Steps Into the Future
Belarusian and Russian scientists and manufacturers are working on about 40 joint sci-tech programs and projects
Belarusian and Russian scientists and manufacturers are working on about 40 joint sci-tech programs and projects
Payoffs Above All
The key challenge today is to get maximum payoffs from the Union State programs, emphasized the Union State Council of Ministers at a session in Moscow. This can be achieved by implementing joint programs and re-focusing on the innovative projects. Research centers, engineering companies, and
Some of the programs and projects have been discussed at the recent session of the Union State Council of Ministers in Moscow in august. the key area of attention was, naturally, economy. of course, it is impossible to overestimate the importance of historical, geographical and other factors in the integration of the two states, but they cannot be compared to cooperation mechanisms that only the Union State can boast. the Belarus-russia joint action plan to mitigate the impact of the global financial and economic crisis is a case in point. this program is credited for giving a powerful boost to the bilateral trade. in 2010 it totaled $28 billion, up 18.9% over 2009 when the trade shrank from $34 billion to $23.4 billion. While russia’s export to Belarus which is dominated by energy products and raw materials expanded by 8%, the import from Belarus soared by 46.1% due to supplies of machines, equipment and foodstuffs. the supplies of machinery, equipment and vehicles rose by over 50%. however, russia’s industry benefited from that, too, as Belarus’ industrial giants MAZ, Belaz, and Minsk Motor Works increased the purchase of russian materials and component parts.
industrial enterprises should unite their efforts to form a single sci-tech space in the Union State.
At present, over ten new Union State programs have been prepared. The bulk of them are now undergoing domestic approval procedures in the two countries. One of them is “Standardization SG” set to run in 2011-2014. The program envisages the formation of an integrated system to standardize and certify spacecrafts and technologies. The relevant legal framework will be brought in compliance with international standards, while the organizational framework will secure the proper maintenance and regulatory control over the execution of joint space projects.
The experts are convinced that this will advance joint space projects and expand the export of the related services. Verification of conformity is essential for the successful commissioning and operation of the Belarus-russia Earth remote sensing devices.
Estimates have revealed that the economic benefits from standardization are equal to about 1% of the country’s GDP. Taking into consideration the scale of the standards developed by the Union State, the implementation of one state standard will generate nearly $1.5 million.
Another Union State program, “Promising semiconductor heterostructures and devices (Pramen)”, envisages the development and application of the most advanced semiconductor devices based on heterostructures. Semiconductor heterostructures are the basic material for making state-of-the-art electronic devices. They find extensive use in the manufacturing industry, communications, power engineering, municipal services, medicine,
transport and the production of special-purpose devices.
As is known, the Belarusian government has approved this project in June this year. It was top on the agenda of the August session of the Union State Council of Ministers. However, recent years have seen a setback in the development of semiconductor nano-electronics both in Belarus and Russia because of the lack of the necessary technologies. The program envisages the development of modern microwave transistors, lasers, and promising technologies, which will give a powerful impetus to promoting microelectronics, optronics and microwave electronics. The program is expected to ramp up comprehensive cooperation between Belarusian and Russian scientific organizations in order to create cutting-edge semiconducting solutions based on microwave devices. The program will set a foundation for starting import-substituting production, including joint ventures.
On the part of Belarus, the products stipulated by the program will be designed and meant for BELOMO – Vavilov Minsk Mechanical Plant, private company LEMT, Peleng, Belaruskali, Solar-ls, Belarusian State University, and B.I. Stepanov Physics Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.
Belarus and Russia possess enough potential for the industrial and scientific integration in microelectronics. Therefore, a joint corporation in this field may become a reality in the near future.
Belarus and Russia will proceed with joint projects in supercomputer technologies, including the SKIF-SOYUZ program. The program is aimed to develop and commercialize service-oriented science-intensive technologies based on promising supercomputer platforms. The program is designed for creation and experimental operation of a high-performance information and computing space technology in the Union State, and development of experimental modules and units for high-performance SKIF computing systems of the “fifth paradigm model”, the specialists explained.
The SKIF NEDRA draft program is aimed to enhance the energy security of the Union State by developing and utilizing high capacity information technologies that can be useful in geological exploration and mining.
Belarusian and Russian scientists are working on a unique biotechnology. A total of Br1.5 billion has been allocated for the Belarusian part of the joint program in dairy industry waste processing. The program is designed to run till 2012. The Institute of Meat and Dairy Industry at the Research Center for Foodstuffs of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus (NASB) is in charge of the development of resource-saving equipment. This is just one of many joint projects in agriculture.
As part of the program, the Institute has designed advanced equipment for processing whey, which is now being introduced into industrial production. According to deputy director for research of the Institute Oleg Dymar, the Union State project was launched a year ago. The main priorities include the development of new machines for the production of beverages and
pastelike products based on whey, manufacture of dry concentrate milk fat and whole milk substitutes based on it, and, most importantly, development of manufacturing methods of waste-free separation of raw milk. The program is carried out in cooperation with Russian experts.
Other joint projects in agriculture and, in particular, in biotechnology, include the program Belrostransgen-2 for 2009-2013. According to first deputy director general of the Research Center for Animal Breeding of the NASB Academician Ivan Sheiko, this program opens up a new era in the pharmaceutical industry – the use of animals-producers. Its goal is to develop technologies to produce a new generation of medicines and foodstuffs, and start up pilot plants. Work on the Belarusian part of the program is executed by the biotech center at the Research Center for Animal Breeding.
Lactoferrin will undoubtedly be one of the most popular drugs in the 21st century. For several years Belarusian and Russian scientists have been working on this multifunctional protein that has anticancer, anti-allergic and antibacterial properties. They managed to breed the world’s first animal with a built-in gene of human lactoferrin.
Now several transgenic goats live at the farm near Zhodino. Scientists call them “bioreactors” and consider them almost as saviors of humanity. By the way, except for a strip on the collar, they are no different from ordinary local goats: they eat beets and carrots, hay and mixed feed, and, of course, vitamins. Yet, the scientific and industrial potential of the unusual goats is worthy of a fiction novel. The cost of one gram of the drug reaches $2,000 to $3,000.
Human lactoferrin is a natural antibiotic, the maximum amount of which can be found in the milk of nursing mothers. It provides antibacterial protection to an infant who does not have its own immunity. Maternal lactoferrin supports weak immunity of an infant. But now children often grow up on artificial feeding and, as a result, they get sick a lot. In this situation, transgenic goat milk will be the first choice for babies. This product is also recommended for adults with weakened immune systems. You can extract pure lactoferrin from it and make unique protein-based ointments and various kinds of drugs, including anti-cancer drugs, food additives, and even cosmetics.
This is a real breakthrough in science. One liter of “live” goat’s milk contains up to five grams of human lactoferrin. Today a variety of the substance has already been created in several countries, but only in Zhodino they obtain highquality active protein from goats. Thus, the Dutch have bred the transgenic cows but the percentage of lactoferrin in their milk is very low. American and Japanese scientists have received the substance from rice but the “vegetable” protein is not soluble in water. It is also grown in bacteria, but it is impossible to purify the protein 100%. In addition, many of these drugs cause allergies in humans: bacteria are simply not working on the genetic level. So, at this stage of research the goats are an ideal option.
We would like to note that this is not only about the prestige of the national science, but also about billions of rubles of net profit. Thanks to the development of the new biotechnology, producing a number of important drugs will be 25-30 times cheaper than buying them abroad. Manufacture of unique baby foods can become a separate industry.
The Research Center for Animal Breeding of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus has already started the construction of a new experimental biotechnological complex for producer animals. Two projects are slated to be complete in this five-year period, namely, construction of a special farm for 250 transgenic goats and 500 head of young stock and a pilot processing module, where scientists will be able to extract the protein and produce food with lactoferrin.
Construction of the farm for the transgenic animals is already in progress. By 2015 the farm is expected to have 200 transgenic goats. By the end of this year,
Br2 billion will be utilized to construct the building. The work on outfitting the farm with the technology and equipment will start in 2012. All in all, Br5 billion will be assigned for the farm project. A total of RUB500 million has been allocated for the Belrostrasgen-2, which is almost 10 times as much as the funding for the first program.
But the problems on this thorny path still remain... In the coming years Belarusian and Russian geneticists will be polishing the technique of maintaining the altered genes in animals. It turns out that the transgenic protein is washed out of the system of the animals by the fourth or fifth generation.
And yet, according to scientists, it is necessary to begin working on the original gene structures. After all, the time has come for new projects, which seemed unrealistic not long ago. One of them is development of an effective agent for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, the so-called prourokinase, or a preparation for binding radioactive substances. Life itself has proven that biotechnology is not the future. It is the present day already.
At the Onset of Milk River
The new Union State program “Mixed Feed” can become a real breakthrough in cattle breeding as well. Constantly growing global food prices push farmers to look for efficient ways to boost production. Today one can make a good profit on meat and milk production, especially if one can produce more and spend less. However, so far production of well-balanced mixed fodders has been a weak link in the Russian and Belarusian cattle breeding. Grain accounts for up to 60-80% of mixed fodders with only 20-25% left for enriched additives responsible for weight increments and milk yield increases. Thus, this fodder is more expensive and less efficient.
In European countries mixed fodders contain only 20% of grain and the rest is made of the abovementioned enriched additives. Therefore, the milk yield and weight increments are at least 1.5 times higher at European farms, which, in turn, increases the competitive- ness of their products on the global market. This is why the Union State urgently needs to launch production of mineral and protein-enriched additives that are now being imported from abroad. This is the ultimate goal of the Union State program “Design of import-substituting equipment for production of well-balanced mixed fodders based on resource- and energy-saving technologies” or “Mixed Feed” in short. Besides, owing to import-substitution Russia and Belarus will save a huge amount of foreign currency on import. Suffice it to say that today the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of Belarus spends about $220 million on imported additives.
The draft program was developed by the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and coordinated with the Ministries of Finances and Economy, as well as the State Committee for Science and Technology of Belarus. Although this is a brand-new program, scientists and practitioners of the two countries have enough experience in designing and producing mixed fodder equipment.
The program was ordered and coordinated by the Ministries of Agriculture of Belarus and Russia. The main contractor from the Russian Federation is Formash, that from Belarus – Scientific and Practical Center for Agricultural Mechanization of the National Academy of Sciences.
According to the Center, the purpose of the program is to design and put in operation resource-saving technologies and equipment for production of protein- and vitaminenriched additives from local raw materials and by-products of food production. Technological lines that are being developed by the Center will be used to produce mixed fodder by agricultural companies and factories subordinate to the grain products department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. There are plans to set up multipurpose easy-to-assemble mixed fodder plants with the production capacity from 2 to 50 tonnes of mixed fodder an hour. It is also noteworthy that the new equipment will be twice as cheap as the imported one.
The next step is to find a reliable funding source. According to the estimates, about RUB230 million will be needed to implement the new program in the next three years. The return on investments
is expected in a few years and the benefits will be incommensurate with the expenditures. The fodder production costs will go down by 10-15% and the share of grain in mixed fodders will be cut by at least 20%. It will be possible to boost mixed fodder production by almost one fourth without spending money on grain cultivation. The energy consumption per one unit of product will decrease by 15-20%. But the most important thing is that the daily weight increment of cattle is expected to average 800-1000 grams and that of hogs – at least 600 grams. Just like in Europe…
Time is Worth More Than Money
The Union State is mainly focused on high-tech design and development projects. I would like to remind the readers that about 40 joint programs and initiatives are at present underway. Tens of high performance and often unique machines have been made for the agricultural sector alone. Jointly developed technologies are increasingly used in new fields. Many joint projects under the Union State programs have proved efficient in other integration formations, including the EURASEC and the Customs Union.
Today the Belarusian-russian economic and sci-tech cooperation needs an additional boost. It is necessary to create an encouraging environment for the implementa- tion of joint projects as well as to support business initiatives. In a situation when the international financial markets are going through hard times and the global economy is facing great risks, it is necessary to use all the benefits the integration can give.
However, there are still barriers in this area. Extremely complex procedures of getting approval for the Union State programs can result in significant reduction of their number. It is the reason why the list of technical programs funded by the Union State budget shrinks every year. Potential contractors are scared away by the necessity to go through endless red tape. There are cases when it took up to five years for the programs to be approved. Take, for instance, the “Stem Cells” program which could not get funding for several years. Fortunately, its initiators were patient enough to push the matter through and the Union State included the program into the 2011 budget.
Union State MPS have reiterated that Belarusian-russian projects get bogged down once submitted to the Russian authorities. As a rule, Belarusian governmental agencies review the documents much faster. It is no surprise that the red tape made the list of projects pending approval quite long. Unless the approval mechanism is simplified in the next two or three years, many of the pending projects will drop out, which would be quite unfortunate.
Synthesis of new-generation dry bacterial concentrates for the dairy
industry at the Institute of Meat and Dairy
Scientists view these transgenic goats almost as saviors of humanity
liquid additive “Biosyvorotka - LB” is produced by the Institute of Meat and
Leading researcher at the Livestock Genetics Laboratory of the Research Center for Animal Breeding N. Zhurin and research associate M. Kovalchuk extract DNA from tissue samples of pigs