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Science of the Future Chronicles

Perhaps, the most important scientific event of the year in Russia – the 2nd International Conference “Science of the Future” started in the Kazan Federal University. This unique platform gathered the top Russian and foreign scientists, experts from the humanities to the nuclear physicists. According to presidential aide Andrei Fursenko, the main task of the conference is the revival of the quality of national science.

Symbolically, the event was preceded by a meeting of Vladimir Putin with ten scientists, winners of numerous grants in Kazan, at which the president marked the success of the program. According to the decree of the Russian Government №220 the program of megagrants was designed for the period until 2020 with funding from the federal budget of 30 billion rubles, but the head of state urged to think about the prospects of its continuation.

As the co-chair of the Program Committee of “Science of the Future” Alexei Kavokin said, the first conference dedicated to megagrants was held two years ago in St. Petersburg. Since then, it became clear that it shouldn’t be limited to a discussion of this program. “This conference has shown the need for a general scientific forum in Russia,” - he said. So today the core theme of megagrant conference “Science of the Future” is setting the tone for the interdisciplinary and international communication, but in addition to it there is still many activities, primarily the ones of the youth.

Alexey_Lopatin Alexey Lopatin

“Today, representatives of many scientific disciplines, outstanding scientists from around the world, winners of the most prestigious scientific awards are gathered in this hall. You have chosen a difficult, but very interesting and honorable work of the researcher. This is not just a job, it’s fate, -

the Deputy Minister of Education and Science of the Russian Federation Alexey Lopatin addressed the audience. - Your discoveries, your scientific achievements form the shape of a common future of humanity".

According to Lopatin, 100 heads of laboratories established under megagrant program attended the meeting, ready to share their experiences with young colleagues.

To date, the program created 160 laboratories in 35 regions of the country in which 17.5 billion rubles were invested, according to Director of the Department of Science and Technology of Ministry of Education of Russia, Sergey Salikhov. And half of them are of pronounced applied nature, he added. “The most important thing is that this program has given completely new standards in the scientific examination”, - said Salikhov, because peer review system of megagrants is known for its transparency, and each application is assessed, not only by Russian but also by foreign experts.

Sergey_Salikhov Sergey Salikhov

“These labs have become unconditional points of growth for university science and academic science”, - the director of the department said. In particular, the megagrant program contributed to the development of such areas in Russia as biotechnology and the social sciences. It is “responsible” for a significant rejuvenation of scientific personnel and the growth of the prestige of the profession of the scientist. In laboratories, established under megagrant program, a third of the staff are students, graduate students and young doctors of sciences.

In addition to the creation of new laboratories, the first day of the conference “Science of the Future” will discuss the issue of state support of existing laboratories “on a continual basis with the minimum required volume of financing,” - Sergey Salikhov said.

The main intrigue of the event is the announcement of new members of the program. At the conference the names of 40 winners of the fifth stage of the competition for funding under the program to attract leading scientists to Russian universities and scientific organizations (the megagrant program) were announced. Thus, the number of state-supported projects reached 200. The competition results were announced by the Council for Grants of the Government of the Russian Federation in the framework of the 2nd International Conference “Science of the Future”, which runs from 20 to 23 September in Kazan.

The director of the Department of Science and Technology of Ministry of Education of Russia, Sergey Salikhov, informed that in the new competition, the quality requirements of the above applications became more severe than in the previous one. At the first stage, the applications were selected by scientometric indices, and the finalists were assessed by experts, including foreign ones. “In total, 542 applications were submitted, 484 of which were allowed. The finalists include 242 projects from 31 fields of science,” - he said at a press conference. The list of winners can be found on the program site.

Most projects have been supported by traditional Russian areas: the leaders of Physics (five projects) and materials technologies (four projects).

Other three winning projects were in biology, mechanics and mechanical engineering, as well as energy and environmental management. The projects in the field of computer and information science are among the lead two projects.

The remaining 20 projects were distributed among other areas (there were 31). Unlike previous contests of the megagrant program, this time we have allocated space science and space exploration, but united in them in one direction of industrial and environmental technology.

The total budget of the supported projects amounted to 1.2 billion rubles. 30 million rubles for three years will be annually allocated for the financing of each of them.

“The megagrant program is one of the most effective on the scientific performance - Sergey Salikhov said. - There is less than 1% of the budget that is allocated for science, in general, and 3% for publications”.

The final discussion was active, and finished late in the evening. “All things being equal, we favored regions, as well as applications that concerned advanced, cutting-edge areas of science,” - the member of the Grants Council, Head of the Laboratory of the Institute of Problems of Mechanical Engineering, Alexander Fradkov, said.

Among the winners there were 20 projects that would be carried out at the universities, subordinated to the Ministry of Education of Russia, 10 projects – at Institutions of Federal Agency for Scientific Organizations, two projects - at Moscow State University and St. Petersburg State University. 12 new labs will be established in Moscow, six - in St. Petersburg, four - in Novosibirsk.

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