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Technology Development: a Correct Foresight

On 21 May, 2013 Higher School of Economics hosted a working meeting on the results of the Russian S&T Foresight 2030, and the objectives for the next stage of the study.

On 21 May, 2013 Higher School of Economics hosted a working meeting on the results of the Russian S&T Foresight 2030, and the objectives for the next stage of the study.

Leonid Gokhberg
Leonid Gokhberg

Opening the seminar, Leonid Gokhberg, first vice-rector of the HSE and director of the ISSEK, described the results of the Russian technology Foresight until 2030 under the auspices of the RF Ministry of Education and Science, as landmark ones. An important recognition of the quality of the work was the fact that President Vladimir Putin in his address to the Federal Assembly in December, 2012 noted the role of the Foresight in identifying breakthrough innovation development areas. At the same time transition form linear orientation (to support existing S&T areas) to a forward-oriented vision of future challenges, is becoming increasingly evident. This implies the need to develop, at the next stage, an even better integrated and larger-scale technology Foresight system. This objective was set in the presidential decree on economic policy of 7 May, 2012. Direct responsibility for this was given to the Inter-Departmental Commission on Technology Foresight, with participation of representatives of relevant government ministries and agencies, largest companies and leading research organisations. According to Leonid Gokhberg, the commission was established on 17 May, 2013 by the Presidium of the Presidential Council for Economic Modernisation and Innovative Development; the speaker invited the audience to discuss the results of the long-term Foresight and set the objectives for the next stage of the project.

More than 150 global trends were identified in 6 priority S&T development areas, more than 80 major markets for innovation products and services, and over 1,000 specific objectives for applied research and development.

The main findings of the national large-scale project were presented by Alexander Chulok, head of the HSE ISSEK Department of Science and Technology Foresight. More than 2,000 national and international experts were involved in the project. They made an integrated assessment of the most important to Russia S&T, socio-economic and political challenges, and suggested packages of relevant of technological and infrastructural solutions. More than 150 global trends were identified in 6 priority S&T development areas, more than 80 major markets for innovation products and services, and over 1,000 specific objectives for applied research and development. Also, “white spots” were identified in the course of the study (areas where there’s practically no Russian research under way at all), as well as potential “leadership areas” (where results obtained by Russian researchers have been recognised the world over). This information can be used by public authorities to shape government S&T policy, as well as by research and business communities.

Grigory Andruschak
Grigory Andruschak

The discussion on applying the long-term Foresight results to policy development, specifically to developing strategic documents on the basis of the identified priority areas, was carried on by representatives of the RF Ministry of Education and Science: Grigory Andruschak, head of Strategy, Analysis and Foreight Department, and Sergei Torbin, head of Analytical Monitoring, Statistics and Foresight section. The representatives of the ministry which has commissioned the project stressed that the results of the study were very important for setting the S&T agenda. Expert recommendations on developing specific subject areas have already been taken into account during the work on the RF National Programme “Development of Science and Technology in 2012-2020”, Russia’s Socio-Economic Strategy until 2020, development programmes for innovation territorial clusters, and some other strategic documents.

Pavel Rudnik, deputy director of the Ministry of Economic Development’s Strategic Management (Programmes) and Budgeting Department, stressed the need for coordinating these and other strategic documents, first of all the Foresight of the RF socio-economic development, when building the integrated national Foresight system.

Ozcan Saritas, leading researcher at the HSE ISSEK Laboratory for Science and Technology Studies, and editor-in-chief of the international Foresight magazine, told how the long-term Foresight currently being developed relates to the international agenda. He stressed a number of factors affecting the prospects of long-term forecast studies, and described the most important requirements for producing high-quality results. These include understanding of the future’s complex nature; use of both qualitative and quantitative techniques; and the need to develop a systemic policy to address global challenges.

Alexander Sokolov
Alexander Sokolov

Alexander Sokolov, director of the HSE ISSEK’s International Foresight Centre, spoke about the objectives of the next stage of the long-term study. The main goal is to find S&T answers to key challenges the country faces in its development. An important set of objectives are connected with overcoming the “pressure points” of Russian practice. Alexander Sokolov noted the crucial importance of systemic coordination between the key agencies participating in the research, and presented a possible organisational structure for technology Foresight system, together with main requirements it must meet.

Dmitri Belousov, head of section at the Centre for Macroeconomic Analysis and Short-Term Forecasting, outlined the macroeconomic context of the long-term Foresight and global reference points for innovation policy. According to the expert, “designing breakthroughs” should be supported by institutional measures, to ensure major modernisation of production facilities.

The Foresight developers answered a lot of questions about the project’s organisation and its expected effect, and received numerous requests for clarification. The attending experts shared their experience of working with the coordination team. E.g. Sergei Filippov, deputy director (research) of the Energy Research Institute of the RAS, stressed the HSE’s role in this major project and noted the enthusiasm of the university staff who’ve set a very high standard for all initiatives in the S&T Foresight.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, head of Innovation Promotion and Social Programmes Department of the Russian Venture Company, spoke about the quality of expert evaluations, on which the whole long-term Foresight is based. According to him, Russia lacks professionals capable of evaluating the developments in the S&T sphere in an integrated and adequate way.

A more detailed picture of Russian S&T development prospects until 2030 is presented in the recently published analytical report “Long-term Priorities for Applied Research in Russia”, which includes the main results of the completed cycle of the study. During the current year, an integrated analytical report on the long-term Foresight results will also be presented to public.

By Victoria Nosik, second year student, Faculty of Media Communications, probationer at the HSE Web portal’s news service