Vladimir Putin met with mega-grant recipients and RSF-funded young researchers



President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends,

I am glad to welcome you all in Sochi. I hope you like it here. It is a nice and beautiful place. Many of you have already been here. I am pleased to welcome everybody who came. I have already met with some of you. I think it was in September 2016. Then you and your colleagues put forward a number of meaningful proposals, constructive and interesting ideas, which we tried to work on at once. That is how the mega-grants programme was continued.

Over the past two years alone almost 80 good, world-class – in your own view – laboratories have been established in universities and research organisations. Now there are already 236 of them in Russia. And they are managed by really good, eminent and outstanding researchers.

The presidential programme was launched concurrently with the Russian Science Foundation. The programme’s main objective is to help young scientists reach their potential, form teams and implement their long-term projects. By the way, it was your idea; it was you who proposed it. I mean that you work with young people, young scientists. And it was you who told me that it was necessary to create conditions for their work too. Today I hope to hear your thoughts on what we have done to this end.

I will say that we have never had such diversified measures of support which take into consideration specific researchers’ requirements and are aimed at promoting significant projects. We did not organise our work in this way. Certainly, as I have already said, I would like to hear the winners explain how this work is going. I would certainly like to know about initial results.

It is important that both mega-grants and the Russian Science Foundation programme are based on core principles: sustained funding (we discussed this last time as well and I said that we would arrange and guarantee this, and this is how it is now, which makes it possible to schedule the work), as well as modern tough requirements for expert review and the research results themselves, and certainly a focus on priority areas in science and technology and addressing strategic innovation challenges.

Decisions that we made together launched these long-pending research projects. Russian science is growing younger, more energetic and more competitive. In essence, a new scientific geography is taking shape in Russia: strong science schools are burgeoning not only in Moscow and St Petersburg but in a number of other cities. They include Nizhny Novgorod, Perm, Tyumen, Yekaterinburg, Rostov, Saratov, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk, Sevastopol and others. I will talk about this later. In addition, more than half the employees of these laboratories, about 60 percent, are scientists under 39.

In Kazan, Tomsk, Kaliningrad and Yekaterinburg young people are organising research groups and working in promising new areas, first of all those associated with quality of life, including the environmental and medical fields. By the way, the Federal Research Programme to Develop Genetic Technologies for 2019–2027 is meant to provide a serious boost here.

We will definitely continue to strengthen research capacity and create modern conditions for the work of scientists in Russian regions. This is an important issue for us as a whole and also from the point of view of the development of science in the country; it is also an element of the country’s spatial development.

Already this year the first science and education centres will be launched in Belgorod, Kemerovo, Nizhny Novgorod, Perm and Tyumen. We will try to do this as quickly as possible, without excessive bureaucracy. Just yesterday I discussed this with Mr Fursenko. We will do this as an experiment, perhaps without the complex administrative procedures inherent in solving this kind of problem.

The upgrading of the instrument base of scientific institutions and universities has already begun. The development of mega-science class installations continues, which will hopefully become a real intellectual magnet for researchers from different countries, not only from Russia. This is a guiding principle; we will create opportunities for researchers from other countries to work.

It is also obvious that free and productive scientific pursuits require the absence of bureaucratic delays. I already talked about this. And we will try to work in many areas this way. Of course, it is unacceptable when funds promised under a project are furnished erratically or not at all.

But, as I have already said, we provided consistent funding during the first stage. I guarantee that this will not change in the future. We have a source, it is defined, it is sufficient for this kind of work, and I do not see any problems with funding here. Except for one thing: this research should be interesting, aimed at and looking to the future, the results of which create additional development opportunities for us.

That is basically all I wanted to say at the beginning. I want to thank you for being present here today.