TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting on financing fundamental science

File Photo of Test Tubes with Algae Displaying Different Colors, Part of U.S. Energy-Related Research; from nrel.gov

(Kremlin.ru – October 17, 2016)

Vladimir Putin met with Presidential Aide Andrei Fursenko, Education and Science Minister Olga Vasilyeva, and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov to discuss financing for fundamental scientific research.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,

Work on the 2017 federal budget and the budget plans for 2018 and 2019 is near completion now. We are here today to look at one area that we consider a priority – financing for fundamental science.

I met recently with the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and he drew my attention to a few issues and expressed some concerns.

(Addressing Presidential Aide Andrei Fursenko) At the same time, you met with the heads of laboratories that have received what have been dubbed mega-grants, and they give a high assessment of the work that has been done. Certainly, we can see that the work accomplished has produced results, but the scientists have made some proposals for further work in the most promising areas that, of course, require additional financing.

We already agreed that an additional 3.5 billion rubles will be allocated in 2017, and today we will discuss where this funding will come from.

I also ask the Finance Minister to brief us on how the discussion is going with the Academy of Sciences on financing for the Academy’s routine activities and on funds allocated for scientific research.

Mr Fursenko will now say a few words about the priority work areas we agreed on with the grant recipients.

Presidential Aide Andrei Fursenko: May I begin?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, go ahead please.

Andrei Fursenko: Mr President, we met with these people, and they are indeed working in the most promising areas. Their work is linked with information technology, biology and genetics. And they spoke exactly about two things: first, what areas it would be interesting to deal with in the first place, and, second, what instruments should be used for this purpose.

They paid special attention to the need to support special research-related infrastructure and the importance of ensuring our independence. This involves the formation of sufficiently powerful resources on biomaterials, test animals and the like, so that we have an opportunity to conduct full-fledged and full-scale research without depending on some supplied materials.

After the conversation with our colleagues, we singled out three pilot areas, first of all, genetic research in the interests of medicine and agriculture. Then there is information technology in quantum calculations. Today this is a very promising area that makes it possible to ensure an absolutely new quality of information transfer, calculations and processing of big data, which is important for medicine, epidemiological control and a switch to personalised medicine. In other words, all this is again aimed at improving the quality of life in the interests of people. And, finally the third area is research to develop nature-friendly technology – devices, including computers that use very little energy, new zero-waste production lines and new approaches to storing and transferring energy.

Several instruments have been suggested for these areas. First, as I have already said, this is powerful support for the formation of shared knowledge centres and new modern laboratories that will attract scientists not only from Russia but also from abroad. Permanent positions must be created for them. This is also support for the young scientists who have just risen to prominence. They should not just be given scholarships but should have an opportunity to make new teams and maybe open new laboratories.

There was a proposal to use the mechanism of the Russian Science Foundation for implementing these projects. It has won good reputation in the scientific community, the Academy of Sciences and these researchers. If additional money is allocated, we will be ready to suggest shortly new instruments and new contests and start working so as to launch this work in full swing next year.

Vladimir Putin: Settled. This is what we will do.

I assume this will be a programme and not only for 2017 but also subsequent years so that this work has a clear planning horizon. Funds for both new laboratories and already existing ones should be largely channelled via institutions of the Academy of Sciences. As for the source of funds, we will talk it over. Via the Russian Science Foundation but through the channels I have just mentioned, 3.5 billion in 2017.

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