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September 24 | Innovation

Science for the Future Conference Closed in Kazan

"We joked that h-index of Kazan had been simply transcendent these days", - Sergei Salikhov, director of the Department of Science and Technology, noted after the closing ceremony of the II International Conference "Science of the Future", held in Kazan from the 20th to the 23rd of September. More than 1300 participants from different countries discussed the most topical issues in various fields – from natural sciences to humanities.

The aim of the conference was to unite renown scientists from 42 countries, as well as young scientists, undergraduate and graduate students. “Winners of the competitions among the students, representatives of megagrant’s laboratories, visiting scientists from all over the world, entrepreneurship and representatives of academic community of Russia, not related to megagrants, journalists got together here to feel interest in various fields based on their own program”, - Alexei Kavokin, co-chair of the program Committee of the conference, stressed.

One of the key points of the conference was the announcement of the scientists who won the fifth competition to get megagrants. In the new "wave" there are 40 winners. But the focus was on young scientists.

“Nothing can better motivate young people to go on this difficult path than the interest. It’s about the interest to comprehend the mysteries of nature, learn new things, - Igor Abrikosov, the winner of the first competitions of megagrants, materials specialist, said. - And, of course, it’s very important to organize events like this conference to unite scientists, helping young scientists to feel that they are members of a big research family.”

At the closing ceremony the winners of the contest of the student works were named. The contest was held within the framework of the conference and included 10 fields. In addition, seven young participants have become candidates for a grant under the program "UMNIK" by Innovation funding agency, supporting young entrepreneurs in high technology areas.

“We have our own team and we want to develop our own device, - Alexander Hnysch, who got the award in both categories for the project to develop a technical vision for the car, explained. - Our task is to make some kind of device - "advise system", which can be integrated into any car.”

The quality of presented works and their growth were estimated by jurors. Many of them performed the function at previous conferences in St. Petersburg and Sevastopol. But Alexei Kavokin, who oversaw the area of “Physics and Astronomy”, added “fly in the ointment”. According to him, there are no much reports done in English. While English is the language of international scientific communication. Future great scientists must be excellent at it.

A day earlier, megagrant’s scientists met with the heads of largest scientific foundations within a framework of the conference. Andrei Fursenko, Assistant to Russian President, and Sergei Salikhov, director of the Department of Science and Technology of Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, took part in the meeting.

General director of the Russian Scientific Foundation (RSF) Alexander Khlunov reported on a number of measures being taken by RSF, to make the procedures for the selection and examination of applications as transparent as possible and more effective. “In 2015, the Foundation significantly revised the composition of the expert body. Following the wishes of the grantees, throughout the year we have been attracting more than a thousand foreign scientists to the expert body - in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and the humanities. I must say that foreign experts, as opposed to domestic, evaluate each study much more rigidly. But objectivity for us is always in the first place, - Khlunov explains. - In 2017, RSF will conduct large-scale online survey of all grantees and experts of the foundation to listen to all comments and suggestions, including issues about candidacies for the expert body. Results of the survey will be discussed at a meeting of the Supervisory board of the foundation.”

Vladislav Panchenko, chairman of the Council of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, said about the support of young scientists: “Of course, eminent scientists automatically are more likely to win our grant, because they have more knowledge, experience and publications. But there are various programs to support ideas of young specialists in our fund for a long time. For example, it’s the program “My first grant”. Every year it gets about 7000 applications. The winners receive one million rubles for two years. One-third of these applications are supported by the foundation. In addition, we have a support program for young PhDs, postdocs support program, which provides young scientists a choice - to continue research at the institute, or to move to another scientific organization.”

Andrei Grigoriev, general director of the Advanced Research Foundation (ARF), informed about the details of the collaboration with the scientists: “Our foundation was established to conduct breakthrough research and development in the interests of national defense and state security. That's why we have not quite normal evaluation system and methods of financing. After filing of an application, an internal examination is conducted, where a decision is made about its compliance of goals and objectives of the fund.

The peculiarity is in the fact that each idea should offer a holistic solution to a specific task or problem, with detailed justification and evidence-base of effective implementation of the project. After the application is approved, it goes to the Expert council, which is formed on the proposals of the leading designers and Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation. Our financing form isn’t a grant.

If the idea is flawless and efficient, ARF provides full funding for the entire lab.

We constantly carry out a series of open competitions for young scientists who work in the field of physical and technical research of high-speed means, IT solutions in the field of cyber security, chemical and biological developments for promising medicine.”

Also the meeting was dedicated to such

topical issues, equally interesting to key Russian and foreign scientists, as a fate of research teams of the laboratories, created with the help of megagrants, financing volumes and conditions of the various competitions.

“I believe that today's discussion, held in the format of a free exchange of views, was productive. Open dialogue helped foundation managers to deliver key information to their main destinations, tell about the features of funding and research priorities. For grantees, both real and potential, the meeting helped to express their wishes,”- Sergei Salikhov, director of the Department of Science and Technology of Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, commented results of the meeting.

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