Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Moscow Providing Fundamental Science Too Little Money for Russia to Become Economically Competitive, Lenchuk Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 29 – The Russian government’s projected spending on fundamental research over the next decade will not be enough to allow the Russian economy to compete effectively with others, according to Elena Lenchuk, director of the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

            According to her, “fundamental science is under threat as a result of the reforming of the Russian Academy of Sciences, continuing underfinancing, and efforts to rate the contribution of fundamental research on the basis of metrics” (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/v-ran-zayavili-o-razrushenii-rossiyskoy-nauki-iz-za-nedofinansirovaniya-1031008289).

            In 2019, Russia spent only 0.17 percent of its GDP on fundamental research, a pitiful amount, Lenchuk says; but tragically if the government’s plans are not changes by 2030 it will be spending “significantly less.” And that will cast a dark shadow on the Russian economy long into the future.

            The Kremlin’s desire “to copy the West and shift all science to higher educational institutions isn’t something that will have good prospects,” she continues, because most scientific research there is intertwined with the educational process, while basic science in the Academy is directed “at the solution of economic tasks” over the long term.

            The problems of underfinancing are compounded in Russia, Lenchuk says, because there is no clear policy on scientific research and because the direction of such research remains divided among a wide variety of ministries which often have conflicting goals.

            “In developed countries, scientific-technological and innovation policies are an inalienable part of industrial policy,” the economist says; but in Russia today, that is not the case. And as a result, Russia is not getting the benefits that the existence and implementation of such a policy can bring.

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