Biotechnology forum in Kirov.
Dmitry Medvedev’s speech:
Good afternoon, colleagues and friends. First, I am happy to welcome you all to the now international forum BioKirov 2014. It is being held for the second time. It is good that it has already attracted the attention of researchers, representatives of biotechnology companies and public organisations. I think it is clear to everyone why Kirov was chosen as the host city for the forum. Historically, this region has been engaged in developing biotechnology, and it wants to continue to do so in the future, as demonstrated by the large number of projects and presentations I just saw. Usually, when you go to such events, you have some scepticism about what you’re being shown. But when you see the real thing, you know it is something that can be successful and eventually translate into modern production, money and jobs. This is exactly what we need.
Dmitry Medvedev: "It is clear that biomass is one of the most promising renewable sources of energy. It can be found where there are woods, agricultural production and industrial waste. The main challenge is to use these resources in a smart way."
I’m not going to give a lecture on bioeconomics and biotechnology. We all know how popular this field is these days; biotechnology is widely used in energy, traditional industries, medicine and agriculture. The potential of this research is obviously huge. According to the experts, it is one of the world’s most rapidly developing markets. I’m not sure I have the exact figures, maybe my colleagues will correct me, but in 2013, the market stood at about $260 billion, and the average annual growth rate exceeded 11percent. These are, of course, very solid figures.
Dmitry Medvedev: "Last year, a roadmap was approved to promote biotechnology and genetic engineering until 2020. Our objective is quite ambitious – to increase the contribution of the biotech industry to around 1% of the country’s GDP by 2020 and 3% by 2030."
Russia has abundant biomass reserves, which means that our country is destined to be among the top global players in this segment. However, we still have to import many finished products, which is an issue. Therefore, Russia has to master high-level biomass processing. That’s where the R&D capacity that Russia has created and is still creating as we speak will come in handy.
It is clear that biomass is one of the most promising renewable sources of energy. It can be found where there are woods, agricultural production and industrial waste. The main challenge is to use these resources in a smart way. That said, we have grown so accustomed to conventional energy sources that we often fail to seize the potential of this industry. Furthermore, make no mistake, efforts to promote such technology will face resistance, since those profiting from selling conventional energy will hardly welcome such initiatives. This is a battle of ideas and to some extent a question of promoting the necessary projects, lobbying for them, if you like. However, from a national perspective there is no doubt that we are committed to promoting such projects. No matter how much fossil fuel we have, no matter how developed our nation is as an energy supplier, we still need to promote biotechnology. We have to invest in this industry and develop R&D, because otherwise when the next technological revolution comes, we may be left behind, with gas and oil undermining our competitiveness. This much is obvious, but I still wanted you to hear it from me. We will definitely step up efforts in this area.
I would like to remind you that the Government has already embarked on these efforts. Last year, a roadmap was approved to promote biotechnology and genetic engineering until 2020. Our objective is quite ambitious – to increase the contribution of the biotech industry to around 1% of the country’s GDP by 2020 and 3% by 2030.
I would also like to remind you that only recently, in February 2014, I chaired a presidium meeting of the Council for Economic Modernisation and Innovative Development in Belgorod, during which we discussed ways to promote cutting-edge biotech solutions. This is to say that the Government is now actively working on this. I hope that regional government bodies will follow suit.
The decisions that are being taken are expected to enable us to devise national standards for this industry. The Federal Agency for Technical Regulation and Metrology established a special committee within its structure to work on standards for the biotech industry. The Government issued various instructions with respect to the development of biomass energy sources.
To implement all these initiatives, all federal bodies must work together with the regions. I think that a number of regions could implement pilot projects and become trailblazers, and the Kirov Region is one of them. In fact, all conditions are in place. Only a few moments ago my colleagues told me that the intellectual capital inherited from the Soviet times was not lost despite the challenging times. It is essential that we get everyone who’s interested involved in this work.
This forum is hosted by a university. It is great that biotechnology is offered here. I was told that it is one of the main departments. Young people should take notice of this sector. By the way, I’ve just learned that more people are seeking to enrol in biotech-related courses after a number of decisions paved the way for the establishment of bioclusters, including in the Kirov Region. Today’s youth are very pragmatic. There is no way that they will choose an industry with bleak employment opportunities and low pay. Everyone must take note of these developments, and above all the business community.
In order for us to succeed, the government and the business community must maintain a constant and effective dialogue at the regional and federal level. I’m confident that the BioKirov forum will provide a timely and inspiring platform for facilitating these efforts. I wish you every success!