another is the Dmitry Rogachyov Centre, where we can produce the latest drugs, but we still cannot use them because under Russian law, only drugs made out of industrially produced substances can be used, which is impossible in the case of nearly individual genetic mutations.
We ask you to give instructions to develop regulations that would permit the use of cutting-edge therapy drugs to treat patients where no alternative treatment exists. We could begin with the Sirius Federal Territory because of the most favourable conditions here for experimental regulatory frameworks, several novel drugs are available for testing and there are plans to build a university clinic. Afterwards, this experience can be taken to the nationwide level.
Vladimir Putin: So you are talking about an experimental legal regime.
Andrei Brovin: Yes, this is about an experimental permission to produce low quantities of drugs to treat individual patients with such diseases.
Vladimir Putin: At first glance, I think we should do it. I cannot make the final decision now, of course. But I do not see why there should be restrictions based on mass production put in place where there can be no mass production, because this is about individual cases. I do not think there are many people suffering from such conditions. Treatments for them cannot be and need not be produced on an industrial scale.
I will definitely talk to Ms Golikova and I hope she will give her support. We will discuss this with the leadership of Sirius, the Government and the Health Ministry. I think it can be done. We will work on it.
Andrei Ivanov: I head the Irkutsk Institute of Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Science’s Siberian Branch.
I would like to change the topic of our conversation to technological sovereignty.
Our chemical and related industries are suffering from a lack of a significant number of base chemical reagents, almost all of which are on sanction lists. Unfortunately, a lot of them are not produced in Russia.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade has clear solutions for those of them that are used in large amounts, such as tens or hundreds of thousands of tonnes. For instance, our institute is part of the project to establish the Federal Centre of Chemistry in Usolye-Sibirskoye. You know about this town, of course. There, under your leadership, accumulated environmental damage is being cleaned up and at the same time a new economic nucleus is being established to produce in-demand chemicals in a safe and environmentally-friendly way.
However, there is also a segment called ‘low-tonnage chemistry’ that includes tens of thousands of substances used in quantities of about 100 kg to 1 tonne per year. The issue is that it is not a lucrative segment. You cannot build a prosperous business there. For that reason, these substances have not been produced in Russia, which has relied on imports instead. Nevertheless, this segment is of critical importance.
On the other hand, most chemical institutes and universities have expertise and competencies for pilot projects to produce low quantities of such substances. We have been using those. From our experience, again, we developed our own trademark plasticising agent for nuclear fuel, of which we have since been producing 15 tonnes each year to fully meet the demand of the Russian nuclear industry.
My proposal is that this experiment-based solution can be used to completely resolve the shortage of low-tonnage chemicals.
Naturally, we will need equipment, but this can easily be included into the Science and University national project. It can be implemented through a targeted subsidy on particular substances from those on the sanction list that a particular research centre would agree to develop in accordance with the Ministry of Industry and Trade. That centre will then get a grant to purchase the necessary equipment, and will launch production, say, within a year, while undertaking to produce no less than what Russia needs and to sell it at cost price.
I think it would greatly mobilise our science to help our country. Besides, it would develop our research institutions and their infrastructure. This also seems like a one-for-all solution because appliance manufacturers, physicists and others can use this scheme along with chemists.
What is also important is that this is a flexible solution. Besides import substitution, we could use this equipment to test our own and completely novel ideas.
So, I ask you to support this proposal because it is clear how it can be implemented.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Ivanov, I see that your proposal is dictated by our present circumstances. I think there were many issues with these reagents in the past, and there are now many more. Therefore, I will definitely give relevant instructions to the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, and I hope we will find a solution. I do not think that the subsidy in question is really that big, at least to produce low-tonnage chemicals. We will work this out.
Igor Poznyak: I work at Rosatom. Rosatom is taking an active part in creating science centres all across Russia, such as the National Centre for Physics and Mathematics in Sarov; the Troitsk Institute of Innovative and Thermonuclear Research in New Moscow, where I work; the fast-neutron reactor under construction in Dimitrovgrad, Ulyanovsk Region; and the SKIF accelerator synchrotron complex in the Novosibirsk Region.
This year we are facing new challenges, related to restrictions for our scientists when taking part in international research among other things. In this situation, the development of science centres should be made a special priority of science and technology policy, similar to import substitution programmes in other areas of the economy.
In order to prevent the outflow of valuable personnel, to attract new specialists and train them, I consider it extremely important to develop a programme for the accelerated development of Russian science centres using the existing and under-construction infrastructure of megascience facilities. Another task in this programme is to ensure the creation of training and production centres, where students – in the future they will become engineers and experimental physicists – will be able to gain hands-on experience in practical work and young scientists will be able to get the opportunity to create prototypes of their developments with a view to their subsequent implementation. Without this, it is difficult to talk about commercialising the results of scientific activity in the field of exact engineering sciences.
As an example, I can use the model of a diesel axial engine for light aircraft and UAVs, which my colleagues and I have been developing for several years. And this is not just an import-substituting innovation, but a cutting-edge engineering advancement. However, the creation of an industrial prototype is hampered by the fact that investors are not ready to invest in a project at an early stage of development. And here we cannot do without state support in the form of, for example, engineering and training centres, or training and production centres, which I mentioned.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, in fact this is venture investment. And perhaps future clients are not ready.
I would like to ask you to outline your proposals and send them to me via the Sirius management so we can have a look. Or send them to Mr Likhachev [Rosatom CEO], we will discuss them with him, that will work, too. Can you get in touch with him, or is he a big boss?
Igor Poznyak: No, we met with him this summer at the Rosatom Person of the Year awards.
Vladimir Putin: You met in the summer. We will not wait until next summer. Prepare this now and give them to me here, while you are at the congress.
Igor Poznyak: Okay, thank you.
For my part, I would also like to ask you, perhaps, to propose that the Russian Government develop this programme for the accelerated advancement of Russian science centres.
Vladimir Putin: Write it all down, because this is a good suggestion.
Igor Poznyak: Good.
Vladimir Putin: I can see where the problem is. We must dig it out, really try to push these small venture investments. The state will need them.
For example, the Ministry of Industry and Trade is trying to get the necessary funding. In this case, I am ready to support it, because a really good breakthrough can happen. Okay?
Igor Poznyak: Yes, of course.
Vladimir Putin: Outline this right here, it's just one page. I will have an opportunity to talk to my colleagues.
Ivan Poznyak: Okay, thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Okay? Do you need a lot of time to prepare it all?
Ivan Poznyak: We will try to work it out in the coming week.
Vladimir Putin: A week! Do it today or tomorrow.
Ivan Poznyak: Well, the night is long.
Vladimir Putin: Will you write one letter a day, or what?
Ivan Poznyak: Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Do it today or tomorrow, please, and give it to Ms Shmeleva [head of the Talent and Success Foundation].
Ivan Poznyak: Yes, okay.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.
Ivan Poznyak: Thank you.
(The President also discussed several other proposals from meeting participants and promised his support. Olga Moskalyuk, head of the Polymer and Composite Materials Laboratory from Immanuel Kant University in Kaliningrad, suggested considering options for increasing investment in support of high-tech projects for young scientists and students. Proposals by Natalya Altynnik from Shukhov State Technological University in Belgorod concern the creation of scientific playgrounds to develop and implement interactive systems for a child to learn basic scientific principles. Nadezhda Zvartau from the Almazov National Medical Research Centre in St Petersburg asked for support to include various inclusive research projects for children and young people with disabilities in the plan for the Decade of Science and Technology. Yevgenia Dolgova of the Russian State University for the Humanities drew attention to the importance of the study and history of science and suggested setting up a network of centres for science studies where historians, sociologists and philosophers of science could work, which would help expand the discipline. Inna Shevchenko, Rector of Southern Federal University, supported capturing the interest of students and scientists in the history of science. She suggested that such initiatives be included in the list of activities for the Decade of Science and Technology.)
Konstantin Vernigorov: I have engaged in developing petrochemical industry products and processes for the petrochemical company SIBUR for about 10 years now.
The industry I am working in is no exception in the sense that international partnerships with Europe and the United States that had been in existence for decades are no longer operating effectively and, as a matter of fact, no longer exist. No doubt, we are trying to adapt to this state of affairs and are learning to overcome these difficulties on a case-by-case and a system-wide basis by working more closely with the domestic science. But, as you have said, the world is and will remain global, and we are concurrently developing science- and technology-based partnerships – this time on a totally different level – with China, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.
As we work systemically with our colleagues from the science field, we see that the situation with international partnerships in science and education is similar and our colleagues, just like us, are looking for new effective channels of international cooperation.
But the situation is unusual in the sense that business and science are moving along parallel trajectories and do not share their experiences, expertise or best practices on a systemic basis. In other words, there is no single strategy, there are no mechanisms for forming these international science- and technology-based partnerships in order to boost their efficiency and utility for business and science alike, that is, to achieve synergy.
In this regard, I would like to ask you to instruct the commission for scientific and technological development to work through such mechanisms and principles with the involvement of ministries, leading research organisations and manufacturing companies that are critical to the economy.
This is a request that comes with a question. Mr President, I would really like to hear your thoughts about what we should all be doing differently now to line up a global international agenda in scientific research, technology and education?
Vladimir Putin: SIBUR is one of the most high-tech companies in the industry and beyond. I am aware that the company's management pays a great deal of attention to this and is successful in this regard. I have continued to wonder: how do they do it? Clearly, specialists like you, Mr Vernigorov are part of the answer. Indeed, the latest and most advanced technological processes are being used (I am not going to list them, since you know more about this than I do) in drilling, exploration and various surveys, as well as upstream and downstream operations. There are many areas using breakthroughs of the highest level and class with excellent results.
You should continue doing what you have been doing so far. Keep doing it. You have said it all, in fact. You are looking for other partners. I am aware that some companies are leaving, others are trying to stay, and still others are trying to take the place of the outgoing companies. Before leaving, some companies transfer multi-billion or multi-million dollar assets to the management for a token price of one dollar, clearly hoping to return some day, and conclude safeguard agreements. We see everything that is going on. So, the company keeps operating successfully. I am sure that despite scheming detractors out there, the entire industry and your company will continue to work successfully. There is no doubt about it.
SIBUR is the largest taxpayer in some countries due to the scale of its operations.
You have everything built and in place. I understand there may be certain difficulties, given the circumstances at hand. I am even aware of some of them, but we are not going to discuss them now. The industry and the company are in the process of overcoming them. So, what can I say? Keep up the good work.
We will include the commission on scientific and technological development in this work, as requested.
Konstantin Vernigorov: Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
Is that everything?
Thank you very much. I am not sure about you, but I enjoyed listening to what you had to say. You know, above all, it was interesting to sense your commitment to interesting, meaningful and promising work and to learn about your ideas regarding various areas of your activities.
What you told us and what you are doing, including the work of your colleagues from the scientific and educational community, will lead to the success of Russian science, hence, the economy, industry, and the social sphere. And this is what will make our entire country, Russia, successful.
Thank you very much. I wish you every success in your congress activities and your work. Thank you for the ideas you have proposed. We will try to work on all of them and achieve the results we all need.