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“On the wave crest”, an interview by Alexander Shumilin for Respublika

“On the wave crest”, an interview by Alexander Shumilin for Respublika

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“On the wave crest”, an interview by Alexander Shumilin for Respublika

Alexander Shumilin, Chairman of the SCST, speaks on grants, youth innovation developments and things that are profitable for science. 

One more opportunity for a self-realization for young inventors will appear in the country soon. The Belarusian-Chinese Center for young scientists will be opened on the basis of Belarusian State University. The State Committee on Science and Technology and the institution of higher education from our side and Chzhenzyan University and the Government of Chzhenzyan from the Chinese side will sign the documents on cooperation. It is important to understand that such a center will work in our country for the first time, but, at the same time, a system of support of young innovators has been created in our country. The reporter of Respublika asked the Chairman of the SCST Alexander Shumilin how easy or difficult the self-realization and commercialization of developments are. 

Contests are the way to announce about yourself 

Alexander Shumilin 

Alexander Shumilin: ‘On the one hand, it is not easy for young people to fulfil themselves, but it is possible in case they desire it, all the mechanisms have been created in the country. Of course, this is a whole list of contests, as all over the world. One of the most popular is “100 Ideas for Belarus”, which was held on April 11. “100 Ideas for the CIS”, a larger contest, was held after it.

There are contests in the system of the education, which are the contests of scientific works of students and pupils. There is National Contest of Innovation Projects, held by the SCST. Only last year we received about two hundred applications. In general, coтtests are the easiest way to declare yourself. Just because you need to be realistic, the business will not be interested in your idea right from the start. It is necessary to go through certain stages for this, to present an idea and to justify its prospect. 

By the way, the SCST allocates grants for a professional development of the business plan by specialists for those who won in other contests and came to our one (and we demand that the work has its business plan and the way of commercialization).

It's obvious, the guys themselves can not do this. Last year we paid for 10 such financial justifications. After that, the works were defended at our contest. By the way, our victory makes it possible to pass the state expert examination of the project, thereby gaining the status of the innovation in addition to the prize. Last year, we had eight grants for the commercialization of projects. There were four grants the year before.’ 

Respublika: ‘Are grant funds sufficient to use them as an initial capital?’ 

Alexander: ‘Judge for yourself: this is an amount of up to 5 thousand USD. However, that's not all, either. Then technology parks are included in the work, which select interesting ideas. Thus, young people have a platform where they can turn the developments into business. In addition, the contest is attended by representatives of business and owners of large companies. On the one hand, a young man is gaining experience getting questions from real business, on the other hand, this is an opportunity to be seen even without winning the contest. We look at work more from the point of view of science, and we look at business from the point of view of profit. And sometimes ideas are supported and implemented.’ 

Engineers are not born in high institutions of education 

Respublika: ‘Do you remember the brightest projects?’ 

Alexander: ‘You can talk about them for a long time, because all competitive victories are worthy of it. For example, the victory of 2014, when a team from BNTU proposed the idea of ​​utilizing excess gas pressure in gas pipelines. Then it was a draft at the drawing level. They won at our contest, and their work was placed in Polytechnic technology park of the university. Then they took part in our joint contest with Skolkovo, got another grant and created an experimental production. Their products have already found a consumer in Kazakhstan, Russia. Two such plants are already operating in Minsk.

There was another interesting example when one of the winners of "100 ideas for Belarus", an underage guy, created a robot on the basis of a vacuum cleaner. We thought for a long time whether to give him a grant or not. Perhaps, then, this decision, taken in his favor, became a landmark. Now the young man has an experienced production, he produces a dozen robots per year. Now he is registering an enterprise in one of the technology parks and will scale the production. However, he's only 20 years old!’ 

Respublika: ‘Alexander, is this rather an exception or a rule? Are young people ready to promote their ideas and know how to do this?’ 

Alexander: ‘Do not underestimate the young. They have both knowledge and a desire to achieve something. In general, I can say that future engineers are not born in high institutions of education. There we pick them up, rather. This is a hobby from a school age, from 12-14 years. It's good that we started to revive the robotics competitions and the centers of technical creativity on the scale of the country. These are Soviet traditions, but, of course, on a different level. The guys use the construction sets, unfortunately, not ours, but imported ones. This is an expensive pleasure. However, they are already trying to do the details to them independently and learn to program. Here they are talented designers. And in adult life, they can grow to their production and to their own business. We have to give them this opportunity.

We have a high-tech country, and the technical education and the technical creativity are very important here. By the way, recently, we held a contest for young people on the basis of BNTU, which once again showed that our guys are creative and advanced. Many works were almost ready for implementation in production. These are ideas from a 3D printer made from improvised materials to the issues of fundamental physics. Last year, the winner was the team of the Gomel Machine-Building College, headed by Maxim Kiryanov, who offered a rehabilitation of the hand after the stroke. Imagine, what "adult" ideas young people have! This is a product that will be in demand, including abroad, because it is cheaper than the world's analogues. Future serious projects are born from these developments. 

Self-realization is not easy for young people, on the one hand, but if you want, it is possible, because all the mechanisms are created in the country. Of course, this is a whole list of contests as in the whole world.’ 

IT is always ahead 

Respublika: ‘Is it true that projects from the IT sector participate in contests more often?’ 

Alexander: ‘Traditionally it is about half of our competitive works. And this is not surprising, because the idea of ​​Belarus as an IT-country was not born so easily and the President supported it not so easily. Information technologies penetrate in all the areas. For example, let’s speak about a signal processing for the recognition of cancer cells. On the one hand, it is an area of ​​medicine, on the other hand, it is a serious software product that enables you to determine the disease on the basis of analysis. There are programs that help determine the degree of ripening of the crop using a mobile phone connected to a database. They prompt which fertilizers and the amount of moisture it needs. This is also a software product and the winner of our contest.

The topic of mechanical engineering is quite active at competitions. By the way, it is traditionally important for the country. There are many proposals for nanomaterials, the creation of machines and aggregates, and robots. Active areas are medicine and biotechnology. These are drivers of the economy. Young people are interested in being at the peak that everyone is interested in.’ 

Alexander DUBOVITSKY, a young inventor, is going to scale his production.’ 

Respublika: ‘In your opinion, what is not enough?’ 

Alexander: ‘I wish there were more projects in chemistry. After all, a low-tonnage chemistry is very important for our country. In addition, we are engaged in oil refining and are working to expand the list of products, such as plastics, optics and fiberglass, in order to make good money on it. We have a traditionally strong chemical school in the country. The success in pharmacology is an eloquent example.

There is one more promising area, the drones. I'm not talking about flying machines, we produce them. We have not developments of our own unmanned vehicles, in addition to BelAZ products, yet. However, this is the future of machine building. The creation of such cars is a key to success, for example, in precision farming. Foreign companies achieve the accuracy of the movement of machines on plowing plus or minus 2 centimeters. Fuel economy at the same time is up to 30 percent! Agree, there is something to strive for.’ 

The source: RESPUBLIKA