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“Easily convertible ideas”, an interview with Alexander Shumilin for “Republic” newspaper

“Easily convertible ideas”, an interview with Alexander Shumilin for “Republic” newspaper

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“Easily convertible ideas”, an interview with Alexander Shumilin for “Republic” newspaper

This year, our country climbed to 72nd place in the Global Innovation Index. Several years ago, we took the 53rd place in the ranking of innovative countries. That is not surprising, since we create from 3 to 5 world-class innovations annually. The draft Decree "On Priority Directions of Scientific, Scientific, Technical and Innovative Activities for 2021-2025" is a logical continuation of this work. The newspaper “Republic” asked  Alexander Shumilin, Chairman of the State Committee on Science and Technology, how the work on the document is going on and what scientists and practitioners will be doing in the next five years.

Scientists lead the way

– Mr. Alexander, how the new Decree “On priority areas of scientific and technical activity in the Republic of Belarus for 2016-2020” differs from the previous documents?

– The new document will be wider, more comprehensive. It will cover not only the applied science, but also theoretical science, and innovation. Obviously, scientists lead the way to economic development. And we, in turn, must use the most advanced world technologies in our economy. Therefore, a large team of experts worked on the new document. The project was prepared taking into account the National Security Concept, the proposals of the National Academy of Sciences, state bodies and organizations of all forms of ownership, as well as a comprehensive forecast of the country's scientific and technological progress for 2021–2025 and for the period until 2040. In addition, it takes into account the interests of the EAEU member states.

– Do EAEU countries also have domestic legislation aimed at the development of innovations?

– Certainly.  We carefully studied them before preparing our document. For example, in Russia there is a document with a similar title “On the approval of priority areas for the development of science and technology in the Russian Federation and a list of crucial technologies of the Russian Federation”. In Kazakhstan, the priority areas of scientific, technical and innovative activity in accordance with the priorities of socio-economic development, and the priority areas of strategic, fundamental and applied scientific research are determined by Article No. 3 of the Law "On Science". Similar documents are signed in Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.

 Six priorities

– What areas are highlighted among the top-priority ones? How were they selected?

– How can we describe “top-priority”? This is not only the demand on the market, but also the very opportunity to advance, taking into account the existing backlog and development of the material and technical base, the availability of qualificated specialists. Based on this, we identified six areas as top-priority for the next five years. Among them are high-tech information and communication, digital and interdisciplinary technologies. For example, the technology of a smart city, electric and unmanned vehicles. The list is actually very long. It includes nanomaterials, and nanotechnology, nanodiagnostics, electronic systems and technologies, instrumentation, multiscale additive technologies and much more. The second priority is the development of biological, chemical, medical and pharmaceutical technologies. In particular, personalized medicine belongs to this area. The third area deals with energy, ecology and radiation safety. That is connected to mechanical engineering and innovative materials. Fifth priority is agricultural and food technology, and sixth – the security of people, society and the state.