Why Russia has not yet been able to ensure technological sovereignty

It is impossible to ensure the technological independence of Russia without creating strong links between science and production

The Institute of Economics of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences has launched a series of round tables dedicated to the prospect of Russia achieving technological sovereignty. The tightening of sanctions forced us to take a fresh look at the problem of dependence on imports and raise the question in a tough way: we are not talking about replacing individual positions, but about ensuring technological independence in sectors critical for the security and well-being of the country.

As a result of the global shifts that manifested themselves back in 2014 and accelerated in 2022, our country is undergoing a breakdown of the open economy model built on the sale of resources,” says Alexander Afanasiev, Associate Professor at the Russian Technological University.

The economic security of the country is impossible without scientific and technological. And in achieving technological sovereignty, the leading role belongs to the industrial policy of the state, Afanasyev is sure.

Natalia Kurakova, director of the RANEPA Center for Scientific and Technological Forecasting, quotes First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian government Andrei Belousov, who admits that since 2005 Russia has not been able to solve the problem of turning the scientific and technological sector into a factor in Russia’s GDP growth. In order to master it all the same, it is necessary to switch to the format of the state technological order.


– Small-scale society absorbs 43 percent of the funds directed to civil science, as a result they are used inefficiently. We, scientists, ourselves formulate research topics that are interesting to us, but not always in demand by the economy. In today’s geopolitical situation, this is already an unaffordable luxury, says Kurakova.

Investments in R&D are too risky, and in order to stimulate them, the state should share these risks with business

The fact that the creation and, most importantly, the implementation of domestic innovations is hampered by the lack of a mechanism for interaction between their creators and production is unanimously reiterated by theoretical scientists, practical inventors, and industrialists.


– Previously, the invention was the property of the state, enterprises had plans for scientific and technological development. Now the owner of a patent – an organization or an inventor – is left to his own devices. There is no coherent system of interaction between the state and the patent holder. At one time, a state strategy for managing intellectual property was presented, but it was emasculated and forgotten. In general, breakthrough inventions should be controlled and remain in the country. For such inventions, the duty must be paid by the state, – believes the chairman of the Sverdlovsk Regional Council of the All-Russian Society of Inventors and Innovators (VOIR) Alexei Okunev.

What happens in practice? Dozens of patents are received annually in large scientific institutes. Almost all of them gather dust on the shelves, and after a few years they simply cease to be supported. It would seem that they can be profitably implemented, but the whole process stops at the stage of coordination with the founder: earlier we acted directly, but now any maneuver requires Moscow’s approval, – says Anton Kaygorodov, Deputy Director for Research at the Institute of Electrophysics of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

In his opinion, what is required is not the centralization of this work, but rather the creation of an effective chain, which will include idea generators (scientists who carry out R&D), departments and organizations responsible for technology transfer, and a production link.

– Scientists should not calculate the economy and engage in sales. You can, of course, learn this, but then any science will immediately end, – Kaygorodov is sure.

The way out, according to the chairman of the council of chief designers of the Sverdlovsk region, Leonid Shalimov, should be some kind of gasket “between the brain and hands.” Previously, this function was performed by sectoral institutions, now they are practically non-existent. Such a role can be played by dual-purpose research and production clusters that are already being created. There are also technology transfer centers – there are already about a dozen of them in the Sverdlovsk region. But will intermediary organizations cope with this task? So far, scientists have no such confidence.

According to Kaigorodov, the introduction of new ideas will go faster if the business has an economic interest. Now investments in R&D are too risky, and in order to stimulate them, the state should share the risks with companies.

– I think the state should provide some preferences for private enterprises, for example, tax breaks. We need a systematic approach so that each link understands the possible risks and ultimate benefits, – the expert is sure. We place great hopes on the development of the Ural Interregional Scientific and Educational World-Class Center (UMNOC), which has become an effective tool for stimulating scientific and technological interaction between business, educational and scientific organizations. Much in the development of this story depends on the trust between industrial partners and universities. UMNOTS is primarily about technological projects implemented at the leading enterprises of the Kurgan, Sverdlovsk and Chelyabinsk regions. Business interest in this format is high. Last year, the Ural Optical and Mechanical Plant implemented a project with defibrillators with its help, this year they are working on neonatal equipment. “Sinara – Transport Machines” solved the problem of creating digital control systems for locomotives.


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