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Cablegate: Integrating Russian Science and Education Key to Innovation

VZCZCXRO1307
RR RUEHAST RUEHDBU RUEHDH RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD RUEHSL
RUEHTM RUEHTRO RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #2885/01 3310725
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 270725Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5504
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG 5518
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 3742
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 3390
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUCPDC/NOAA WASHDC
RUEAEPA/HQ EPA WASHDC
RUEHC/DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 002885

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR OES/OA, OES/STC, OES/PCI, OES/SAT, EUR/ACE, EUR/RUS,
EUR/PGI, EUR/PRA, ISN/CTR
OSTP FOR HOLDREN, ROLF
STATE PLEASE PASS TO NASA, USAID, AND NSF
HHS PLEASE PASS TO NIH and CDC
DOC PLEASE PASS TO NOAA
DOI PLEASE PASS TO USFWS AND NPS AND USGS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TSPL TNGD KPAO OEXC SCUL SOCI PGOV RS

SUBJECT: INTEGRATING RUSSIAN SCIENCE AND EDUCATION KEY TO INNOVATION
AND SKILLED NANOTECHNOLOGY WORKFORCE

REF: A) Moscow 2782 B) Moscow 0333

MOSCOW 00002885 001.2 OF 003


Sensitive but Unclassified, Not for Internet Distribution

1. (SBU) Summary: At an October 8 panel during the Second
International NanoForum, Russian policy makers, scientists,
educators and entrepreneurs discussed how to develop Russia's high
technology economy and its nanotechnology workforce. President
Medvedev told Forum participants on October 6 that Russia needs
100,000-150,000 trained nanotechnology specialists to become a
global nanotechnology leader, instructing the Ministry of Education
and Science to make producing them one of its top priorities.
Panelists proposed bringing PhD scientists back into high schools
and universities to improve the quality of science education and to
motivate students to pursue science careers and called for
additional university-based nanotechnology educational and research
centers. They agreed that Russia will not be able to develop its
nano-industry unless it adopts a more interdisciplinary approach to
nano education, improves interaction between science and business,
and expands inter-university and inter-institutional cooperation
within Russia and with foreign universities and research centers.
END SUMMARY

Academicians -- Go Back to School!
----------------------------------

2. (U) On October 8, the third and final day of the Russian
Corporation for Nanotechnologies (Rusnano) Second International Nano
Forum, Alexander Khlunov, Deputy Minister of the Russian Ministry of
Education and Science (MES), chaired a well-attended "Science and
Education" panel discussion. In his opening remarks, he stressed
the importance of improving the quality of high tech education in
Russia. He noted that Russian cosmonaut Yuriy Gagarin's successful
flight resulted in a greater emphasis on math and science education
in U.S. secondary schools, an investment that proved quite effective
for the United States. Khlunov stated that the overall trend in
Russia over the last decade has been a reduction in the quality of
high school science teachers. Another presenter pointed out that
the number of specialized science courses offered at gymnasiums,
lyceums and secondary schools has actually risen, perhaps to
compensate for lower quality teaching standards. To improve science
education, Khlunov and rectors and vice-rectors from leading Russian
science universities emphasized that MES's main goal should be
better integration of science and education, with PhD scientists
(academicians) required to teach in both secondary and higher
education institutions. Some presenters suggested that the Russian
Academy of Sciences (RAS) and its institutions be transformed into
academic universities, with academicians required to teach daily.
Khlunov said the only way to awaken curiosity in hard science is to
bring academicians and scientists back into the classroom to
interact with young students. Panelists complained that Russian
scientists have become overly focused on money, paying too much
attention to getting awards and grants. Curiosity, not profit,
should be the driving force behind scientific research and
development, declared Khlunov.

4. (U) To develop an innovative economy and a national
nanotechnology network, Khlunov argued that Russia must get rid of
the artificial separation between science and education. Professors
are needed to teach nanotechnologies and nanomaterials in order to
bridge the gap between universities, research and development, and
private business. Aleksandr Gorbatsevich, RAS corresponding member
and Vice President of Saint Petersburg's Physico-Technological
Research and Education Center (REC), proposed that Russia increase

MOSCOW 00002885 002.2 OF 003


mandatory school attendance from 11 to 12 years and establish
science-focused secondary schools, including boarding schools,
attached to leading research institutes and universities in Russia.

Needed: 100,000 - 150,000 Nano Specialists
-------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) In his October 6 speech at the Forum's opening plenary
session, President Medvedev called on MES to train 100,000-150,000
nanotechnology specialists that Russia needs now, but did not offer
any specific proposals on how this could be done. Panel experts
agreed that Russia's shortage of trained personnel remains a
significant barrier to serious nanotechnology engagement. Khlunov
called MES's October 7 announcement of its selection of 12 new
national research universities an important step in creating a
trained nanotechnology workforce for Russia's fledgling
nanotechnology industry. (Note: A May 2008 presidential decree
designated two prominent Moscow universities, National University of
Science and Technology (MISIS) and Moscow Engineering and Physics
Institute (MIFI) as national research universities. The now 14
national research universities will receive approximately $6 million
of federal funding over 5-10 years, as long as they raise additional
private source funding. They are to train Ph.D. specialists,
develop science research, and increase international high tech
cooperation. In addition, President Medvedev signed a law on
November 11 granting Moscow State University and St. Petersburg
State University special status as unique scientific and educational
centers. Their rectors will be appointed by either the President of
Russia or other federal agencies and they can now develop and
implement educational programs based on their own self-defined
standards and requirements. End Note.)

6. (SBU) Khlunov commented that the scientific community has
favorably received the initiative to create national research
universities, which should generate greater opportunities for
partnership and exchanges between Russian and foreign universities.
MISIS Rector Dmitriy Livanov told the audience that he hired a U.S.
professor to be the first foreign vice-rector at a Russian
university to help spearhead MISIS's efforts to become a world-class
research institution, akin to Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. (Note: The American Vice Rector of Academic Affairs
told EST he was optimistic that MISIS' status as a national research
university would help it to strengthen ties with the business
community to secure GOR-mandated co-funding for high-tech research.
He said that MISIS welcomed the law passed by the Federation Council
on July 27 that allows universities and institutes to commercialize
R&D results by establishing small innovative enterprises, because it
provides a potential source of revenue. End Note.)

7. (SBU) Representatives of Russian universities on the panel,
including Yevgeniy Chuprunov, Rector of Nizhniy Novgorod University,
and Aleksey Khokhlov, Vice-Rector of Moscow State University,
suggested that one way to realize President Medvedev's goal of
creating a large nano workforce was to establish additional
university-based educational and research and development centers
specialized on nanotechnology. Certain Russian institutes of higher
learning, including MISIS and St. Petersburg State University of
Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics (ITMO), have
established centers to integrate education, R&D and business, but
they are not dedicated to nanotechnology. After a presentation by
scientists from Penn State's Center for Nanotechnology Education and
Utilization, rectors Khokhlov and Chuprunov boasted that Moscow
State University has a comparable Research and Education
Nano-Center, and that Nizniy Novgorod University established the

MOSCOW 00002885 003.2 OF 003


first of its two nano centers in 1998. (Note: The university
rectors did not say how many specialists these centers are training.
End note.) Viktor Avdeyev, Deputy General Director of Composite
Company, proposed creating an international education and
engineering center to train specialists who are able to synthesize
knowledge and manage nanotechnology projects. Panelists unanimously
agreed with Khlunov's conclusion that in order to develop its
nano-industry, Russia needs to adopt a more interdisciplinary
approach to nano education, improve interaction between science and
business, and expand inter-university and inter-institutional
cooperation within Russia and with foreign universities and research
centers. (Note: On October 22, Rusnano announced it will conduct
open tenders in a new program to develop a network of up to 20
nanotechnology centers. It is planning to invest 19 billion rubles
(approximately 640 million USD) in these centers in 2009 and 5.8
billion rubles (approximately 200 million USD) in 2010. In
November, Rusnano issued a grant of 12 million rubles (approximately
415,000 USD) to St. Petersburg's Institute of Chemistry and
Silicates to train nanotechnology specialists for St. Petersburg
enterprises. End note.)

8. (SBU) Comment: In his November 12 state of the nation speech,
President Medvedev reiterated his conviction that science and
innovation can help Russia rid itself of its "humiliating raw
materials dependence." There have been a spate of initiatives in
recent months to improve science education and innovation. EST
interlocutors agree that federal funding for the 14 new national
research universities will help, but it is still unclear if
universities will be able to raise matching funds from private
sources and launch profitable innovative enterprises. In order to
achieve its lofty goal of a 20 billion euro (approximately 30
billion US dollars) production volume for Russian nano-industry by
2015, the Russian government still has a long way to go to bridge
the gap between science and education, expand research cooperation
with foreign partners in international projects, create a system of
national standards and regulations for the nano field, and
commercialize findings. It will also have to address corruption and
stop the flight of young Russian scientists to non-science positions
in Russian business firms and overseas employment. Our Rusnano
contacts could not tell us how Medvedev derived the number of
100,000-150,000 trained nano personnel that Russia supposedly needs.
Although Rusnano and some universities have begun to develop
specialized nano educational and innovative centers, they are
unlikely to be able to churn out even close to this figure. But
once they are "produced," new high-tech professionals are unlikely
to stay in Russian science unless Rusnano and other innovative firms
can create sufficiently high-paying positions with adequate
laboratories for them to do so. End Comment.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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