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“Priority is an innovative development”, an article by A.G. Shumilin for "Belaruskaya Dumka" journal

“Priority is an innovative development”, an article by A.G. Shumilin for "Belaruskaya Dumka" journal

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“Priority is an innovative development”, an article by A.G. Shumilin for "Belaruskaya Dumka" journal

At present, the economic growth of countries largely depends on the creation of new innovative technologies and industries based on advanced achievements of science and technology. The strategy for the further development of the national economy is determined by the effective use of innovations for our state, which possesses a significant scientific potential and does not have a sufficient raw material base. In order to develop an innovative entrepreneurship, the innovation infrastructure entities are being actively created, including technology parks. The geography of the international scientific and technical cooperation is expanding with both new countries and strategic partners, such as Russia and China. As for plans for the future, the development of a Comprehensive Forecast of the Scientific and Technological Progress of the Republic of Belarus for 2021–2025 and for the period up to 2040 has begun to determine technological priorities. The coordinator of the innovation policy in the Republic of Belarus is the State Committee on Science and Technology. This year it marks 25 years since its foundation.

To determine the future development strategy, it is important to have an up-to-date independent assessment of the state of the innovation development. World rankings are used for these purposes. They will enable to evaluate the results and rates of the development of the country and, accordingly, determine its attractiveness for foreign investors on the basis of complex indices.
An important factor in the objectivity of international ratings is the uniformity of methods for grading all states and the recognition of these methods in the world. The participation of the Republic of Belarus in such ratings makes it possible to assess its position not only in relation to its own results of previous periods, but also relative to the results of other countries.
The ratings that most fully assess the level of development of the country for a large set of indicators include the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum and the Global Innovation Index of the INSEAD Business School (GII). Thus, in the GII rating of 2018, Belarus ranked 86th, which is two positions higher than in 2017. The State Committee on Science and Technology identified the strong and weak positions of the country profile and updated the Action Plan to improve the performance of the Republic of Belarus in the GII. The implementation of the Plan made it possible to stop the decline in this index and ensure its growth for our country and increase the level of the development of the innovation sector and attractiveness for foreign investors.
Currently, the strategies and programs of the scientific and technological development in our country are aimed at supporting innovation and improving business conditions. The greatest attention is paid to high technologies and production, based on the developments of the 5th and 6th technological structures. The level of achievements of domestic scientists in various fields of the fundamental and applied science is evidenced by the fact that every year we create from three to five world-class innovations. The most significant include:

  • a test system, which enables to determine the concentration of oncogene protein in the samples of the studied tissue in real time;
  • artificial heart valves, but at the same time costing 5 times less than foreign analogues;
  • stem cell treatment technologies that provide healing human trophic ulcers that cannot be cured by traditional methods of treatment;
  • an atomic force microscope with software that enables measurements of the micromechanical properties of materials and microorganisms at the nano level;
  • an environmentally friendly microfertilizer “Nanoplant” based on nanoparticles of microelements, which increases the yield by 2-3 times, ensures quick germination of seedlings, improves soil fertility, stops erosion, removes remnants of heavy metals and chemical fertilizers, enriches and revives the soil;
  • a creation of the world's first heavy-duty dump truck BelAZ-75710 with a lifting capacity of 450 tons, which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records;
  • the development of the E433 Vitovt Max Electro electric bus, the main distinguishing features of which are an advanced system of electric energy accumulators based on supercapacitors and improved consumer properties in comparison with foreign analogues.

Already, we are developing and can supply abroad microelectronics for various industries, a special technological equipment for radio electronics, an optical laser medical equipment and means of communication.
Recently, information and communication technologies are developed at a faster pace, which enabled the Republic of Belarus to occupy 38th place in 2018 and enter the top 40 countries of the E-Government Development Index in the UN ranking.

Technology Parks as a Basis for an Innovation Infrastructure

Today, one of the main levers of commercialization of scientific and technological achievements and the development of a small innovative entrepreneurship, as shown by the analysis of world markets, is an innovation infrastructure, including a set of educational institutions, investment funds, production facilities, public and private enterprises involved in the development and implementation of new technologies. One of the important structural components of the innovation infrastructure is technology parks.
The most famous technology park in the world, operating at Stanford University in the USA, is Silicon Valley. Over 200 companies work there. As statistics show, about 20% of all start-ups in the field of radio electronics and IT are traditionally born there. Recently technology parks have been developed intensively all over the world. They are very actively being created in the CIS countries and first of all in Russia. The Republic of Belarus does not remain aloof from the global trends. Only in 2017, four new technology parks were registered in our country. Their network currently covers all regional centers without exception, as well as the Belarusian capital. The work on the  creation of  technology parks in the regions, primarily in large regional centers, is underway. Such innovative structures are already operating in Pinsk, Novopolotsk and Gorki.
The correctness of decisions made at the state level to build a developed innovation infrastructure is confirmed by the activities of the HTP, which was established in 2005, and today it produces and exports IT services for more than 1 billion USD.
In recent years, a special attention is paid to the creation and operation of technology parks in Belarus. In order to stimulate their activities by the state on an ongoing basis, measures are being taken to improve the system of benefits and preferences provided for technology parks and their residents; a direct budget funding is also provided. For example, a Presidential Decree No. 105 “On Amendments of the Presidential Decree of the Republic of Belarus” was adopted on March 12, 2018 in order to improve the conditions for the creation and activities of innovation infrastructure entities. The provisions of this important document are mainly aimed at improving the conditions for the creation and functioning of technology parks, including the promotion of the activities of their residents. As a result of the implementation of this decree, technology parks have begun the formation of targeted funds for the  innovative development. Also, there is a possibility of applying a flexible rental policy for residents; the privileges for import customs duties were provided for VAT during the implementation of innovative projects under the State Innovative Development Program, etc. At the same time, trust funds formed by reinvesting up to 50% of tax deductions from technology parks and their residents should be a powerful alternative to budget subsidies in the near future, which will stimulate a flexible innovation policy in relation to a small innovative entrepreneurship.
In recent years, there has been an increase in the performance of technology parks and their contribution to the innovative development of the country as a whole. Thus, over the past five years, with a slight increase in the number of technology parks (from 12 in 2013 to 14 in 2018), the volume of products produced by their residents (including innovation ones) increased more than 3 times. The volume of taxes and fees paid by them to the state budget significantly increased. The dynamics of creation of workplaces by resident technology parks has a positive trend, as a result of which about 1,500 ones were created over 5 years. For the same period, the share of innovative products shipped in the total volume of products shipped (works and services) by resident organizations of Belarusian technology parks is 70% At the same time, the value of a similar indicator among industrial organizations in Belarus as a whole does not exceed 20%.
Thus, the measures taken by the state to develop the innovation infrastructure, in particular, to stimulate the activity of technology parks, create the prerequisites for the sustainable development of technology parks and their further transformation into innovation development centers and platforms for organizing high-tech industries.
One of the strategic documents on the implementation of innovation policy in the country is the State Innovative Development Program of the Republic of Belarus. 111 innovative projects are being implemented within this program. According to the Decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus of June 13, 2018 No.236 “On the Addition and Amendment of the Decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus”, 34 new projects are included in the list of projects on the creation of new industries that are crucial for the innovative development of our country. 9 of them are based on the technologies of the 5th and the 6th technological structures. The following projects are among the new projects:

  • a creation of modern production facilities for the production of a charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, as well as the production of automated warehouses of vertical storage of elevator type (the OJSC “Vityaz”);
  • an organization of the production of high-tech, innovative analytical and inspection complexes, optical-mechanical products of dual and special purpose (the JSC “Optoelectronic Systems”);
  • an organization of high-tech agro-industrial production of a full cycle (the CJSC “Belarusian National Biotechnology Corporation”);
  • a development of technologies, creation and organization of production of equipment for magnetic-abrasive machining of surfaces of revolution and complex shapes of machine parts and devices (the UE “Polimag”);
  • an organization of the high-tech export-oriented production of optical components and laser systems with diode pumping of a new generation (the State Research Institution “Institute of Physics named after B. Stepanov);
  • a mastering of the mass production of new types of optical products (the CJSC “Aeromash Group of Production Technologies and Aircraft Engineering”);
  • an organization of the production of precision self-centering turning chucks of various diameters for a high-tech metalworking equipment (the OJSC “Baranovichi Machine Tool Accessories Plant”);
  • the creation of a modern production of automotive components of a higher technical level for passenger and commercial vehicles (OJSC “Belcard”).

The implementation of projects of the 5th and 6th technological structures will make it possible to a large extent to accomplish the task set by the country's leadership in building an intellectual economy and to create the necessary groundwork for improving its efficiency.

Vector of the International Cooperation

The Republic of Belarus is a country with an open economy; therefore, it is especially important for us to include the international division of labor in the chains and to expand the international cooperation. Every year, the SCST holds about 10 international contests of joint scientific and technical projects with different states. In 2018, six contests of joint projects with Lithuania, Armenia, Moldova, Latvia, India, and China have already been held. We are now accepting applications for participation with Ukraine, Vietnam and Uzbekistan. Agreements on holding contests with Germany, Slovakia, Israel and an additional contest with China have been reached in the near future.
Over the past three years, joint scientific and technical projects have been launched for the first time with such countries as Korea, Serbia, Pakistan, Mongolia, Cuba and Azerbaijan. At the same time, our main strategic partners in implementing joint innovative high-tech projects are primarily Russia and China.
The Treaty on the Establishment of the Union State and the Action Program of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation on the implementation of the provisions of the Treaty on the Establishment of the Union State were signed nineteen years ago, on December 8, 1999. These documents opened the way to a qualitatively new level of a unity between our two fraternal countries and peoples.
The main goal of the integration of national innovation systems within the Union State is the creation of a unified scientific and technological space (SSTS). The basis of the formation of the SSTS is scientific and technical programs of the Union State. Since its formation, more than 50 union programs have already been implemented. This year eight programs are implemented. Today the Union State is the most effective tool for a scientific and technical cooperation, each program is aimed at creating an innovative product. For example, it is expected to develop the equipment for the production technology of composite materials for the rocket-space engineering; special sensors for space technology products; a space-based scanning telescope for a small spacecraft; monolithic integrated circuit heterostructures within the program “Development of Complex Technologies for Creating Materials, Devices and Key Components of Space Means and Promising Products of Other Industries” (the code “Technology-US” 2016–2020).
According to the results of the implementation of the program “Development of New Spinal Systems Using Prototyping Technologies in the Surgical Treatment of Children with Severe Congenital Deformities and Spinal Injuries” (the code “Spinal systems”). It is expected that the introduction of developed new spinal systems and surgical technologies into a practical health care will significantly improve the results of the medical rehabilitation of children with severe congenital deformities and spinal injuries, reduce the material costs for the treatment of them by 3-4 times and timing of hospital treatment by 1,5-2 times. All this will reduce the level of childhood disability and improve the quality of life of patients. There is not only an economic, but also a social effect.
The program “Development of Innovative Geno-Geographical and Genomic Technologies for the Identification of Individuals and Individual Characteristics of a Person Based on the Study of Gene Pools of the Union State” (the code “DNA Identification”). As a result, we will be able to predict the occurrence and development of a number of diseases.
In 2018, the program “Development of Innovative Energy-Saving Technologies and Equipment for the Production and Effective Use of Bio-Safe Feeds for Valuable Species of Fish, Fur-Bearing Animals and Certain Animal Species” (the code “Combined Feed-SG”) was launched. As a result of its implementation, it is expected to reduce the dependence on the imported equipment, and by improving the quality of feed, we can increase the gain in fish and fur animals by 10-17%. A whole series of new programs of the Union State aimed at creating and introducing mobile fiber optic locators, sensor systems, microchip design and production systems, technologies of highly productive agriculture, as well as developments in the field of additive technologies and the production of modern 3D printers into production are being developed.
The State Committee on Science and Technology has systematically organized an active work on the development of the cooperation in the field of science and technology with the People's Republic of China.
11 meetings of the Belarusian-Chinese Intergovernmental Commission on Cooperation in the Field of Science and Technology have already been held within the Agreement between the Government of Belarus and the Government of China of April 24, 1992.
Over the past two years, the number of joint projects implemented jointly with Chinese partners has increased by 30% compared with the previous period.  
One of the bright examples of the joint fruitful work is the Chinese-Belarusian industrial park “Velikiy Kamenh”. It is expected to concentrate innovative enterprises there. For example, in January 2018, the Research and Production LLC “Composite Constructions” was registered as a resident of the “Velikiy Kamenh” park with the participation of the State Committee on Science and Technology. The scientists and specialists of BSTU in the field of polymer composite materials were involved in its work. The joint Chinese-Belarusian CJSC “Aviation Technologies and Complexes” was established in April 2018. It was registered as a resident in the Industrial Park “Velikiy Kamenh”. Its main activity is the joint development, production and sale of unmanned aircraft systems for various purposes. The result of this work should be modern models of the aviation engineering, including unmanned aircraft systems with a vertical take-off / landing unmanned aerial vehicles, aircraft engines, simulators, training devices, flight control systems, communication and data transmission systems, aviation electronics products. The executors are the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus and the AVIC company.
I also note that in September 2018, the second meeting of the Commission for Scientific and Technical Cooperation of the Belarusian-Chinese Intergovernmental Committee on Cooperation was held in Beijing, which resulted in the adoption of a strategic program for 2019-2020. It includes promising Belarusian-Chinese projects aimed at the development of the joint infrastructure and the creation joint ventures, including:

  • enterprises for the production of equipment for the use in solar energy at the Chinese-Belarusian industrial park “Velikiy Kamenh” with the Chinese corporation Hanergy Holding Group Ltd .;
  • the Chinese-Belarusian center of cooperation in the field of transformation of scientific and technological achievements within the Chinese-Belarusian industrial park “Velikiy Kamenh”;
  • the Chinese-Belarusian Center for Incubating Innovation Projects between NRUE “Scientific and Technological Park of BNTU “Polytechnic” and the Scientific and Technological Park of Shanghai University.

This is an area no less important for our country and Europe. So, the Institute of Physics named after B. Stepanov by the decision of the European Commission in September 2018 was included in the consortium for the implementation of the PhoG project “Sub-Poisson photon cannon based on coherent diffusion photonics”, coordinated by the oldest University of St Andrews of Scotland. The consortium also includes research teams from the German University of Paderborn (Paderborn University), the Scottish University Heriot-Watt (Heriot-Watt University), and the Center for Electronics and Microtechnics (CSEM - Center suisse d’electronique et de microtechnique), located in Switzerland. This project is a part of a new EU technology initiative, the so-called flagship initiative “Quantum Technologies”. It should be noted that in the second similar mega-program “Graphene” Belarus is represented by the Institute of Nuclear Problems of the Belarusian State University.
The program “Horizon 2020” involved also innovative enterprises of the country. Thus, in the MESMERISE project, the Belarusian Unitary Enterprise “ADANI” participates in the development and testing of a non-intrusive scanner with high resolution and unique properties that will make it possible to recognize chemicals and objects hidden in the human body, to reveal “other anomalies” of 100 years and more. Besides the Belarusian partner, the consortium includes 10 more organizations representing Spain, France, Great Britain, Romania, Germany and Norway. In total, 34 projects were implemented with the participation of Belarusian scientists with a total financing of their work in the amount of over 6 million euros in the program “Horizon 2020” in 2018.
Another indicator of the innovative development is the indicators of the National Contest of Innovative Projects, which the SCST has been holding since 2010. This is, in fact, the main competition of our country to identify and promote young, talented and promising specialists in the field of innovation. Its winners have the opportunity to receive financial support for the implementation of innovative projects, as well as commercialize the results of their research activities. The contest also contributes to informing potential investors and consumers about promising innovative developments of the participants and promoting innovative projects.
Over the past years, the number of applications submitted by young people to participate in the National Contest of Innovative Projects has steadily increased. In 2017, 178 applications were received (in 2016 - 102), including in the nomination “The Best Innovative Project” - 70, in the nomination “The Best Youth Innovation Project” - 108. In 2018, more than 200 applications were submitted by young researchers. By the way, this year the process of selecting project applications for participation in the contest has been improved. It is not enough for applicants to have only an idea, even if it is on paper. The National Contest assumes the existence of a thoroughly elaborated strategy for the further commercialization of the project.
Therefore, in 2018, the contest's working group selected and enabled to participate 151 applications, including in the nomination “The Best Innovative Project” (60) and in the nomination “The Best Youth Innovative Project” (91). This decision is due to the importance of a qualitative growth of participants, not quantitative one, so that the winners of the contest could start implementing their developments immediately after its completion. Within the contest, the possibility of further commercialization of the best innovative projects was implemented by obtaining a certificate worth 14.2 thousand rubles, which enables the most promising high-tech developments to be introduced into the Belarusian economy.

Scientifically Based Forecasting System

In order to move on, it is important to determine priorities. On the basis of the Law of January 19, 1993 no. 2105-XII “On the Basics of the State Scientific and Technical Policy”, the SCST began to develop a Comprehensive Forecast of the Scientific and Technological Progress of the Republic of Belarus for 2021-2025 and for the period until 2040 (CF STP). We are going to receive the first version of the CF NTP by the end of 2018. At this stage, the base of objects of forecasting (innovative technologies, product groups, goods and services) is collected and includes more than 600 objects. Already the first stages of forecasting revealed the following development priorities (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Planned priorities for the technological development of the Republic of Belarus

Figure 1. Planned priorities for the technological development of the Republic of Belarus

In the field of Information and Communication Technology:

  • a development of domain-specific ICT: from e-government to digital state;
  • a development of information and analytical systems for a decision-making support by managers and specialists of industrial enterprises in the context of information uncertainty and risk (by industry);
  •  a data processing systems (BigData), including those based on cloud technologies;
  • a use of cloud technologies (a cloud computing) in the educational process.
  • In the area of robotization and mechatronics:
  • a creation of medical robots (surgical, assistant robots for bedridden patients and people with disabilities);
  • an introduction of a VAC system with consumables for the treatment of wounds with a negative pressure;
  • a creation of a robotic intratubal complex for repairing long-running pipelines with the possibility of applying an internal smooth coating.

In the area of Energy of the Future:

  • new heat-conducting and electrical insulating materials, physical effects to reduce energy losses during its transmission;
  • integrated systems using solar and wind energy, heat generated by industrial productions and human waste, biofuels;
  • solid-state (non-electrochemical) energy storage devices;
  • in nuclear power - the increase of the control over technological processes and the operational safety.

In the area of Space systems and unmanned technical systems:

  • systems for diagnosing and monitoring the state of transport infrastructure based on satellite technologies;
  • air start systems for launching nanosatellites and microsatellites (weighing up to 20 kg);
  • a creation of an unmanned remote sensing complex for an automated survey of earth covers in a wide range of spectral channels, intended for the use in a number of industries (forestry and agriculture, environmental organizations and emergency situations ministry).

In the area of Nanoindustry:

  • textile nanomaterials with desired properties and textiles made from them for medical and sanitary purposes;
  • textile yarns, fabrics and products from them with enhanced antistatic and / or shielding properties;
  • production technologies of nano-modified additives for concrete and the industrial use of them in the construction of buildings and structures;
  • production technologies of nanostructured protective coatings for a seed material.

In the area of Bioindustry:

  • a creation of functional and specialized foods based on the principles of food combinatorics;
  • a creation of biological prostheses of blood vessels;
  • a use of cellular technologies for the restoration of damaged organs and tissues;
  • a production of biofuels of the second and third generation.

In the area of Additive Technology:

  • a development of specialized and therapeutic nutrition products based on additive technologies;
  • a development of the technology of industrial additive manufacturing of parts from alloys based on aluminum and from materials for joint prosthetics and for dentistry;
  • a development of technological solutions for the widespread introduction of 4D printing;
  • a development of components for mixtures used in food 3D printers.

In the area of Compositional and “Smart” Materials:

  • a development and a mastering of the production of composite materials at enterprises in various sectors of the economy with the use of all modern technologies known and used in world practice;
  • a creation of technologies for the production of biocidal, antioxidant and other types of packaging that actively protect food from spoilage;
  • a development of light metal structures from high-strength steels.

In the area of Ecology and Rational Environmental Management:

  • a development of new technological processes for a deep processing of heavy oil feedstock;
  • obtaining of technologies for rewilding extinct species of animals and plants;
  • a production of filtering and sorption loads from metallurgical slag for the purification of natural and waste waters;
  • a study of the possibility of obtaining multi-purpose composite materials based on clay-salt slimes (waste products of the potash industry of OJSC “Belaruskaliy”) for the use in a nuclear power engineering and agriculture.

CF STP will serve as baseline data for the planning of the social and economic development of the country (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. Development of a comprehensive forecast of scientific and technological progress of the Republic of Belarus

Figure 2. Development of a comprehensive forecast of scientific and technological progress of the Republic of Belarus

Depending on the scenario, it will be possible to determine, which technologies, product groups and innovation products are subject to investing and in which volume, based on the existing economic resources (means), and  the rating of objects of forecasting formed in the CF STP.
In summary, it can be confirmed that the whole innovation system of the country has passed a long and serious process of formation and has become quite effective. However, as any system, which is being developed, it requires improvement based on the new challenges of a rapidly changing modern world and the technological development.
It will be provided an achievement of five-year indicators of the innovation development of the Republic of Belarus laid down in the Decree of the President of Belarus of January 31, 2017 no. 31 as a result of the coordinated work of the State Committee on Science and Technology with the national and local bodies of the state administration, the real economy sector and the business. By 2020, it is expected to create more than 70 high-yielding export-oriented productions and more than 10 thousand new high-performance workplaces. Exports of science-intensive and high-tech products in the total volume of Belarusian deliveries abroad will amount to 33.0%. The share of shipped innovative products in the total volume of production will be 21.5%. A development of CF STP will clearly determine the technology priorities of the Republic of Belarus until 2025 and put them into the basis for the preparation of program documents for the next five years.
Ultimately, this will help to build a knowledge-based economy and solve the problems of achieving the GDP at the level of 100 billion dollars by 2025 in Belarus, the creation of new jobs and a significant increase in the standard of living of the population.