Dmitry Medvedev holds a meeting of the Presidium of the Presidential Council for Economic Modernisation and Innovation in Voronezh
20 november 2012
Dmitry Medvedev’s opening remarks:
Good afternoon, everyone. It is a pleasure to meet on the site of a nuclear power station. This is not an ordinary meeting but a meeting of the Presidium of the Council for Economic Modernisation and Innovation. This is the first presidium meeting, though I have had the opportunity in the past to work with many of you in the Presidential Commission, as it was called. We will continue our joint work in this new format and will meet regularly. I believe the main goal of our meetings will be to draft proposals on forming the infrastructure to support innovation at the industry and regional levels.
Today’s meeting is devoted to one of our leading industries – the nuclear power industry. We are still a leader in this sphere. It’s fitting that we start with this issue, but we must maintain our lead and this is always more difficult than to overtake someone else. Nuclear technology is used in all spheres of life – the economy, the power industry, space exploration, aviation, medicine, agriculture, production of composite materials and informatics. The small exhibition that I have seen contains interesting things in all of these areas. The programme for the construction of nuclear power stations has provided nuclear power engineering enterprises with long-term contracts. In 2011-2012, some 60 billion roubles were allocated from the federal budget as part of the federal programmes to develop nuclear technology, including 23 billion roubles for research and development projects, which merits recognition. I won't name every research area, they are well known. My colleagues, including Sergei Kiriyenko (Sergei Kiriyenko, CEO of the Rosatom state corporation), will provide more details.
Since 2006, Rosatom has increased its research and development expenses by 400%, from just over four billion to 21 billion a year. This is not the total amount, although it is truly impressive. Regarding profit supplement, the figure is quite good (4.5% of the revenue, which is one of the best rates in Russia and even the world). The respective figures of such companies as General Electric, Siemens, AREVA and some others swing between 2% and 3%. Our figures are better. I hope we can maintain the R&D expenses at the same level.
Long-term planning horizons are common in the nuclear power industry. It is natural for us to try to get a glimpse of the future as we determine our priorities. We set objectives for the decades ahead; therefore, our decisions must be thoroughly calculated and balanced. The various aspects of their implementation need to be thoroughly considered, including personnel training. I am also aware that Rosatom is working on an order for R&D projects and training of young professionals for the industry. I hope that these efforts will get young people involved in the corporation’s research projects. As many as 14 universities are involved in this.
The Government’s high-tech commission has approved three technology platforms to promote nuclear technology. Russia’s seven territorial innovation hubs all address nuclear issues in one way or another. One of the most promising initiatives is the use of advanced nuclear technology for civilian applications. Russian development institutions are actively promoting the commercialisation of these projects. There is a separate cluster for that in Skolkovo alone; a series of projects are being supported by other entities, such as the Russian Venture Company, RusNano, and the Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises in Science and Technology: they have provided a total of 6 billion roubles.
Promoting Russian nuclear technologies internationally is a strategic goal. Russia has many large-scale programmes. We are all involved, in one way or another, in implementing these programmes, whether politically, organisationally or operationally. Russia is also implementing programmes in Turkey, China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Armenia, Ukraine and Belarus. We certainly need to use every possibility for supporting these initiatives diplomatically, and for stimulating them economically. State agencies should be doing these things continuously. It is important to participate in joint research projects, including the development of a nuclear fusion reactor.
Companies in the industry receive orders to develop unique production technologies, for example, for making superconductors at the Chepetsk Mechanical Plant. A multipurpose experimental fast fission reactor is being developed in Dimitrovgrad. Foreign orders will account for half the workload planned for that reactor. In the long term it is expected to become a centre of attraction for gifted scientists and researchers from around the world.
We also need to think about elevating Russia’s nuclear energy to a higher level of development. We have seen something at the exhibition today, and Mr Kiriyenko promised to tell us what their plans are. We need not just to secure the current position, but to strengthen it.
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Closing remarks by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev:
To sum up, I believe it’s good that we started out by discussing nuclear technology, because it’s an advanced area of research in Russia. Let me reiterate, it is important for us to keep it this way and even give it a competitive boost. It’s comforting to know that we have made some real progress over the past years not only in major areas of research, such as nuclear energy, where Russia has always been a strong performer, but in applied areas of research as well where we provided funding to specific areas and promoted these ideas using other avenues. It's very important to maintain what we’ve achieved. I agree that we should back substantially everything that we saw and heard today, including support from the Government.
Frankly, I’m not sure I really understand what the reorganisation at the Ministry of Regional Development is all about. I have not heard anything about it; perhaps you will let me in on it later. Not a single government department is undergoing reorganisation now: all the ministries have clearly defined responsibilities. If someone out there is involved in a reorganisation of his own making, so be it. However, I don’t mind running all that we heard here today out of the Strategic Initiatives Agency, which is a good tool for this kind of work. We have created it specifically for this purpose. Mr Nikitin (addressing Andrei Nikitin, Director General of the Strategic Initiatives Agency for the Promotion of New Projects), please take note of this.
With regard to specific instructions in the areas that have been announced and some others, I would like all of them to be prepared, and, of course, I'll do as we agreed. For future reference, I would like to ask all the participants and members of the Presidium to be concise in their remarks and present state support-related proposals to the Government, the ministries and the departments, because this is the purpose of our meetings. Thank you.