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News on Science Funding at MIEF

Preliminary results of the implementation of state assignment in the field of science for universities in 2015 was presented at the seminar "Tools to fund research projects in universities and research organizations", held in the framework of the Moscow International Education Fair (MIEF 2016). The speaker was Sergey Salikhov, the director of the Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation.

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The total amount of state assignments in the field of science was 120.18 billion rubles in 2015, of which 56.4% came to institutions and organizations of FANO Russia, and only 8.82% to t  Russian universities and scientific organizations that report to Ministry of Education and Science. For information on how state universities fulfilled the assignments, which was funded in the past year in the amount of 6.474 billion rubles from the budget, Sergei Salikhov told to the participants of the seminar who were representatives of the research and education community.

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Director of the Department of Science and Technology of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science has talked on development projects, investments that can give serious scientific results in the future, and the content of scientific infrastructure. This is basic part of the state assignment.

In the competitive part, which accounts for more than half of funding for universities, an important place is occupied by resolving of especially significant scientific and technical problems (in particular in the agricultural sector of the country), laboratory projects and "federal professors" program.

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As a part of this recently launched program, the Ministry conducted a competitive selection of "federal professors" in the field of mathematics, that has been won by 18 scientists. In this and subsequent years there will be contests in other scientific fields.

"We will continue to expand the competition part of the state task - while retaining the overall limits allocated to subordinated universities", - noted Sergey Salikhov.

Analysis of staffing of state assignment performers, he said, showed that more than half of the researchers  are' doctors and candidates; age of more than a half of the performers - at least 35 years; and of the 256 leading researchers 113 are the leaders of the research projects.

The Ministry is pursuing a policy to decently pay to performers of the state assignment. The Russian Government approved the "road map" in which the planned value of the ratio of wages of the researcher to the average wage in the region is set at 143% for 2015.

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Running of state assignment by universities being a tool for supporting basic research was evaluated on the basis of indicators, set out in the Decree of the President of Russia № 599 of May 7, 2012. Almost 20% of articles written by leading researchers working within the state assignment were published in scientific journals that are indexed by Web of Science database, and  impact factor of which is more than three; 43% of the articles were published in journals with impact factor greater than one.

"Ministry of Education considers the state assignment to be one of the most effective tools for grant support of research activities, and we will continuously improve the quality requirements of work and transparency of project funding carried out within framework of the state assignment", - said the director of the Department of Science and Technology.

Also, the Ministry intends to increase the minimum amount of grants for projects carried out under the basic part of the state assignment from 3 to 5 million rubles. Support of research infrastructure of universities, inter-chair laboratories and common use centers especially (in 2015 highly qualified scientific and technical personnel supported research equipment park of total value of 33 billion rubles; they were funded via state assignment) will be continued. Part of the state assignment will be formed to enhance the interaction between universities with DIC organizations through research activities.

On IMSO speakers also spoke about the conditions of participation in the fifth competition for governmental "megagrants"

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"Megagrant" program is one of the most successful programs in the country. Under the guidance of leading scientists 160 unique research laboratories were created, where a bulk of the work is done by young researchers, including PhD and post-graduate students and students ", - Sergey Salikhov said.

According to Sergey Salikhov the new competitions will significantly increase the demands on the quality of applications, and the competition itself will be held in two stages. In the first stage applications will be appreciated via science metrics and other criteria. Those admitted to the second phase will undergo international expertise.

An important feature of the competition is that off-budget co-financing has ceased to be compulsory, even though its presence might be for the applicant's competitive advantage as the ability to demonstrate that the organization is ready to maintain a new science lab.

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"Extension of the program until 2020 will allow us to hold the fifth and sixth contests, as well as to extend the projects of the fourth and fifth contests", - Alexander Ladny said, who is Deputy Director of the Department of Science and Technology of Ministry of Education of Russia.

The ministry, he said, will try to accommodate the wishes of universities and research organizations, as reflected in the "package of evaluation criteria" for applications to be submitted to the new competition.

Up to six months time for formation of the application has been extended and two months  is term for signing the contract, which is sufficient to search for leading researchers and drawing up agreements with them, as well as to draw up the necessary documents, and to create conditions for the start of the new laboratory, Alexander Ladny said.

To the list of science fields, in which such laboratories may be set up, space science and space exploration were included. Industrial and environmental technologies are combined in a single field.

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The winners who are not subordinate to the Ministry of Education funding will be transferred directly, reducing the deadline to receive money for creation of laboratories, the Deputy Director of the Department of Science and Technology of Ministry of Education and Science of Russia informed.

Also there is a possibility to substitute the lead researcher (in case of serious illness or death) for another scientist -with high productivity and working on the same research topics, which will allow the lab to continue the research.

The requirements for the period of full-time leadership of the Russian laboratory. For foreign scientists this period was increased from 120 to 180 days per year, and for those who will work in Moscow and St. Petersburg this period is extended to 360 days. The latter essentially means that the researcher must move to the city and arrange for a permanent job in a university or research organization for a period of three years -or more in the case of the extension period of the laboratory.

The organization, which creates a scientific laboratory, must commit themselves not only to provide suitable premises for work, but also to provide conditions for the development of the laboratory for at least three years after the end of "megagrant".

Accepting applications for the fifth competition to attract leading scientists to Russian universities and research institutions will be completed at the end of May 2016. The Ministry of Education and Science is planning to announce the contest results at the third international forum "Science of the future - the young science," which will be held in September this year in Kazan.

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