Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, colleagues,
I want to say a few words at the start of our meeting today. First of all, it is very interesting to have this chance to meet with you, the winners of the first tender for research and development grants.
The idea of offering grants to attract leading scientists from abroad to our universities and creating opportunities for our own scientists’ academic mobility appealed to me right from the start, right from the moment that I first discussed it a bit more than a year ago with Education and Science Minister Andrei Fursenko. I even remember exactly when and where this discussion took place.
Now the idea has become reality, and this of course makes me very happy. We put considerable organisational effort into it, and what for our country is substantial money too. We plan to spend 12 billion rubles (more than $420 million) over the next few years. Frankly, I really hope we achieve some results.
Most of you have already started your work in the new laboratories set up at universities in Moscow, St Petersburg, Vladivostok, Krasnoyarsk, and several other cities. I want to say from the outset that I have every interest in ensuring that these universities offer decent working conditions. I imagine that today there are still improvements to be made, but we are fully intent on doing everything necessary to ensure that our scientists and their colleagues from abroad have the conditions that will allow them to be as productive as possible. This will at the same time create better opportunities for exchanging and commercialising ideas, getting them used in production, and developing modern, high-technology business.
We are carrying out projects of this kind right now, and we have a number of new programmes in place too. We are building the infrastructure for supporting new research and development and its subsequent commercialisation. In this context, I hope that your work will also create new success stories, and I count on the Government doing everything necessary for this, and hope that the decisions we have made will have the desired effect.
Modern science does not have borders. Science never really did of course, but today we have unprecedented opportunities for communication, and our country wants to be a part of the constant circulation of ideas and wants to ensure a high level of scientific mobility, the highest level possible in the world today.
I know that the tender for obtaining these grants was broad in reach. The international evaluation took place at the highest level. I recall that last month, in mid-April, the second tender was opened, and I hope it will draw prominent scientists’ attention too.
I want to stress that we are only at the start of the road. Other countries have much experience with these kinds of grants, and this could be useful. For us this is the first such experience. This is why I wanted to meet with you and discuss what else we can do to make these grants as effective as possible and ensure the best conditions for the top-class specialists and scientists coming to work here. We realise that, unfortunately, our scientific infrastructure has not developed as rapidly as that of other countries over these last years, and we still have many problems, but this is one of the reasons why we decided it would be a good idea to establish the grants that you have received.
That is probably enough to start with. I really want to hear what you have to say, hear about not just the opportunities you have today, but also about the difficulties on which you can give us a new perspective, and which we can try to resolve.
I do not have any set agenda or list of speakers. I therefore open the floor to everyone who has something to say and will try to give you all the chance to speak. My only request is that you remember that this is not a scientific seminar but just a discussion. The floor is yours.