17 august 2012

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev holds a meeting on innovation development of agriculture and energy industries

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev chaired a meeting on the innovative development of economic sectors, namely, the agro-industrial sector and the fuel and energy sector.

Opening the meeting, the prime minister noted that the state had to increase the share of high-tech and science-intensive sectors to 30% of the Russian GDP by 2018 on 2011. "To reach this level, we must start actively analysing our economic innovation policy, and we must start creating incentives for this policy," Mr Medvedev noted. He said it was important to follow international experience, to cooperate with foreign research agencies, to invite foreign professors to higher education institutions and to popularise scientific achievements.

Participants in the meeting drew the prime minister's attention to the need to establish testing centres for various economic sectors. Mr Medvedev instructed Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov to assess the need to establish high-tech testing centres for various economic sectors in conjunction with representatives of the business community. "The situation with testing centres is really bad. The Soviet Union had five such testing centres, Europe already has 20 testing centres, and we have none," Mr Medvedev agreed. He added that such centres should be established under public-private partnerships. "There is such a general concept as forced innovation, but the forced establishment of testing centres is an obvious continuation of the former concept. Indeed, we will have to combine private and state investment. This is the only possible option," the prime minister stressed.

The prime minister also drew attention to the fact that agricultural producers must help introduce the latest high-tech Russian inventions at federal and regional levels.

Sergei Kislov, President of the Yug Rusi (Southern Russia) Group and Chairman of the Agro-
Industrial Union of Russia, told the prime minister about unique patented Russian projects in the agro-industrial sector, including the introduction of a liquid nitrogen packaging process and the manufacture of granulated fuel from agro-industrial waste. "Husk fuel is now highly popular in Russia, and it is actively exported to Europe where it costs more," Mr Kislov noted. Alcohol-free vodka is another interesting corporate invention. "You will treat us to alcohol-free vodka, and we will sing some melancholy songs, which seem appropriate after drinking such vodka," Mr Medvedev joked.

Alexander Kvochkin, Rector of the Michurin State Agrarian University, said the agricultural sector's R&D enterprises needed land plots, no matter what, and asked the government to examine the issue of transferring the university's land plots to small innovation enterprises. "As for the possibility of transferring land plots to small innovation enterprises, this issue, frankly speaking, implies the decent behaviour of those who will tackle this problem. I don't doubt the need for the required procedures for the Michurin State Agrarian University, but I have done a lot to decide on the future of land plots affiliated with the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences. One can see total confusion, the lack of professionalism and profit-seeking. Consequently, we need to assess all factors, before making such decisions," Mr Medvedev noted.

In his speech, Minister of Agriculture Nikolai Fyodorov criticised the innovation activity of the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, calling it ineffective. He requested additional powers for his ministry, so that it could coordinate such activity more effectively. "Let's study the issue of coordination and funding, with due consideration for the nature of the state, the relevant academies and the relevant state allocations. The Russian state approves statutory documents and everything else with regard to the academy, and the government also does something in this respect. Please submit proposals, and we will think of how to ensure more cost-effective research by this academy and some others," the prime minister suggested.

In conclusion, the prime minister stressed that intensive work would continue just like last year. "So, I'm asking everyone to stay alert. Naturally, I will promptly sign the relevant draft directives with due consideration of all the statements that have been voiced here."

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