The Draft Strategy for the Innovation Development of the Russian Federation Until 2020

On 31 December 2010, the RF Ministry of Economic Development published a draft of The Strategy for the Innovation Development of the Russian Federation until 2020.

The Strategy evidently has not been written fr om scratch because it mentions some concepts and outcomes of its predecessor document, The Strategy for the Development of Science and Innovations in the Russian Federation Until 2015, and concedes that Russia lags in achieving most of the corresponding targets. Unfortunately, the new Strategy lacks any analysis of the causes of this lag, and, accordingly, does not take into account the errors of the past. However, this failure should be attributed not only to the Strategy’s drafters, but also to the absence of proper background research and to the virtual nonexistence of the base values concerning a number of measures being implemented in the sphere of science and innovation policy.      

The document describes three innovation strategies, each of which is augmented by an analysis of its prospects, advantages, problems and risks. It is announced that the optimum strategy would be a “mixed one”. Accordingly, this "mixed strategy" is chosen by the drafters as the basis for the whole project under consideration.

As regards the development of science, the Strategy singles out a number of priorities:
  1. a set of measures designed to bolster science at higher educational establishments. Although the issue of the higher educational establishments’ integration with other organizations is indeed raised in the draft, it is neither accentuated nor clarified;
  2. establishment of national research centers upon the model (which is emphasized) of the National Research Center "Kurchatov Institute". However, it should be noted that the Kurchatov Institute’s performance is hotly disputed in the scientific community, and there are doubts as to whether this model should be promoted nationwide. There are a lot of misgivings lest the national research center model should become, in fact, a model for monopolizing individual areas of research, and monopolization can hardly be considered as an impetus to pursue performance improvement;
  3. personnel policy. This subsection of the draft contains a lot of perfectly correct statements about the necessity of the size of wages being linked to performance; about the establishment of an age lim it for the occupants of top administrative positions; and about the necessity to create adequate conditions for the career-path promotion of the young. In comparison with the other subsections of the draft, the "personnel" subsection can be considered to be the most thoroughly elaborated one;
  4. improvement of financial mechanisms, orientation towards the top priority areas of science and technology development, and the optimization of the work of the grant-giving organizations. However, there is nothing new in a move in this direction, either. More noteworthy is the issue of improving the performance of the state scientific foundations – from the traditional statements as to the necessity to increase the amount of their budget funding to those concerning the importance of involving foreign experts in the procedure of project evaluation. However, it is precisely this subsection that makes one think that the Strategy and the real existence of the research complex belong to two parallel universes, because the plans formulated in the Strategy are, in fact, in dramatic conflict with the actual budget process, according to which  the funding of scientific foundations will be actually reduced by the year 2013.

Thus, the "Effective Science" section of the draft expounds with sufficient clarity the RF Government’s vision of the Russian scientific complex as it going to be shaped by the year 2020. This vision is still disputable, especially if one takes into consideration the lack of properly substantiated arguments. We can be sure, however, of only one thing: by the year 2020 science will still be in  existence in Russia, although there are some concerns as to whether or not it will actually be efficient.   

I.G. Dezhina, Doctor of Economic Sciences, Senior Research Fellow, Social Services Department