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"The Year of Science will Increase Growth Points," an article by Alexander Shumilin for Vesnik Suvyazi, the scientific and industrial bulletin no. 1 (141) 2017

3/14/17 10:22 AM / Views:216


Research and modern technologies form a basis of success in any serious undertaking. And this is an axiom. What tasks do the scientific community face in this regard? Are there world-class innovations in Belarus? Will science become a source of economic growth?

We asked Alexander Shumilin, the Chairman of the State Committee on Science and Technology of the Republic of Belarus, Doctor of Economic Sciences, to answer these and other questions at the start of the Year of Science.


Innovative height

Currently Belarus holds leading positions in many sectors of the economy among the CIS countries, for example, in agricultural and automotive engineering, agro-industrial complex, in the field of chemistry and petrochemistry, light industry, in certain areas of development of information and communication technologies (ICT). As for the export of IT services per capita, our Republic is ahead of all the CIS countries. There are significant developments in the field of high technologies, in particular in the manufacture of optical and laser instruments and automated control systems.

Obviously, the noted successes would not have been possible without the active participation of science and the introduction of the results of scientific developments in the production. To solve the most significant tasks, the President approves the priority areas of scientific and technical activities. Taking them into account, the national programs of various levels are formed, and the partial financing of these programs is carried out from the national budget. Programs are created in such a way as to cover the whole innovation cycle, from the origin of the idea to the embodiment of it into a specific demanded product or service.

Over the past five-year period, the significant results have been achieved in the implementation of scientific and technical programs. So, in comparison with the previous five-year period, the volume of the output increased more than 2 times - up to 10.7 billion dollars. The number of newly developed innovations also increased significantly. If in 2006-2010 it amounted to almost 8 thousand, then by the results of 2011-2015 it was almost 9.5 thousand.

It can be stated that each year up to five world-class innovations are created during the implementation of scientific and technical programs. Here are some examples.

A self-propelled dump truck with a payload capacity of 180 tons with an electromechanical transmission and a mileage of at least 1,000,000 km (JSC “BelAZ”) was designed and is manufactured. The dump truck corresponds to the level of the best foreign analogues, at the same time it wins in such parameters as height, width, turning radius, and it has an increased specific power. At the same time, its price is 1.5-1.8 times lower than the price of its competitors.

There are significant achievements in the medicine. In particular, the technology of the heart transplantation of patients with terminal stages of heart failure has been developed. It is possible to single out the development and manufacture of aortic stent-graft system for endoprosthetics of thoracic aortic aneurysms in operations with artificial circulation. The cost of the product is 1.5 thousand dollars, the cost of the imported analogue is 12-15 thousand dollars.

In general, the wide application of scientific developments and ICT is the locomotive of economic growth and social development of Belarus.

17 scientific and technical programs aimed at developing the products with the use of the technologies and industries related to the 5th and 6th technological structures were formed in 2016-2020. Separately, two new state scientific and technical programs should be singled out: "Robotic Complexes and Aerospace Technologies" and "Industrial Biotechnologies and Nanotechnologies 2020".

In 2016, 74 projects were implemented from 75 included in the draft State Program for Innovative Development of the Republic of Belarus for 2016-2020. Out of 75 projects, 26 are based on the use of the technologies developed in the Republic of Belarus. 9 projects are related to the 5th  technological structure and two ones to the 6th  structure.


By world standards

The key indicator of the level of development of science and innovation is the science intensity of the gross domestic product, which is calculated as the ratio of the costs of research and development to the country's GDP in any country. The indicator of the science intensity of GDP in Belarus for 2016 is projected on the level of 0.52%. The average European value of this indicator exceeds 2.2%. The countries, which are technological leaders, maintain the indicator of the science intensity of GDP at the level of 2-4%. For example, the level of science intensity is 3.6% in Japan, 3.17% in Finland, 2.7% in the USA, 2.84% in Germany and 2.0% in the Czech Republic.

In order to strengthen the economic security of the state, the Directive No. 3 "On Priority Areas for Strengthening the Economic Security of the State" provides for an increase in budgetary expenditures for scientific, scientific, technical and innovative activities by 2020 to 1% of GDP.

One of the most important characteristics of the level of innovative development of the state is to ensure the implementation of the results of scientific activity in civil circulation. According to the results of 2016, the share of innovative products shipped by industrial organizations in the total volume of industrial output amounted to 15.0% in the Republic of Belarus, which even slightly exceeds the average level of countries that joined the EU after 2000 - 12.1%. However, it should be noted that this indicator does not have a high level of stability and has changed over the past five years in the range from 13% (2015) to almost 18% (2012-2013). Thus, the State Committee on Science and Technology sees its task in stabilizing the indicator and gradually increasing it to 21.5% by 2020. The corresponding task is set by the Head of State and it is reflected in the State Program for Innovative Development of the Republic of Belarus for 2016-2020.

International ratings are used to compare individual aspects of the development of states in the world practice. As the most important source of information on innovation, the Global Index of Innovations (GII) was widely recognized. According to a number of GII indicators, the Republic of Belarus takes the leading positions in the world:

the 12th place in the term "Education" (in particular, the level of total expenditure on education is the 50th in the world);

the 15th place according to the term "Higher and Secondary Special Education";

the 23rd place according to the term "Workers of Intellectual Labor";

the 35th place according to the indicator "Human Capital and Research";

the 41st and 42nd places on the terms "Creation of Knowledge" and "Impact of Knowledge";

Despite the worsening of indicators in the field of intellectual property protection, Belarus is still in the top 30 countries of the world in terms of indicators "Number of Patent Applications per Unit of GDP" and "Number of applications for Utility Models per Unit of GDP": the 27th and 19th places accordingly.

WIPO, the rating of the patent activity of the countries of the world, reflects the successes of the countries in the field of intellectual property taking into account such three key indicators, as the number of applications for patents, the trademarks and the industrial prototypes (estimated as the total number of applications and applications from residents). The Republic of Belarus took the 52nd place in terms of activity in the area of intellectual property (residents and non-residents) and 58th in terms of the level of activity of residents in the field of intellectual property in the rating of patent activity in 2016.


Landscape of the Investment Attraction

The state of innovation activity and ICT in each state is the most important indicator of the development of society. It ensures the investment attractiveness of the economy. ICTs are a significant component of the competitiveness of the economy at the international level, ensuring the development of a high-tech sector of the economy, creating conditions for the transition to a digital economy, and the formation of a favorable business environment.

The digital transformation of the public administration system, the areas of science, education, healthcare, transport, communications and the real sector of the economy is being actively implemented in all industrialized countries. The State Program for the Development of the Digital Economy and the Information Society for 2016-2020 is being implemented in Belarus in this area. It was developed in accordance with the Strategy of Informatization Development in the Republic of Belarus for 2016-2022. And it is aimed at achieving  effective investments and an accelerated development of innovative sectors of the economy sectors, which is one of the priorities of the social and economic development of the Republic of Belarus.

As a result of the work on the development of the digital economy and the information society, the Republic of Belarus has improved its position in the international ratings on the ICT development index from the 36th place in 2015 to the 31st among 175 countries, as well as the e-government readiness index from the 55th  place in 2014 to the 49th place among 193 countries.

The accelerated development of ICT as a key component of the country's innovation strategy is envisaged to be implemented through the informatization of all sectors of the economy, including the industrial sector. The introduction of the Industry 4.0 concept, which is reasoned by the large-scale development of mobile telecommunications systems and the "universal Internet" is a strategic task of the digital transformation of the industrial sector of the Republic of Belarus.

ICTs have a positive impact on the processes of integrating science and production, establishing closer information links in the conduct of research, design, technological preparation of production and other use of research results in the form of innovations. ICTs improve the very system of science management and its interaction with the economy, so the digital transformation of the science sector is one of the national priorities of the developed countries.

The projects aimed at introducing the technology for electronic filing of applications for industrial property objects with the authentication of the parties and the encryption of data, the creation of a national basic component of the information infrastructure of the innovation activity of the distributed information system of the CIS countries, and the development of an automated system for electronic cooperation in awarding academic degrees and titles, nostrification and re-attestation with the purpose of forming a single information space of scientific and technical information that contributes to the creation of modern scientific and technical products and the provision of conditions for innovative development of the national economy.

The SCST manages the development of ICT for maintaining the information resource of the state register of R&D, on the basis of which a system of electronic services using Internet technologies will be created.

The Republic of Belarus has the necessary conditions for the creation of a modern ICT system, including a scientific information computer network (SICN) for the interaction between scientific institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Belarus, as well as other scientific institutions that interacts with Geant, the European scientific network, and the corporate library network of the Republic of Belarus.

The SCST is going to create an online expert-analytical community and a social science network to provide online interaction between experts in the near future on the basis of ICT and cloud technologies. An information resource is being developed that ensures full automation of the process of conducting the state scientific expertise and the scientific-technical one.

The creation of the necessary information and communication infrastructure of the State Committee on Science and Technology will significantly improve the quality of the expertise, and consequently, the adoption of management decisions. This will increase the efficiency of using budgetary funds to finance research and development and attract investment in innovative activities, and it will generally improve the investment attractiveness of the Republic and the competitiveness in the markets of science-intensive products.