To Join the Ranks of 50 Advanced Nations
The 2019-2021 Strategy of Innovative Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan has been approved. What can we expect in the coming years on this front? Uzbekistan Today correspondent addressed the Minister of Innovative Development Ibrohim Abdurahmonov with this and other questions.
- What do you expect from the implementation of this strategy?
- Its main goal is the development of human capital as the principal factor determining the degree of the country’s competitiveness in the world arena and its innovative progress. By 2030, we intend to join the list of 50 leading states of the world under the Global Innovation Index rating.
I would like to draw attention to the innovative approach to evaluating the results of the program. Previously, we used to praise ourselves, but no one abroad seriously took our selfserving boasts. In order not to admit our own mistakes, we avoided participation in various international studies and ratings. One example is the ranking of the Global Innovation Index: we were in it, but when our results began to deteriorate, we stopped cooperating with its authors and left it. If we call everything by its own name, that approach did not promote progressive development, but pulled us back.
Now everything will be different, as objective as possible. Progress will be assessed based on 81 indicators, determined within the framework of ratings and studies of international organizations. During the implementation of the strategy along 34 indicators, the country plans to significantly improve its position, and the assessment of achievements in 47 indicators will be carried out for the first time. It will be produced in the spheres of public administration, human capital and research activities, infrastructure, markets, business, science and technology, creative results.
- What is to be done on this path?
- In a word, we need to implement several sets of measures aimed at solving current problems.
First and foremost, we must ensure the improvement of the quality and coverage of education at all levels, the development of a system of continuous education, the flexibility of the training system based on the needs of the economy.
Second, there is an urgent need to bolster the scientific potential and effectiveness of research and development, create effective mechanisms for integrating education, science and entrepreneurship to widely implement the results of research, development and technological work.
Thirdly, we must secure growth in the investment of public and private funds in innovation, research, development and technology, the introduction of modern and effective forms of financing activities in these areas.
Fourth, the efficiency of public authorities ought to be increased through the introduction of modern management methods and techniques.
Fifth, we need to improve the system for ensuring the protection of property rights, create competitive markets and equal conditions for businesses, development of public-private partnership.
And, finally, it is necessary to work on delivering a sustainable socio-economic infrastructure.
- How will the education system change?
- Further improvement of the quality of learning in educational institutions is to be achieved through the introduction of new educational programs, modern pedagogical and smart technologies into the teaching and upbringing process. We finally need to use the potential of electronic modules and distance learning, not in words but in practice, to improve the quality of education.
At the same time, we need an objective assessment of the quality of education. Therefore, it is necessary to develop and implement a national system for assessing the quality of education and its impact on the level of innovative development of the country on the basis of systematic monitoring of the results of the educational process at the regional and national levels.
Vocational education should be more accessible. A person wishing to obtain a profession should not be constrained by some age and other framework that restricts his/her access to professional knowledge. The colleges will engage in professional retraining of young people, taking into account the rapidly changing labor market trends in short-term training programs. In higher education institutions, we will gradually abolish quotas for admission, they will themselves determine the number of students accepted, based on their capacities. Applicants will have the opportunity to simultaneously apply for several universities, which will increase their chances of graduating. There will be more universities; in the creation of new ones we will actively use the potential of cooperation with foreign leading higher educational institutions.
We will pay special attention to the quality of higher education. It is planned to raise it thanks to the consolidation of the research component of higher educational institutions on the basis of state support for the most active universities in this field, selected according to the number of published scientific articles, the citation index, participation in international conferences and seminars, and the number of patents received. Leading universities will have foresight centers. They will be engaged in forecasting the development of innovation activities in order to develop proposals for scenarios of the sector-based and regional economy. Their tasks will also include the provision of scientific and technological forecasting of the internal and external environment, the development of the technological and innovative environment and priority innovative directions of the higher educational institution.
Meanwhile, attention will be paid to the development of inclusive education. Everyone should have equal access to education, regardless of health status.
- To secure innovative development it is important that young people go to science. What will be done to increase the attractiveness of the profession of the scientist?
- First of all, a significant increase in funding for science is planned; it will be brought up to 0.8% of GDP.
The system of funding scientific research will receive a push forward. We will have innovative funds, innovative banks, venture funds. We will simplify the procedures and requirements for obtaining a bank loan to stimulate the innovative development of the country. It is necessary to improve the microfinance system of innovative development.
We are going to stimulate the participation of the private sector in identifying and financing the priorities of scientific and technological development. We will create a constantly updated single database of innovative projects and potential investors.
We’ll introduce the mechanism for organizing research through the public order for carrying out research and development work on the program-target principle using the mechanisms of project management. This will increase the effectiveness of scientists’ participation in addressing pressing issues.
Much attention is to be paid to the development of innovation infrastructure, the creation of conditions so that scientists can realize their potential. We will buy modern scientific equipment. To create conditions for its effective use, we are going to create centers for collective use of unique scientific and technical equipment. But the equipment in them will be the most advanced.
It was decided to deliver a public system of scientific and technical information, including the national, branch, regional scientific and technical information resources and organizations specializing in the collection, storage and processing of domestic and foreign sources of scientific and technical information, the formation, maintenance and use of information funds, databases and data banks. This will facilitate access to information about scientific inventions to all who are interested in them.
Scholars should be encouraged to implement their developments. To this end, we will create national and regional technology transfer offices. It is planned to create a hub for technology parks, free economic zones, free industrial zones, small industrial zones and scientific and industrial clusters for the development and introduction of advanced technologies.
Public support will be boosted for the formation of joint organizations with foreign partners to produce domestic science-intensive goods and to sell them on the foreign market.
Knowledge-intensive industries, in particular the sphere of IT technology and software product development, are to receive advancement. By 2021, the share of exports of services in the field of information and communication technologies will be brought to 4% of the total exports.
All this will contribute to the fact that scientists will be engaged in solving specific problems of the real sector of the economy.
- To make all this doable, we need to boost competition, don’t we?
- Absolutely correct. Therefore, its development in the concept is given priority attention, including the development of corporate law and the introduction of modern principles of corporate governance, taking into account international practice. The formation of a competitive market that stimulates the transition of the economy to an innovative development path and efficient use of resources is to be formed.
We will give priority attention to improving the antimonopoly policy, including through the introduction of public-private partnerships, ensuring nondiscriminatory access to goods, works and services of natural monopoly entities for all bodies corporate and individuals, and the introduction of effective pricing mechanisms for the production of monopoly enterprises. Equal conditions for carrying out entrepreneurial activities and preventing the monopolization of the domestic market will be formed.