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“Basis for the future fixed by innovations”, an article, Belaruskaya Dumka

2/2/17 9:50 PM / Views:742

Innovations determine the technological leadership in the modern world in many ways. They favor the appearance of promising products and services, and they also change the lifestyle of the society. In connection with this, we have a topical question: how to remove the barriers on the way from the idea to the invention?

And the main thing is how not to miss a hi-tech development and how to accelerate the adoption of this one? Belarus is not an exception. We count on the innovative development, the economy of the knowledge at the strategic imperative of the science and the practice of the adoption of innovation.

First of all, today the competitiveness of the economy of the country depends on the efficiency and activity of the innovative process. A special role in this process is for the science is a source of innovation and economic growth.

The science and innovation mutually penetrate through each other: the science forms innovations, and the innovations bring orders and ideas more and more. Making a special mention of the science in the creation of the economy of knowledge, Alexander Lukashenko, the President, stressed in the Message to the Belarusian People and the National Assembly in April 2019: ‘The future of our economy in all the areas is a science and the newest technologies of the 5th, 6th and may be 8th structures. The economy of knowledge is an only means, which can save both an independent and sovereign state and multiply our riches...’

The Belarusian science plays a key role in the construction of the economy of knowledge, the implementation of the strategy of the innovative development on the basis of the adoption of the best results of research and development corresponding the highest technological structures in the real sector of the economy. The foundations of this is laid in this program documents of the scientific, scientific-technical and innovation development of the country and the legal base created to the present time.


From the priorities to the world level


The priority areas of scientific and technical activities are approved by the President in order to solve the most important problems of the scientific-technical and innovation development of Belarus. For 2016-2020 they are energy, energy efficiency and nuclear energy; agro-technology and production; industrial and building technology and production; medicine, pharmacy, medical equipment; chemical engineering, petrochemistry; bioindustry and nanoindustry; information and communication technology and aerospace; environmental management and deep processing of natural resources; national security and the defense and the protection against emergencies.

Based on these priorities, national programs of different levels are designed to cover the whole innovation cycle from the idea to the implementation in its particular product or service demanded by business. Their financing is carried out partly from the national budget. Significant results were achieved in the course of the implementation of scientific and technical programs in 2011-2015. Thus, compared with the previous five-year period the volume of production increased more than twice - up to 10.7 billion USD.

The amount of the development of innovations also increased. If almost 8,000 innovations were adopted in 2006-2010, almost 9,500 innovations were adopted by the end of 2011-2015. The efficiency ratio also increased, from 19 to 48, i.e. more than by 2.5 times. Thus, each ruble of the budgetary means earned 48 rubles of the implementation of the products produced by the results of scientific-technical programs. As a result, it was paid 1.9 billion USD only for the added value tax.

From 3 to 5 world-class innovations are adopted each year in the course of scientific and technical programs implemented in Belarus. Here are some representative examples. The rock-handler BelAZ-75180 with a carrying capacity of 180 tons was created in the field of machine building. It corresponds to the level of the best foreign analogues, at the same time having its unique specialties: not only its dimensions, such as height and width are less, but also the turning radius.

The new representative of the Belarusian new mining equipment is also competitive in the price range: the machine is 1.5-1.8 times cheaper than its foreign analogues. The effectiveness of the development budget funds amounted to 11.6%.

You can select the design and the manufacture of the system of aortic  stenographer for endoprosthesis of the thoracic aorta aneurysms during the operations with an artificial circulation in the field of medicine.  For comparison, the cost of a unit of the domestic product is 1.5 thousand dollars, the cost of the import analogue is 12-15 thousand dollars. The production of stent-grafts has already been started in Belarus. We expect the complete import substitution and satisfaction of the needs of such systems in the country.

The domestic IT experts also made their significant contribution to the establishment of the medical technology. They developed the technology “Intercard 3 tele” enabling to organize the transmission of the information on the cardiac work of the patients to the consultative center for the automated diagnosis and the formation of ECG conclusion was developed in the field of IT-technologies. The program will operate throughout the whole cardiology service, which will reduce the quantity of sudden cardiac deaths.

In general, the widespread use of information and communication technologies will be an engine of the economic growth and social development of Belarus.

Innovations that have no analogues in the world, are successfully created by Belarusian specialists in the field of optics and electronics. For example, a laser optical-immersion system for generating microstructures and nanostructures was developed. In 2016, three such systems in the amount of 1.5 million USD were manufactured and exported to Russia.

17 state scientific and technical programs (SSTP) focused on the development of products oriented to the technologies and industries related to the 5th and 6th technological structures have been formed for 2016-2020. It should be separately said about the two new programs.

Thus, an unmanned aircraft system target of the one of the tasks of the SSTP "Robotic Systems and Aerospace Technologies" has been started to be developed. In addition, there are the works on program "Industrial Biotechnologies and Nanotechnologies 2020" on the creation of a serial production of technology products in the quantitative determination of the feed and food mycotoxins, which are a serious threat to the health of animals and humans.

It is expected that one of the results of the implementation of the state scientific-technical programs will be the release of innovative products and services worth more than 7 billion rubles by 2020. It is necessary to carry out the projects in machine building and machine tool construction, metallurgy, radio electronics and microelectronics, telecommunications and transport, agriculture products, livestock, agro-processing, medicine, pharmacy and medicine facilities, petro chemistry and energy. The work on the creation of more than 1.2 thousand innovations, including more than 350 kinds of cars, at least 40 types of materials and substances, more than 200 technological processes, more than 180 automated systems and complexes, about 60 varieties of plants and breeds of animals, not less 40 drugs has been started. The share of exports of high technology and high-tech products in the total volume of Belarusian exports should reach 33% by 2020.


Growth Drivers


The goal for 2017, the Year of Science in Belarus, is to improve the working conditions for the researchers and the implementation of the ideas and developments and to turn them into a commodity, as well as to attract young people to science. To implement it, it is expected to allocate up to 20% of the total funding for the breakthrough, potentially the most profitable projects. Venture capital investments will also help. An agreement on the establishment of the Russian-Belarusian venture investment fund, which is going to invest in the commercialization of scientific developments, was signed in 2016.

Russia moved far beyond us, so its experience will be useful for Belarus in the field of venture capital financing. Our country is interested in developing a venture business, besides it has already formed a market demand. The innovative entrepreneurship is actively developed. The infrastructure, industrial parks and a lot of start-ups are created. Any innovations created at the expense of venture investment innovations will come out not only on the markets of Russia and Belarus, but also on the international market.

The main purpose of the fund is to create a modern and transparent investment tool for the development of competitive companies on the basis of high-tech research carried out in Russia and Belarus in terms of harmonization of economic relations between the two countries in the EAEC. It is assumed that the first five high-tech projects will be financed in 2017. Perhaps it will be the production of X-ray scanners, as well as the issue of unmanned vehicles.

The modern innovation infrastructure which is being created will enable to reduce the path from the development to the creation of the first production sample. Today the innovative cooperation today is a creation of a single cross-cutting system for all the components of the innovation cycle and the inclusion of all stakeholders, such as science, education, industry, business sector, non-profit organizations, institutions of public administration, including with the use of a technology transfer tool and the functioning of technological platforms in the process of creating and implementing innovations.

The most important aspect of the innovation process requiring further attention by the government at the present stage is the implementation of the results of the  scientific research in practice.

Due to the implementation of the State Innovation Development Program (SIDP) in 2011-2015 in Belarus, it will  be created more than 19 thousand new jobs. The share of innovative products and services amounted to about one third of total production in the country, and more than 25% of it, worth 1.2 billion USD, was exported.

In 2016 76 projects included in the draft State Innovation Development Program of the Republic of Belarus for 2016-2020 were implemented. The total volume of the financing of new and transitory projects amounted to 11,607,916,000 not denominated rubles in January - September 2016. 24 projects of the total number of projects are based on the use of new domestic technologies, 9 of them are related to the 5th  technological structure and  2 of them are related to the 6th one. By the way, the executors of the latest projects related to the 6th technological structure are organizations of the NASB. The project "Development and Improvement of the Biotechnological Complex for Microclonal  Propagation of Economically Useful Plants" (2016-2020) is implemented by the SSI "Central Botanical Garden of the NAS of Belarus." The innovation of the work consists in the creation of a single technological chain: microclonal propagation - adaptation - growing plants. The technology is new for our country. Its implementation will create the conditions for laying the plantations with the introduced decorative, fruit, medicinal and other plants of interest for the agricultural sector by means of the mass production of the planting material. The planned volume of innovative products is 3,836,000 rubles.

The Institute of Physical Organic Chemistry of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus will continue working on the project "Development of Industrial Production and Introduction of Nanoplant Micronutrient for Widespread Use in Crop Production in Belarus." This is also the technology of the 6th structure. It is expected to master the production of the first domestic product for the plant cultivation. The main active substance of it will be nanoparticles of trace element compounds, exhibiting a unique superpermeability property through the protective cell membranes.

This will enable to provide a rapid synthesis of metal dependent enzymes, which are catalysts of metabolic reactions, in cell organelles, the stimulation of growth and development, adaptogenity, stress and productivity  at a minimum cost (hundreds of times smaller than the salt and chelated micronutrients).

The expected volume of the production of innovative products will be 820, 000 rubles by 2020.

The following promising projects related to the 5th technological structure are:

- creation and organization of the innovation and production center for the production of medical products (the executor is the Belarusian National Technical University);

-  creation of the mass production meeting the requirements of international standards for a new generation of artificial heart valves with mechanical improved performance (“Electronmash” Plant);

- organization of the serial production of INDELA SKY unmanned aircraft systems (LLC “KB INDELA”);

- development of the advanced technology of the encapsulation of integrated circuits, and its integration into the manufacture of products for industrial, special and dual purpose (OJSC "Integral").

The State Innovation Development Program for the current five-year period provides for an increase in the share of innovation-active organizations in the total number of industrial companies up to 26% by 2020. In other countries, the share is as follows: 17.7% in Poland, 17.5 % in Hungary, 19.6% in Slovakia, 26.9% in Croatia.

Also, the innovative products in the total volume of the shipped production are expected to reach 21.5% in Belarus by 2020, which is comparable with the rates of Denmark (19.4%), Germany (19%), Spain (17.8%), France (17.5%) and other countries. Higher rates in Europe are typical only for Luxembourg (21.9%), Slovakia (25.6%) and the UK (32.5%).

 There is one timely and relevant innovation more. The state program will be open, and it will be annually replenished with the projects on the creation of new productions that have a decisive importance for the innovative development of the country in consultation with the Head of State. In addition, there is a direct source of funding, the Centralized Innovation Fund, which will accumulate public resources intended for the implementation of projects.

As a result of the systematic measures, the Republic of Belarus retains a strong leadership position on the most important indicators of the innovative development among the EAEC countries. Thus, the share of innovatively active organizations in industry amounted to 19.6% in 2015, which is considerably higher than the level of Russia (9.7%), Kazakhstan (9.1%) and Kyrgyzstan (8.2%). The share of shipped innovative products of the Belarusian industry amounted to 13.1% in 2015, which exceeds the figures not only in the EAEC, but also the average level in the countries that joined the EU after 2000 (12.1%). Moreover, the value of this indicator for the Republic of Belarus is comparable with the leading countries of the European Union, such as Austria (13.3%), Italy (11.9%) and Belgium (9.9%). The bulk of innovative products and services in our country is carried out in the manufacturing industry: its share is 15.4%, which is higher than the average of all EU countries (15.1%) in this kind of economic activity.

After three quarters of 2016 the share of the export of Belarusian high-tech and science-intensive products amounted to 32.4%, which is 1.7% higher than the corresponding period of 2015. However, it should be noted that despite the positive dynamics, the balance of exports and imports of high technological level of goods in Belarus was negative. In general, it is obvious that there is still a shortage of facilities belonging to the 5th  and 6th technological structures.



Improving implementation mechanisms


Despite this success, the main problem is an implementation of developments created as a result of scientific and technical programs. The presence of a certain amount of the not implemented works in the field of applied research is worrying.

The figure 1 is a schematic implementation of the development created as a result of scientific and technical programs operating today. Experience showed that this scheme has a number of drawbacks.

The state customers have the primary responsibility for implementing the programs, but they do not enjoy the exclusive right to enter into contracts with the manufacturers of products. As a result, governments are not able to independently and effectively implement developments. In addition, companies and manufacturers often do not have the ability to determine the technical parameters of the development and to monitor their implementation by the scientific organizations. And, it is importantly, that the innovation infrastructure subjects are almost not included in the development of the implementation system.

In this connection we can offer an alternative scheme (figure 2). And, first of all, to secure an exclusive right to conclude contracts with manufacturers to develop products for government customers; secondly, to determine which manufacturers are executors of the works by the tasks of the programs; and thirdly, to ensure the maximum involvement of innovation infrastructure for the organization of the implementation of the results of scientific and technological activities (STA) in the real economy.

Another important task of improving the scientific area is a closer integration of scientific and technological activities. State complex target scientific and technical programs (SCTSTP) were implemented during the last two five-year periods, which were intended to ensure the integration of state research programs (SRP) and the state scientific and technical programs in order to implement the full innovation cycle from the research design to the adoption in the production.

However, this mechanism did not live up to expectations. In fact, the state complex target scientific and technical programs were formed on a "bottom-up": initially there was a creation of non-general purpose lists of SRP and SSTP, and then some of them were united by the similarity of subject matter.

And, as certain mechanisms for the use of the results SRP in SSTP in the framework of state complex target scientific and technical programs are not provided, the SCTSTP appeared to be a superstructure, the presence of which does not affect the results of the programs themselves and their contribution to the economy. As the analysis of the formation of the SRP for 2016-2020 shows, only 36.8% of the projects are based on the results of the SRP. Even the fact that these indicators are higher at the National Academy of Sciences, it does not change the situation significantly in the whole country.

One of the lowest levels of expenditures spent on scientific research related to the development and introduction of innovations in Europe is typical for the Republic of Belarus: only 15.7% of the total costs for research, developmental and technological works are connected with innovations. For comparison, the figure in Russia is 22.5%, 55% in Kazakhstan, 78% in Germany and 80% in Sweden.

To improve the mechanism for implementing SCTSTP it is necessary to adopt an end-to-end forecasting and the formulation of the central problems on a "bottom-up". The tasks of SRP and the SSTP should be considered as components of a single innovation cycle that culminates in the development of new technologies and products, followed by the scaling as part of SIDP by means of the creation of at least 2-3 new productions.

To effectively change the mechanism for the implementation of developments, it is necessary to significantly increase the role of the innovation infrastructure with the involvement of small innovative enterprises and the banking sector in the process. Today there is a network of entities of innovation infrastructure, including 10 scientific and technological parks, 7 technology transfer centers, 1 innovative and 1 venture funds in Belarus. The results of their work over the past few years are significant. Thus, the residents managed to almost double the number of jobs and the amount of production of innovative products only in industrial parks in 2012-2015.

Five subjects of innovative infrastructure more should appear by 2020.

The Chinese-Belarusian center of commercialization of innovations was opened in Minsk on December 28, 2016. It will be accompanied by scientific and technical and innovative projects and seek investors for the purpose of creation of joint ventures on the basis of Velikiy Kamenh, the Chinese-Belarusian Industrial Park. Unmanned aircraft systems, a creation of edible packaging on the basis of the BSU development, nano-coatings, and so on are among the areas of the activity.

However, despite the obvious achievements of the Belarusian industrial parks are considerably inferior in their development to not only the EU countries, but also to Russia. On average, there are 11 residents on one domestic industrial park, their quantity is 4 times more in Russia and 16 times more than in the European Union. The average amount of the revenue in such a technological park in Belarus is 2.4 million USD, and the volume of tax deductions is 0.35 million USD. These figures are more by 13 and 20 times respectively at the Russian technological parks.

The comprehensive assessment shows that it would be impossible to turn the Belarusian industrial parks development into an effective instrument of implementation without further state support. At the same time, it is advisable to establish a direct relationship of the volume of benefits and subsidies on the effectiveness of their work for technology parks, and to use the released funds in a targeted manner in coordination with the SCST.

The system based on this principle is successfully operating in the Russian Federation. Under the new financing concept it is expedient to provide a return of 50% tax deductions to the residents of technology parks in the industrial parks for the development of such technological parks and its residents. The proposed mechanism will enable them to become full-fledged subjects of the innovative development possessing the necessary resources and move away from the situation of a simple provision of the rental space for residents.

It should be noted also the priority areas of scientific-technical and innovation cooperation between Belarus and other CIS countries in 2015-2017, respectively.

Along with the space technologies, these are high-performance  information processing systems, nanomaterials and nanotechnologies, genetic engineering and biotechnologies. There are 10 pilot projects in the Interstate Program of Innovative Cooperation of the CIS member-states by 2020, in 9 of which Belarus is actively involved. Belarusian scientists could participate also in the development of regional programs for Russia, if they actively concluded contracts with RI departments, institutions of higher education and technology parks of the Russian Federation.

To sum up, I want to emphasize that the future of Belarus can only be built on a foundation of knowledge sealed by innovation. Therefore, we need as much as possible to take all the best from the world experience and "build" high-speed bridges between basic science and commerce. Creating new high-tech products, which are competitive on the world market is the most important area of investments. Stepping into our future, it is necessary to concentrate the scientific and technical potential of the country on breakthrough research and development by providing them with practical implementation in production.