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The interview of A. Shumilin, Chairman of the SCST, for the newspaper "Respublika" of January 22, 2014 № 11 (5916)

The interview of A. Shumilin, Chairman of the SCST, for the newspaper "Respublika" of January 22, 2014 № 11 (5916)

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The interview of A. Shumilin, Chairman of the SCST, for the newspaper "Respublika" of January 22, 2014 № 11 (5916)

"We will earn by means of our intellect!"

The feature of measures aimed at the improvement of the innovation activities is that the result of management decisions cannot be instantaneous.

It takes time to make the proposed mechanisms to work, to develop new technologies, and to make production capacities reach the proper level.

In practice it must take a minimum of 2-3 years.

Respublika: ‘A few years passed after making the decisionsdue to which the innovative structures were established in the country, an appropriate legal framework (today there is a separate law for each area of activities related to science and innovations). Is there progress?’,such a question the columnist of the "Respublika" addressed to the Chairman of the State Committee on Science and Technology Alexander Shumilin (pictured) .

Alexander Shumilin: ‘This question is pleasure to answer, because, despite the fact that the year was difficult for the country and many of the planned economic indicators could not be performed, the situation with the innovative development is safer. The share of innovative products in the total volume of production was 18%, that is, as much as planned. The share of innovation active organizations has increased to 26%, whichalsois in line with the goal. The volume of exports of high-tech products (comparing with the plan of $ 4.8 billion) was $ 11 billion’.

Respublika: ‘11 billion?’

Alexander Shumilin: ‘11 billion. And the share of such products increased by 20% to the total volume of exports (while the plan was 11%)’.

Respublika: ‘Let's explain yet. Measures are good, but such a jerk on the background of notvery prosperous economy is intriguing’.

Alexander Shumilin: ‘We started countinghigh-tech products using the new method in 2012. The calculation is based on the list of goods assigned to this category approved by the Council of Ministers. The list was expanded, and this affected theindicator. But there is no guile. Expert boards, acting at SCST, did their work conscientiously and objectively evaluated the level of production. Everything that is related to high-technology products corresponds to the 5th and the 6th technological structures.For example, recently  a list wassupplemented with an optomechanical, monitoring and measuring assembly equipment for the microelectronics of the SSPA "Planar", optical devices of the same SSPA "Planar", the JSC "Peleng" and the JSC "Optoelectronic Systems", appliances, equipment and tools for medicine from the ALC "TahatAksi ",systems of control of technological processes of the LLC "Aquar-system" and the LLC "Electrotechnical Solutions", radio navigation equipment of the LLC "ArmprojectService", parts for aircraft and spacecraft of the JSC “Peleng”.

Indeed, all this is unique products, and since this year businesses have been actively declare their intention to include it in the list, because it gives them the right to get considerable tax breaks’.

Respublika: ‘But the technological progress keeps developing, and what looks like a high-tech product today, tomorrow will be commonplace’.

Alexander Shumilin: ‘That is why we also exclude some products from this list. The Euro-4, Euro-5, Stage-3A andStage-3B internal combustion engines  produced by the JSC "MMZ" have been recently removed from the list. The same fate befell to the large-size tires of the JSC "Belshina", loading and transport vehicles, and special purpose vehicles of the JSC“MTZ”, the JSC "MAZ", and the JSC "Amkodor"’.

Respublika: Innovations and science cannot be separated; in any case, these two areas are very dependent on the knowledge-intensity of GDP. This figure is not usually impressive. What is the level for this figureat the end of the year?’

Alexander Shumilin: ‘The expenses of the national budget for science was 0.3% to GDP in 2013 which is higher than in 2012 (0.25%). But in general, taking into account the expenditure of their own funds, the expenses on science and innovation are estimated to amount to 0.6 % to GDP, which is even lower than in 2012, when the figure was 0.67 %. Nevertheless, both are clearly insufficient. Therefore, the task we’re facing is that the expenses will be at least 1 %, and such a question is constantly brought up by usin the parliament. After all, in the world practice 2.5-3 % is a commonplace, and 3.5% is in most developed countries’.

Respublika: ‘How are the expenses for the Belarusian science covered, in accordance with your information?’

Alexander Shumilin: ‘We counted and found that today the Belarusian science brings 44 rubles of incometo 1 ruble. And we may observea good payback growth dynamics (40% compared to last year), and this figure will grow’.

Respublika: ‘Now about the program of improvement of the scientific area. How does it progress after its approval by the General Meeting of NAS of Belarus?’

Alexander Shumilin: ‘It has been also approved by the decision of the board of the SCST,and thenit’ll be approved by a joint resolution of the Presidium of NAS of Belarus and the SCST. But to make it interdepartmental, and for apply it for solution of conceptual issues that the SCST cannot solve at its level, the program must be approved by the government, as well as head of state. This, however, does not mean that we should be inactive before the program has been signed. We have already started implementing it.The scope of the program to the whole country is dictated, for example, bythe need to create a unified system of the state scientific and scientific-technical expertise. Today, expert boards are in each departmental organization, in the Academy of Sciences, and in the regions. And very often they act on the basis of departmental interests, to the detriment of the business, because they lack for autonomy in decision-making. And we offer such a principle: if you want to get budget money to fund science, you must necessarily go through a unified state examination, where experts are not homebred experts and reputable scientists, including the invited ones from abroad. In this case, to get the money for the development of the innovation which is past their prime and to pass it forthe innovation will not work’.

Respublika: ‘Our economy is still sick with a Soviet disease, which means immunity to innovations. Are there any prerequisites to ensure that the program of improvement of the scientific areareverse the situation?’

Alexander Shumilin: ‘We’ve been putting big hopes in the commercialization of science since 2014, and this will increase the interest of the real sector in the implementation of new products. For example, in our previous legislation, to use the scientific development, one should at least pay money spent on it. Sometimes these sums are big to be paid at the same time. Not every organization has such opportunities. Therefore it was decided to allow enterprises to pay that amount gradually to the owner of the technology until the novelty is used’.

Respublika: ‘I have heard that they were going to take less money for using technologies than what was spent on the creation of these technologies. The point is thatthe innovation maybe put in production’.

Alexander Shumilin: ‘There were such ideas. But, they are fraught within our system of control. If the director of the institute sold the technologies cheaper, then there is no guarantee that tomorrow supervisors will not come and say that he damaged the state and misappropriated the difference in price. Therefore, we’d better shelve the development out of harm's way.

New rules must break the deadlock, but unfortunately, they do not work so far. The point is that the decree applies only to the design created after August of 2013. Therefore the SCST suggested extending the decree standards for all developments created with the use of budget money until August, and at the same time removing the tough conditions on terms of commercialization stipulating to develop innovations. This has been already considered in the government. Indeed,the violation of tight deadlines could entail unnecessarily harsh punishments, so, managers prefer not to take risks and do not take responsibility to adopt innovations’.

Respublika: ‘It seems that we lack for a certain natural ease for the innovation process. We have literally to push all reasonable measures overcoming the resistance’.

Alexander Shumilin: ‘The developed program of  improvement of the scientific areais aimed at making innovative development logic. Thus, venture capital funding has been started. Let's create the national laboratories, gradually increase salaries of scientists and improve the mechanism of payment of royalties.

Let’s involve young people in science by means of a package of social guarantees. Let’shelp inventors to patent their inventions using a special fund. Let’s improve the coordination of all participants of the innovation process ... This and more is provided by the program. But to anticipate all the twists and turns on the way of the development is impossible. That’s why thearea of science is doomed to eternal progression’.