Youth. Science. In­no­va­tions

Economy of Belarus - - FRONT PAGE - Snezhana MIKHAILOVSKAYA

This was the motto of the na­tion­wide congress of the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity timed to the Day of Be­laru­sian Science. At­tend­ing the event were rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Na­tional Academy of Sciences of Be­larus (NASB), the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry, and the State Science and Tech­nol­ogy Com­mit­tee. They all re­it­er­ated that our coun­try is im­ple­ment­ing sys­tem-based re­search projects and has al­ready come up with some unique so­lu­tions. Be­sides, in­no­va­tive world-class re­search cen­ters and pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties are be­ing set up in Be­larus. How­ever, it is also ob­vi­ous to­day that no ma­jor progress can be made with­out young sci­en­tists able to of­fer out-of-the­box so­lu­tions. The coun­try pins great hopes on the in­tel­lec­tual po­ten­tial of young re­searchers, their cre­ative think­ing and abil­ity to gen­er­ate in­no­va­tions. The fact that the year 2015 was de­clared the Year of the Youth by the Be­laru­sian Pres­i­dent means that the gov­ern­ment pays close at­ten­tion to young cre­atives and wants to of­fer them in­spi­ra­tion, learn­ing and gen­uine op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Time for Am­bi­tious Projects

Although Be­laru­sian sci­en­tists are known far be­yond Be­larus and their sci­en­tific achieve­ments are rec­og­nized glob­ally, they do not rest on their lau­rels and con­tinue work­ing hard to keep up with the fast-chang­ing world. Chair­man of the State Science and Tech­nol­ogy Com­mit­tee Alexander Shu­milin noted that the num­ber one task fac­ing the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity and man­agers to­day is cre­at­ing an ef­fi­cient, science-based, tech­no­log­i­cally-in­ten­sive in­no­va­tive sys­tem that will help make a qual­ity break­through in the do­mes­tic econ­omy.

Be­larus’ in­no­va­tive devel­op­ment pro­gram for 2011-2015 fea­tures 55 key projects. They en­vis­age set­ting up new en­ter­prises and pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties and im­ple­ment­ing 22 in­no­va­tive projects worth over Br850 bil­lion. The projects are to be com­pleted in 2015. Among them is pro­duc­tion of new-gen­er­a­tion me­chan­i­cal ar­ti­fi­cial heart valves, ro­botic mo­bile com­plexes, and oil and gas pipes. Ev­ery year the prac­ti­cal value of do­mes­tic sci­en­tific so­lu­tions in­creases. Be­laru­sian sci­en­tists have made sub­stan­tial progress in medicine: over 40 heart trans­plan­ta­tions were con­ducted; a new method to di­ag­nose can­cer in chil­dren was de­vel­oped; a new drug flu­dara­bel was de­vel­oped by the Na­tional Academy of Sciences, Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry and Health­care Min­istry to be rec­og­nized one of the world’s best can­cer drugs.

A num­ber of in­no­va­tive fa­cil­i­ties came on stream at the Academy of Sciences in 2014: the Cell Tech­nolo­gies Na­tional Re­search Cen­ter, the In­sti­tute of Bio­physics and Cell En­gi­neer­ing, the An­a­lyt­i­cal and Ge­netic En­gi­neer­ing Re­search Cen­ter at the In­sti­tute of Mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy. Pro­duc­tion of frozen bac­te­ria con­cen­trates for the dairy in­dus­try was launched at the In­sti­tute of Meat and Dairy In­dus­try. Ac­cord­ing to the de­vel­op­ers, the new pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity will in­crease the share of th­ese prod­ucts on the do­mes­tic mar­ket up to 60%, which will help save over $5 mil­lion an­nu­ally.

A to­tal of ten new cen­ters and fa­cil­i­ties to man­u­fac­ture in­no­va­tive prod­ucts have been set up at the Na­tional Academy of Sciences of Be­larus. An­other ten will be com­mis­sioned in 2015. First Deputy Chair­man of the Pre­sid­ium of the NASB Sergei Chizhik said: “We are fin­ish­ing the con­struc­tion of the cen­ter to pro­duce multi-pur­pose drones. Be­larus has made much progress in this field. To­day we man­u­fac­ture three types of drones and are work­ing on a fourth one with the fly­ing range of up to 300km. A sec­tion to pro­duce hemosor­bents – blood cleans­ing liq­uids that are in great de­mand in mod­ern-day medicine – is to be opened by the end of the year. We also have plans to set up a new well-equipped pre­ci­sion ma­chin­ing cen­ter at the tool-mak­ing plant Op­tron. I be­lieve that in 2015 we will be able to present BelBiograd with its first projects and ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties.”

Sum­ming up the year 2014, the Na­tional Academy of Sciences of Be­larus tra­di­tion­ally named Top 10 achieve­ments in fun­da­men­tal and ap­plied re­search. For ex­am­ple, a way was found to cre­ate solid di­a­mond-based quan­tum com­put­ers. Ac­cord­ing to re­searchers, they dis­cov­ered the is­land of sta­bil­ity of car­bon iso­topes which can stay vi­able only for tens of min­utes. But dur­ing that time, it can ac­tu­ally be used as a com­put­ing el­e­ment to in­crease the com­pute den­sity and the num­ber of log­i­cal op­er­a­tions. It is clear that the quan­tum com­puter may still be a long way off but this achieve­ment does hold some ap­pli­ca­tion prospects.

The Top 10 also in­cludes new so­lu­tions in hu­man sciences. For ex­am­ple, en­tirely new his­tor­i­cal facts were dis­cov­ered about the town of Novo­gru­dok – from an­cient times to the present. Tak­ing a gen­eral look at the re­search

con­ducted by the Na­tional Academy of Sciences, we can say that the NASB is cur­rently co­or­di­nat­ing 12 na­tional re­search pro­grams, acts as the cus­tomer-co­or­di­na­tor of the EurAsEC in­ter­na­tional pro­gram “In­no­va­tive biotech­nol­ogy 20112015” and the gov­ern­ment cus­tomer of four pro­grams of the Be­larusRus­sia Union State, 27 gov­ern­ment pro­grams and 10 sci­en­tific and tech­ni­cal pro­grams. While im­ple­ment­ing all th­ese pro­grams in 2014, the NASB de­vel­oped about 400 new re­search meth­ods, more than 2,000 pieces of new equip­ment (of which 1,350 went into pro­duc­tion) and de­vised 109 new and 13 high tech­nolo­gies.

There is room for in­no­va­tions prac­ti­cally in all sec­tors of the econ­omy,but­do­mes­tic­scienceshould take a more am­bi­tious po­si­tion, Chair­man of the Coun­cil of the Repub­lic of the Na­tional As­sem­bly of Be­larus Mikhail Myas­nikovich said. He be­lieves that man­u­fac­tur­ers and, first of all, the State Science and Tech­nol­ogy Com­mit­tee should make a sub­stan­tial con­tri­bu­tion to the ef­fort and set rel­e­vant tasks for do­mes­tic science. How­ever, sci­en­tists should also come for­ward with pro­pos­als and should not shy away from large-scale projects, Mikhail Myas­nikovich said.

Be­larus needs to up­date the list of re­search ar­eas and to fo­cus on the most im­por­tant ones, Mikhail Myas­nikovich said. A big­ger fo­cus should be made on nur­tur­ing young tal­ents. He noted that many say that there are no strong in­cen­tives in Be­larus that would en­cour­age young peo­ple to go into science. How­ever, Mikhail Myas­nikovich is not sure such state­ments hold true. The most im­por­tant thing for the youth is to be use­ful. To work and, of course, to get good re­search re­sults is a pow­er­ful in­cen­tive. We just need to en­cour­age young peo­ple to fo­cus on mod­ern tech­nolo­gies, in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions, with a view to shap­ing a new im­age of the Be­laru­sian econ­omy, Mikhail Myas­nikovich said.

He be­lieves that more at­ten­tion should be paid to science-in­ten­sive tech­nolo­gies with a high added value, for ex­am­ple, the in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies. In Be­larus the re­search in this area is mostly done within the Hi-Tech Park sys­tem. Last year Be­larus ex­ported the in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies worth about $500 mil­lion. An­other promis­ing re­search area is medicine. A stem cell cen­ter has re­cently opened in Be­larus, which has be­come a rev­o­lu­tion­ary achieve­ment for the coun­try. To­day it per­forms unique surg­eries, is busy cre­at­ing a data­bank of stem cells, which will be in de­mand in the fu­ture. An­other promis­ing re­search area is biotech­nol­ogy, a field that Be­larus started pro­mot­ing not so long ago. Last year the out­put of biotech­no­log­i­cal prod­ucts ex­ceeded $100 mil­lion, although the coun­try started from very hum­ble be­gin­nings, Mikhail Myas­nikovich noted.

The eco­nomic science some­what lags be­hind in terms of ap­plied in­no­va­tions, said the Chair­man of the Coun­cil of the Repub­lic.

“To­day, when deal­ing with dif­fi­cult eco­nomic sit­u­a­tions faced by our coun­try and the world, we rely on the con­cep­tual ap­proaches of the well-known econ­o­mist John Keynes, the mon­e­tarism the­ory which is mainly as­so­ci­ated with Mil­ton Fried­man, and the rec­om­men­da­tions of the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund... We, un­for­tu­nately, do not have ma­jor the­o­ret­i­cal and prac­ti­cal so­lu­tions in eco­nomics to­day. I would like to call on econ­o­mists to be­come more ac­tive in this re­gard,” Mikhail Myas­nikovich said.

The Chair­man of the Coun­cil of the Repub­lic noted that Be­larus is work­ing on sys­temic re­search projects, some­thing that not all coun­tries can af­ford. A solid man­age­ment sys­tem for science has been de­vel­oped in Be­larus. This be­came pos­si­ble due to eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal and so­cial sta­bil­ity in the coun­try.

Fu­ture New­tons, Ein­steins and Alfer­ovs

Science and ed­u­ca­tion are the main sources of growth to­day. Be­laru­sian sci­en­tists see science and in­no­va­tions as the key fac­tors and mech­a­nisms to se­cure the com­pet­i­tive abil­ity of the econ­omy and the state se­cu­rity.

The mod­ern world has en­tered the epoch of com­put­er­i­za­tion and a knowl­edge so­ci­ety when a big part

Tal­ented re­searchers en­joy plenty of op­tions for self-ful­fill­ment

of the eco­nomic wealth is cre­ated in high-tech­nol­ogy and knowl­edgein­ten­sive sec­tors, Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Mikhail Zhu­ravkov stressed. It con­sid­er­ably al­ters the re­quire­ments for per­son­nel train­ing, their pro­fes­sional and in­tel­lec­tual po­ten­tial and, hence, ne­ces­si­tates im­prov­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tional process of aca­demic, sci­en­tific and in­no­va­tive ac­tiv­i­ties in higher ed­u­ca­tional es­tab­lish­ments. Ac­cord­ing to the min­is­ter, to­day one of the pri­or­ity ar­eas of work in uni­ver­si­ties is to in­volve as many young peo­ple in sci­en­tific re­search as pos­si­ble. There are over 200 stu­dent sci­en­tific lab­o­ra­to­ries in uni­ver­si­ties; many of them con­duct re­search for man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties and com­pa­nies.

The role of uni­ver­si­ties is more pro­nounced nowa­days, Mikhail Zhu­ravkov noted com­ment­ing on to­day’s trends. Uni­ver­si­ties are be­com­ing a driv­ing force of in­no­va­tive eco­nomic devel­op­ment. In Be­larus an im­por­tant role in en­hanc­ing the ef­fi­ciency of re­search and train­ing top-qual­i­fied sci­en­tists is as­signed to the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry and the lead­ing uni­ver­si­ties. In­no­va­tions, cre­ative ideas and the search for new so­lu­tions is a pre­rog­a­tive of young and en­er­getic peo­ple, those who are ea­ger to make dis­cov­er­ies and are ready for them. Ev­ery year the in­ter­est in science rises among the youth, the min­is­ter said. For in­stance, 2,769 stu­dents are en­rolled in the post­grad­u­ate pro­grams of the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry and 108 sci­en­tists are in the doc­toral pro­grams.Mean­while, suc­cess­ful train­ing of highly-qual­i­fied sci­en­tific per­son­nel largely de­pends on the sci­en­tific ac­tiv­i­ties they were en­gaged in dur­ing stu­dent days. Re­search and devel­op­ment work of stu­dents helps cre­ate a sci­en­tific ground­work and de­ter­mine the propen­sity of young peo­ple to study science, gives an op­por­tu­nity to ful­fill their cre­ative am­bi­tions. The Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry is a regular state cus­tomer of re­search projects con­ducted by uni­ver­si­ties. There­fore, young peo­ple have a real op­por­tu­nity to present their dis­cov­er­ies and im­ple­ment them in prac­tice. Be­laru­sian higher learn­ing in­sti­tu­tions run a wide net­work of in­no­va­tive sub­di­vi­sions that in­cludes more than 40 fa­cil­i­ties. Sci­en­tific projects cover

supramolec­u­lar chem­istry, new chem­i­cal prod­ucts and tech­nol­ogy; en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, re­source sav­ing, ra­tio­nal en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment, fire and dis­as­ter pre­ven­tion; science-in­ten­sive tech­nolo­gies and many more.

Any sci­en­tific achieve­ment is based on a sys­tem of at­tract­ing youth tal­ents into science. Ac­cord­ing to Mikhail Zhu­ravkov, the sys­tem needs some re­forms. In par­tic­u­lar, re­gional science should catch up with lead­ing uni­ver­si­ties. A com­pre­hen­sive ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem is be­ing de­vel­oped for re­gional uni­ver­si­ties for this rea­son. It is ex­pected that stu­dents will be able to un­der­take

in­tern­ships at lead­ing uni­ver­si­ties. The Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry also plans to of­fer more grants for train­ing at for­eign uni­ver­si­ties. To this end, a spe­cial foun­da­tion may be es­tab­lished for re­search fel­low­ships and train­ing.

“Train­ing of young sci­en­tists is of para­mount sig­nif­i­cance to­day,” said First Deputy Chair­man of the Pre­sid­ium of the Na­tional Academy of Sciences of Be­larus Sergei Chizhik. “To­day de­vel­oped coun­tries seek to track down ca­pa­ble, tal­ented young peo­ple, in­spire them and lure them away. Of course, con­di­tions should be in place to iden­tify young hope­fuls. We do all we can to sup­port tal­ented young peo­ple. In­cen­tives are con­sid­ered as the key fac­tor here. We should not sug­gest rou­tine mun­dane tasks to young peo­ple. They should see the beauty of science and be en­gaged in ground­break­ing re­search, of course, un­der the su­per­vi­sion of a good sci­en­tific men­tor. Se­condly, a young sci­en­tist should see ca­reer growth op­por­tu­ni­ties. While pur­su­ing a ca­reer in science, you can­not skip stairs while climb­ing the ca­reer lad­der. You can­not get to the top with­out de­fend­ing Ph.D. and post­doc­toral de­grees. Thirdly, young peo­ple al­ways pay at­ten­tion to the hous­ing is­sue. To­day the Academy of Sciences pro­vides dor­mi­tory places to al­most 100% of its post­grad­u­ates. Last year the rental hous­ing pro­gram and the com­ple­tion of the con­struc­tion of the Mag­istr res­i­den­tial com­pound made a real break­through in the area,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Sergei Chizhik, the sys­tem of sup­port through con­tests, grants, and schol­ar­ships is the fourth im­por­tant stim­u­lus for young re­searchers. It is also worth men­tion­ing that tra­di­tion­ally the sup­port is pro­vided to young sci­en­tists on a com­pet­i­tive ba­sis as part of the schol­ar­ship pro­gram of the Fund of the Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of Be­larus. Ev­ery year from 40 to 50 NASB rep­re­sen­ta­tives are in­cluded in the list.

The prize for young sci­en­tists of the Fund for Sup­port­ing Ed­u­ca­tion and Science (the Alferov Fund) and the Na­tional Academy of Sciences was in­sti­tuted in 2014. Can­di­date of Physics and Math­e­mat­ics

Alexei Trukhanov, the lead­ing re­searcher of the mag­netic film physics lab of the NASB re­search cen­ter for ma­te­rial sciences, be­came the win­ner. The sci­en­tist spe­cial­izes in mag­netic electrics stud­ies. By the way, one of the Top 10 sci­en­tific achieve­ments in 2014 was the designing of mag­netic ma­te­ri­als and crys­tals; and the young sci­en­tist is in­volved in this re­search. It is no se­cret that the en­tire range of mi­cro­elec­tronic semi­con­duc­tor equip­ment is very sen­si­tive to ex­ter­nal fac­tors, par­tic­u­larly, to mag­netic fields and elec­tro­mag­netic ra­di­a­tion. There­fore, in present con­di­tions many sci­en­tific cen­ters world­wide are en­gaged in this sig­nif­i­cant area of stud­ies.

Alexei Trukhanov re­marked that the aca­demic cen­ter he is work­ing at does its best to en­gage young sci­en­tists in big en­gi­neer­ing projects and to stim­u­late the sci­en­tific ini­tia­tives of young re­searchers. How­ever, the re­searcher should have ba­sic knowl­edge, skills, and es­pe­cially in­ner mo­ti­va­tion. Zhores Alferov used to say that if you want to achieve some­thing in science, this should be­come your life­style.

Chair­man of the NASB Pre­sid­ium Vladimir Gusakov is con­vinced that science should pro­mote tal­ents.

“At­p­re­sent­theNa­tion­alA­cademy of Sciences has no short­age of young re­searchers. Apart from that, science should not turn into an oc­cu­pa­tion or busi­ness. It fos­ters tal­ents. We, in turn, will do our best to sup­port young sci­en­tists,” the NASB head said.

“In­deed, the num­ber of post­grad­u­ate stu­dents has slightly re­duced in re­cent years; but the num­ber of doc­toral de­gree seek­ers has been on the rise. The re­quire­ments for those who want to get mas­ter’s de­grees or com­plete a post-grad­u­ate pro­gram have been tough­ened. As a re­sult, we will en­roll fewer young re­searchers, but th­ese will be the peo­ple de­voted to science,” Vladimir Gusakov said.

Young sci­en­tists con­firm that the coun­try’s lead­ing sci­en­tific hub pays huge at­ten­tion to the sup­port of re­searchers and the en­gage­ment of

young peo­ple in science. Can­di­date of Chem­i­cal Sciences An­drei Ivanets, the Chair­man of the NASB Coun­cil of Young Sci­en­tists, head of the ad­sor­bents and ad­sorp­tion pro­cesses lab of the NASB In­sti­tute of Gen­eral and Nonor­ganic Chem­istry, has been awarded the schol­ar­ship of the Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of Be­larus twice: as a post­grad­u­ate stu­dent in 2009 and as a can­di­date of sciences in 2014. It is pos­si­ble, that in the dis­tant fu­ture he will be awarded this pres­ti­gious schol­ar­ship as a doc­tor of sciences. At least, such cases have al­ready taken place at the Na­tional Academy of Sciences.

The re­searcher men­tioned one of the main ad­van­tages: schol­ar­ship hold­ers move to the top of the wait­ing list for bet­ter hous­ing. “This is a very good prac­tice which shows young sci­en­tists that they mat­ter. It is not only a con­sid­er­able fi­nan­cial in­cen­tive mak­ing up about Br3 mil­lion per month, it is also very pres­ti­gious to be the win­ner of the schol­ar­ship of the Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of Be­larus,” An­drei Ivanets noted. Tal­ented re­searchers en­joy plenty of op­tions for self-ful­fill­ment. The ap­point­ment of sci­en­tists to the posts of se­nior ex­ec­u­tives tes­ti­fies to the fact. For ex­am­ple, in 2014 a num­ber of lead­ing in­sti­tu­tions were led by sci­en­tists aged from 33 to 40 years, namely the NASB re­search cen­ter for bi­o­log­i­cal re­sources, the United En­ergy and Nu­clear Re­search In­sti­tute Sosny, the In­sti­tute of Ap­plied Physics, the re­search cen­ter for agri­cul­tural mechanization.

Young peo­ple should seek to be at the fore­front. Re­searchers of­ten have a huge in­tel­lec­tual po­ten­tial which can ac­cel­er­ate the progress of mod­ern science. The so­ci­ety should not for­get about this. By in­vest­ing in ed­u­ca­tion, science, youth pol­icy, we, in fact, in­vest in our progress and a plat­form for the devel­op­ment of the econ­omy and the coun­try. Be­sides, sci­en­tific and tech­ni­cal in­no­va­tions shape the face of the mod­ern civ­i­liza­tion.

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