Dmitry Medvedev’s address:
Good afternoon friends, colleagues, guests. First of all, I’d like to welcome everyone to our first international innovation forum. This is my duty as Prime Minister of Russia. This is an integrated forum where many scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers, and journalists from different countries have gathered. It has a wonderful motto. I have heard only ten or fifteen minutes of the discussion, but I would like to say a few words on how I assess the current situation. If I repeat something or if you hear something that you have already heard, please don’t judge me too harshly.
At this moment I’d like to say the following to all the forum participants, to our guests, and, of course, representatives of the business community, both Russian and foreign. I want us to give a clear signal that the continuity of our policies for the modernisation and innovative development of our economy is guaranteed, that we are not swerving from the course, that it depends neither on the current situation nor political preferences, nor even the state of our economy, although these are related matters, of course.
Secondly, I would like to hear your assessments of what is currently underway in Russia. I suppose this will be done during the forum. We must discuss Russia’s current plans and objectives. We must strengthen the ties that we have established recently, which may be the most valuable thing we have achieved. And it is important to attract new people into this cooperation, of course. I am sure the results will be positive along each of the avenues of cooperation. The reason is that everyone present here, our esteemed guests, may influence innovation policies of not only their country, but of Russia, too, and may be involved in the creation of an innovation-based economy in our country. We now speak a lot about the need to shift from a raw-material dependent economy to an innovation-based economy in Russia. This is an ambitious project which can be realised only if the entire nation unites around this idea, however pompous it may sound. There are many successful examples from the 20th and early 21st centuries that illustrate how rather ordinary countries, sometimes even backward ones, became major innovative players. They show that not only the Government or part of the business community, but also the country’s best minds should consolidate around this idea. Only in this case will the country become innovative and achieve success. I will not give examples, you know yourselves which countries I am talking about. I’d like Russia, too, to follow this idea and achieve this target.
Of course, a normal investment and innovation climate is essential if we are to make it. You know what we have been doing in recent years. We have formed a system of development-promotion institutions and have created an innovation lift of sorts. It is for you to judge how successful we are, but some parts of the system have been created anyway. We have established the Russian Venture Company and regional venture funds; the banking community, primarily Vneshekonombank as our primary financial development institution, is working in this area. We have Rusnano Company, which is very active in the market. Hopefully the Skolkovo Foundation will make a contribution as well. All of these institutions are interacting with foreign partners. The figures are also well-known. Let's be frank, they aren't too impressive, but they are quite good. I mean billions and hundreds of billions of roubles or tens of billions of dollars, which is a good indicator in itself. Our partners are all major players, which is a good thing, but we should enter into partnership with a variety of organisations. The more of these partners and innovators we work with, whether big, mid-sized or small, the better for this country's innovation development.
When I heard part of the discussion, it was about the role of the state and of education and science in the world of today, as well as the development of innovation products and the purchase of innovation products. The role of the state is very important, and this is obvious, as approved by all of my colleagues present here. I always say that the Russian state should play down its involvement in the economy because it is too strong in a number of areas. But where support for an innovation research and educational projects is concerned, our involvement might be somewhat different because innovation development cannot do without government support and regional involvement in any country.
I think we'll proceed from this assumption, but we will also keep in mind the criterion of reasonable sufficiency of government participation in some or other programmes. The government must create not only the conditions – the privileges, the right tax incentives, the investment parameters – but also, in some cases, take a direct role in some programmes. I don't see anything wrong here. However, it is another matter that the state in the broad sense of the word, the Government, must plan the right way to back out of this relationship. It should withdraw from a project in due time for it, if it is commercially viable, to begin living a life of its own. It was for this reason, incidentally, that I suggested reincorporating the state-run Rusnano Company as a joint-stock company, something we have done. And this is what I call a withdrawal strategy, a strategy for the state to withdraw from projects that begin following their own scenarios.
Our priorities are well-known: I laid them out several years ago. This doesn't mean that there aren't others, but these are very important.
They include energy efficiency, information, space and biomedical technologies and the nuclear industry. Actually, Russia has some rather influential positions in these areas. But this does not mean that we should only look in this direction. Of course, we should deal with all aspects. By the way, our favourite subject, namely, hydrocarbons and commodity deliveries, refining and processing, is also linked with innovative development. The commodity sector can also be perceived as an innovation sector, if this does not refer to banal crude oil exports, but if this means new technologies using commodity resources, including those hydrocarbons which are quite plentiful in Russia. Consequently, we also need technologies in this sphere.
It is very important that national innovation projects should develop in various regions, and not just in Moscow, St Petersburg and several other major centres, because otherwise this would produce no results. Obviously, the best-educated specialists live in major cities, but there are many talented people in other places, too. And it is our task to try to correctly allocate resources and help those who live and work in provincial areas – those who, for some reason, don’t want to go to the Russian capital (and perhaps this is a good thing), and who would like to implement innovative business projects in their home regions.
The world is changing. Our colleagues who have succeeded in this sphere have told me about this. It is very important that Russia should not remain behind the steam locomotive and on the sidelines of development. We must simply work in order to accomplish this objective, we must try to be modern, and, of course, this might be partially linked with the specifics of our state, but I would like to stress once again that state attention towards this issue is extremely important. We have such a large and very complicated country. It appears that our country will be unable to ensure fully-fledged innovative development, unless specific priorities are charted. My government colleagues and I will certainly devote the maximum possible attention to this aspect, and we will provide the maximum possible support. Russia must have its say in this world, and I am very grateful to all those who are helping us to accomplish this.
I wish the forum successful work in the next few days. I am confident that its results will be quite interesting and encouraging. Thank you very much.