Cover Image

HARDBACK
$38.75



View/Hide Left Panel

5
Supporting Innovation: From Basic Research to Payment for Sales

Every business participates in technological change as an originator, user, or victim of technological invention and innovation.

National Academy of Engineering, 1992

In 1999 the National Research Council assembled a panel of American scientists, economists, and experts on Russia to consider the future of U.S.-Russian interacademy cooperation. They immediately questioned whether the United States in general and the NRC in particular should waste time and effort addressing problems in Russia in view of the fact that the indigenous Russian technology was unlikely to benefit the United States or even contribute significantly to economic development in Russia. According to the panelists, globalization of the process of development and use of modern technology was taking place in Europe and Asia. The NRC should therefore concentrate its efforts in those regions. They went on to argue that Russia will not reemerge as an industrial power anytime soon, but will remain primarily a source of natural resources and high-quality cheap technical labor that can be exploited from afar. They concluded, nevertheless, that the “intangible” benefits of interacademy cooperation were manifold and included strengthening political relations between the two countries. Therefore, cooperation in civilian-oriented areas should continue and indeed expand.1

1  

This meeting of experts was held at the National Research Council in March 1999.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 63
Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation 5 Supporting Innovation: From Basic Research to Payment for Sales Every business participates in technological change as an originator, user, or victim of technological invention and innovation. National Academy of Engineering, 1992 In 1999 the National Research Council assembled a panel of American scientists, economists, and experts on Russia to consider the future of U.S.-Russian interacademy cooperation. They immediately questioned whether the United States in general and the NRC in particular should waste time and effort addressing problems in Russia in view of the fact that the indigenous Russian technology was unlikely to benefit the United States or even contribute significantly to economic development in Russia. According to the panelists, globalization of the process of development and use of modern technology was taking place in Europe and Asia. The NRC should therefore concentrate its efforts in those regions. They went on to argue that Russia will not reemerge as an industrial power anytime soon, but will remain primarily a source of natural resources and high-quality cheap technical labor that can be exploited from afar. They concluded, nevertheless, that the “intangible” benefits of interacademy cooperation were manifold and included strengthening political relations between the two countries. Therefore, cooperation in civilian-oriented areas should continue and indeed expand.1 1   This meeting of experts was held at the National Research Council in March 1999.

OCR for page 63
Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation In addition to the security reasons rooted in many aspects of science and technology for U.S. involvement in Russia (see Chapter 4), several responses can be made to the limited vision of near-term technology initially set forth by this group of experts. These responses include the following: The scientific base of Russia may be in a fractured state, and half of the vast repositories of industrial equipment may be obsolete, but many examples of significant Russian contributions to international science and to the development of the products of multinational companies exist, even during the dismal 1990s. Although Russian technological prowess has become badly tarnished, a few well-honed patches shine through. The Russian leadership is determined to show that technology born and used in Russia can again become its engine of growth without the need for Western assistance from the international development banks or from foreign aid agencies. In the view of a somewhat overly optimistic but headstrong Russian government, there are many hopeful signs that the economy is beginning to move from one that is simply a source of natural resources and cheap technical labor to one that is knowledge-based as well. Determination, when followed by demonstrated commitment, will be a good first step toward success.2 Russia occupies one-seventh of the earth’s land surface, and many developments in Russia affect the United States. The release of environmental pollutants in the Arctic and in the world’s oceans, the cutting of forests serving as carbon sinks that help control greenhouse gases, and the spread of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases are all global issues that cannot be ignored. Also, such a large landmass will remain astride many international communications and transportation routes that rest on properly functioning modern technology, particularly at the nodes. And trade with many bordering countries, while currently limited, will have a growing influence on world markets. It is better for U.S. organizations to be actively engaged in investment activities and cooperative programs in a variety of fields than to sit on the sidelines, constantly guessing the future of the large, untapped Russian market, reacting to the next Russian technological surprise—whether it be a startling achievement or a technological catastrophe—or assessing the emergence of new science and economic partnerships with countries with 2   For an assessment of the state of industrial technology in Russia at the end of the 1990s, see McKinsey Global Institute (1999).

OCR for page 63
Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation questionable motivations (e.g., Syria, China, Iran). Technology is driving worldwide developments, and it makes sense for the U.S. government to attempt to influence the emergence and spread of Russian technologies in directions that promote U.S. interests. During the 1990s, the United States and many European governments agreed with this analysis and supported a large number of science and technology cooperative programs with Russia. They also aggressively promoted Western investments in Russian industrial development that they thought would turn a profit.3 They may have dismissed as unrealistic bravado some Russian predictions about the revival of Russian industry and agriculture, and they may have seen many cooperative projects fail to produce the promised results, but Western technology hunters, encouraged by their governments, have steadfastly observed research and production facilities, watching and waiting for a technology revival while keeping a tight rein on their pocketbooks.4 In the late 1990s, both Western government and private sector organizations began to move toward strengthening ties with individual Russian specialists, while minimizing the direct involvement in cooperative projects of the leaders, accountants, and midlevel managers of the Russian institutes or companies where the specialists were employed. In the view of the Westerners, these “overhead” people would only reduce the amount of funds available for real work. Salary payments were therefore increasingly made directly to the Russian specialists and not through their organizations. The specialists were provided with trips to the United States and Western Europe, and they were even given credit cards and health insurance by some Western companies. In some of its programs, the NRC adopted the approach of supporting individual scientists while seeking only the general approval of the management of their organizations. Indeed, almost all Western organizations, including the NRC, assumed that the Russian institutions serving as the base of operations for the highly talented Russian specialists would somehow find the funds needed to continue their operations. Overhead and maintenance of the physical infrastructures of organizations were exclusively Russian problems, contended most Western collaborators. Even when telephones 3   See, for example, OECD (1994). 4   For a discussion of innovation problems that must be addressed if this revival is to occur, see OECD (2001).

OCR for page 63
Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation were disconnected and electricity was turned off at Russian facilities no longer able to pay for these services, these Western partners remained firm in their insistence that the problems had to be solved by the institutions themselves. INDIVIDUAL EXCHANGE PROGRAMS In recent decades, the NRC conducted five exchange programs between individual specialists from the United States and Russia. Three of these programs, which seemed important at the time, were short-lived. The funding bases were simply too weak to sustain the programs, because the priorities of the Departments of State and Energy and U.S. Agency for International Development, which were providing the financial support, were in a state of constant change. Moreover, the applicant pools for these programs were not deep. Finally, there were concerns that contacts established during the programs might pave the way for emigration to the United States. A fourth program of individual visits by biology researchers, which began in 2001, is still in its early stages. The fifth program, representing a modification of the interacademy scientific exchange program established in 1959, continues. A change in its objectives, an adjustment in its manner of implementation, and the continued interest of the National Science Foundation in providing support are among the reasons the program has continued. Three Short-Lived Programs and One New Start Beginning in the late 1980s, the U.S. Congress decided that the pool of American specialists with substantial knowledge of developments in the former Soviet Union should be expanded, and it has provided the Department of State with funds ever since to achieve this objective. Earlier chapters described several young investigator programs initiated by the NRC under this program. These activities involved sending groups of 6–10 specialists to the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to become familiar with developments in selected areas and to establish contacts that could lead to sustained collaboration. A variation of this initial approach was adopted by the NRC in the 1990s whereby individual American specialists interested in different policy issues—including policies with scientific dimensions in the environmental, economic, security, and other areas—traveled to the former Soviet Union, including Russia, and Eastern Europe, to pursue self-designed projects. About 20 scholars went to

OCR for page 63
Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation Russia for two to six weeks over a period of several years. Almost all reported positive results in terms of publications and valuable new contacts from their interactions. A second program brought 13 Russian researchers in scientific areas directly linked to nuclear waste management to U.S. universities for stays of up to one year. The NRC selected these participants on the basis of their knowledge of technologies that the Department of Energy might consider using in the United States. Although the pool of potential Russian participants with skills of direct relevance to the solution of U.S. waste problems seemed to be large, the number who could leave their positions in Russia for long periods was limited. It was simply difficult for the NRC to compete for their time with the more robust long-term programs of nuclear engagement being supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the European Union, and Russia itself. Moreover, American scientists were often reluctant to serve as hosts for long periods without additional salary funds for themselves. Early in the 1990s, USAID proposed that the NRC establish an exchange program for applied scientists from the former Soviet Union who would work in the United States on problems related to economic and social development. After USAID rejected an alternate NRC proposal that called for building centers of excellence in Russia and other former Soviet republics, the NRC acquiesced to USAID’s interest in bringing the specialists to the United States. The program was named CAST (Cooperation in Applied Science and Technology) to help distinguish it from the COBASE program (Cooperation in Basic Science and Engineering) discussed later in this chapter. The response of Russian applicants to the opportunity to spend time at U.S. universities reflected an intense interest among a few outstanding scientists in Russia both in staying abreast of U.S. achievements and in seeking alternatives to the decaying conditions in Russian laboratories. Among the applicants were many former Soviet weapons scientists. An internal NRC review of the five-year program gave high marks to most of the 150 exchange visitors—the participants were well qualified; 50 percent were under the age of 40; and the visits helped the host institutions to leverage other funds to expand or continue the collaboration. Over the longer term, however, reports of few opportunities to use newly acquired skills in Russia and of plans by Russian participants to emigrate began to increase. The program was terminated as USAID shifted its funding priorities in the hope that at least a few of the participants who had been supported would be-

OCR for page 63
Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation come important pillars of a revived research base in their home country (NRC, 1996b: 1, 1997d: 1). A fourth program of individual visits in the field of biological research began in 2001. It is too early to assess whether the approach is sound and the impacts significant, however. Specifically, at the request of the Department of Defense, the NRC has supported a dozen American biology researchers to undertake two-week visits to Russia to determine whether any activities under way on dangerous pathogens at former biological defense laboratories would be of interest to the Americans as topics for long-term collaboration. About half of the Americans have made useful contacts in Russia and have considered next steps for serious collaboration. However, such collaboration becomes complicated because of the sensitivity of the topics and the overlaps with other U.S. government programs at the facilities. Nevertheless, dangerous pathogens are an important subject, and discussions among government officials, host laboratories in Russia, and the American investigators are under way to chart a path for this type of collaboration. The Fifth Program: COBASE Continues Support of Basic Science The fifth program—Cooperation in Basic Science and Engineering (COBASE), supported by the National Science Foundation—continues the exchange program born in Soviet times, but in a significantly modified form. This travel grant program is administered on a regional basis to include specialists from most of the states of the former Soviet Union and from Eastern Europe teaming with American scientists. Although only 10–15 U.S.-Russian teams are selected in this competition each year, the quality of the participants is quite high, and the program has considerable value, symbolizing the importance of U.S.-Russian exchanges in the basic sciences. In the 1990s, two significant changes were made in the program’s approach: (1) a new emphasis on supporting projects that have a likelihood of leading to more ambitious follow-on exchanges supported directly by the NSF, and (2) limitations of eight weeks abroad for each exchange, although the eight-week period can be broken into two separate trips in either direction to better accommodate other commitments of the participants (the approach before these modifications called for a single trip and allowed for visits of up to six months). Seeking to gauge the impact of the program, the NRC staff routinely sends questionnaires to the American participants one year after their ex-

OCR for page 63
Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation TABLE 5-1 Results of Surveys of American Participants in COBASE Program (percent)   Survey Year FY 1998 FY 1999 FY 2000 Partners still in contact 95 94 95 American had publication or presentation based on program 69 67 58 American applied for follow-on grant 52 67 56 American received follow-on grant 24 33 28 Note: Surveys were conducted one year after completion of individual programs. Although the data cover exchanges involving a number of countries, exchanges involving only Russian scientists had about the same results. Source: COBASE program data. changes. The questionnaires ask, among other things: Has contact between the American and Russian specialists been maintained after completion of the exchange? Has the U.S.-Russian team applied for and received funding from other sources to continue the collaboration? Have the members of the team published papers, made conference presentations, or taken other steps to enhance their careers or contribute to the scientific community as a result of experiences during the exchange? The answers vary from year to year, but in general the lasting impact of many exchanges is impressive (see Table 5-1). As for trends in the program, the number of female applicants has increased only slightly in recent years, and they compete well for the available grants. Beginning investigators receive preferential treatment in the review process, but the number remains small. The limited duration of the visits of Russians to the United States has reduced the likelihood that the exchanges will encourage emigration, particularly because families almost never accompany short-term exchange visitors (see, for example, NRC [1998a: 17–18]). The results from individual exchanges such as the ones just described usually need time to materialize, and they are manifested in various ways such as joint publications and follow-on visits of other scientists or students. Occasionally, however, the results are evident immediately. Whatever the case, evaluations and measurements of success should not be based on rigid standards.5 5   For an indication of the scientific results of COBASE grantees, see www7.nationalacademies.org/dsc/COBASE_Current_Grantees.html.

OCR for page 63
Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation COMMERCIALIZATION OF TECHNOLOGY Many American companies now use Russian technologies, often with some form of U.S. government support. This support might take the form of government financing of feasibility studies, government loans for exports of U.S. equipment, government guarantees that foreign investments will not be nationalized, or diplomatic intervention when a commercial deal encounters bureaucratic resistance in Moscow. In the early 1990s, U.S. companies followed several investment routes in Russia, including organizing joint ventures, acquiring Russian firms, or establishing subsidiaries. Now the approaches used by most companies emphasize short-term contracts with Russian enterprises and specialists that minimize the U.S. funds at risk. In the research arena, Western businesses have adopted a variety of approaches. For example, the Boeing research center in Moscow provides facilities for researchers who remain employees of several Russian institutes. The Corning research center in St. Petersburg hires Russian scientists as Corning employees. In Moscow, the Schlumberger research center combines these two approaches: it funds scientists who remain affiliated with their Russian institutions and employs Russians who work at the center. The U.S. government has established programs within the Departments of Commerce, Energy, and State to encourage linkages between Russian researchers and U.S. firms. Although the importance of the training aspects of these programs cannot be denied, establishment of commercially viable linkages is a difficult challenge. Often the programs emphasize “technology push” (sometimes at Russian insistence), whereby Russians with technologies already in hand search for Western customers. Less often the programs emphasize “market pull,” whereby firms set forth their requirements and the Russian researchers respond to these needs. Since 1996 the NRC has been addressing the commercialization issue in a small but focused way. The NRC effort gives priority to improved linkages between Russian researchers and Russian firms, with the firms increasingly outsourcing research projects. The objective is not simply to commercialize technologies, but also to provide new job opportunities in the Russian manufacturing sector—opportunities produced by developing upgraded technologies locally for use in Russia. Many Russian researchers want to market their technologies abroad, but they should keep in mind the difficulties frequently encountered by Russian organizations that do not have stable customer bases in Russia: they are trying to operate abroad where many markets are fickle about suppliers and demand fluctuates.

OCR for page 63
Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation In the early 1990s, the National Academy of Engineering and the Russian Academy of Engineering (RAE), with the participation of the Russian Academy of Sciences, organized a workshop in Russia on the management of technology. The RAE assembled a group of industrial managers who, with considerable nostalgia, recalled earlier Soviet experience with systematically pushing technologies from research institutes to state enterprises without the constraints of competition and the need for careful economic analysis. The American participants emphasized the new responsibility of individual entrepreneurs to find paying customers or go out of business. Even though all participants agreed on the need for a new brand of management training in Russia, few ideas emerged on how technology development could thrive in the depressed economy of Russia. Thus, in the absence of new suggestions there was little enthusiasm for a follow-on activity (Kershenbaum, 1996). Several years later, the NRC and the RAS initiated a series of consultations and workshops revolving around the activities of small innovative firms in the two countries. They addressed problems facing Russian entrepreneurs such as changing tax policies, lack of sources of investment capital, and excessive licensing and inspection requirements. Russian counterparts had the opportunity to visit a variety of technology incubators and technoparks in North Carolina and the federal technology transfer center in Wheeling, West Virginia. American specialists consulted with researchers and entrepreneurs in Moscow, Zelenograd, St. Petersburg, Samara, and Obninsk. In all of these interactions, the interest of potential industrial customers in financing research and development activities was a central issue. Russian colleagues were impressed by the level of financial support provided by the U.S. government, through the Small Business Innovation Research program and other mechanisms, and by state agencies to small firms and research centers. In Russia, government support is often simply a token gesture. American participants were taken aback by the reluctance of many Russian entrepreneurs to engage in discussions of market needs with potential industrial customers before they invested their meager funds into technology development that might or might not find a market niche. At the same time, the Americans noted a generational gap between the old-style Soviet approach of many senior research managers, who felt marketing was someone else’s responsibility, and young entrepreneurs, who were willing to risk their own money, but only if they found acquaintances or at least contacts who seemed to be in a position to become paying

OCR for page 63
Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation customers for new technologies that could reduce customer costs quickly (NRC, 1998b, 2002c). As for the protection of intellectual property, the NRC and RAS can take considerable credit for the slow evolution of Western-oriented approaches in Russia that stimulate rather than discourage development of new technologies. The core issue has been the ownership of technology developed with the use of Russian government funds. There is little hope of untangling the confusion surrounding technology developed during the Soviet period that was incorporated into new products during the 1990s, but there is increasing acceptance of the concept that, for entirely new technologies, the government should give the patent rights at no cost to the institutions where the inventors are employed and that the inventors should receive a fair share of profits from the inventions that take hold. Indeed, as the exposure of key Russian government officials to U.S. approaches sharpened the debate in Russia on the eve of Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization, the Russian government adopted some principles of the Bayh-Dole legislation passed by the U.S. Congress (the legislation bestows on performing institutions the patent rights emanating from government-funded research).6 The NRC also can take credit for raising the level of awareness of the importance of market pull as a crucial complement to the traditional technology push approach in Russia. Although only a few Russians have fully accepted this idea, the message is slowly spreading that technologies should be developed to respond to real market needs defined by potential customers. Linked to this important concept has been the call by the academies for the establishment in Russia of industrial-university centers and industrial consortia that would strive to improve the process of using local capabilities to respond to technology needs. Interacademy consultations are sometimes cited in debates over these topics in Moscow. In 2000 the NRC and RAS launched an ambitious program to demonstrate how both modern approaches to research management and electronic networking technologies can strengthen the linkages between researchers of 6   For a discussion of the patent and related issues that have been addressed in the interacademy program, see Schweitzer (2000: Chap. 5). Discussions confirming the importance of the interacademy program were held with the director of the Russian Patent Agency in April 2003. For a discussion of issues about the Bayh-Dole legislation currently being raised in the United States (e.g., restriction of dissemination of academic research results, diverting faculty from basic to applied research), see Thursby and Thursby (2003).

OCR for page 63
Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation the RAS and Russian industrial clients—current and future. The idea was to upgrade the capabilities of two innovation centers within the RAS to respond to the interests of Russian companies willing to finance research that improves company profitability. One center, located within the firm Petrocom at the Institute for Control Sciences, was already well along in establishing an impressive customer base. The second center, located at the Institute for the Geology of Minerals (IGEM), was in an embryonic stage. Petrocom, which is linked financially with the Honeywell company, has many customers within the Russian petrochemical industry who use sophisticated control technologies in optimizing refinery and related activities. Also, there is considerable interest in Russia and abroad in Petrocom’s software packages for training refinery operators. The objective in focusing the interacademy effort on this center was, first, to encourage Petrocom to expand its horizons, build on its past successes, and significantly expand its activities to encompass a larger number of clients and a larger cadre of researchers serving these clients, and, second, to provide a successful model that could be emulated in some respects at IGEM and indeed by still more centers in the future. The main focus of the project, however, was on the center at IGEM. The concept implemented at IGEM quickly attracted interest in both Russia and the United States, and the limited funding available to the NRC for upgrading IGEM electronic networking capabilities was supplemented by funding from Russian, international, and U.S. sources. IGEM followed two tracks as its networking capability was upgraded. First, it strengthened its ties with several paying customers, primarily through direct consultations but also through conferences bringing together government officials, industrialists, and researchers to talk about general concepts for interaction and specific research activities of mutual interest. Second, IGEM scientists began to build digitized databases from the enormous amount of data collected over several decades on the natural resource potential of the country. IGEM wanted to be in a strong position to provide advice to customers on both proposed industrial development strategies and strategies that had not yet occurred to them. As noted earlier, the results of cooperative efforts may not be evident for years. If this project achieves its original goals, IGEM and its industrial clients should be beneficiaries well into the future. Also, other RAS institutes, having learned about the project, are lining up to emulate the IGEM experience, although each case presents unique requirements and challenges.

OCR for page 63
Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation In a stunning development in November 2003, the Norilsk Nickel Company committed to provide $30 million annually for 5 years for research support by the institutes of the RAS. The RAS attributes this commitment in significant measure to the interacademy project sited at IGEM. While there had been years of discussion in Russia about the importance of linking researchers and industrialists within the new business environment of the country, the interacademy project demonstrated how this could be done and made a positive impression on the leadership of Norilsk Nickel. (See Appendix H for the National Academies press release on this development.) Box 5-1 sets forth some of the lessons learned during the IGEM project. IMPROVING ETHNIC RELATIONS IN RUSSIA Straddling definitions of security and nonsecurity projects is an interacademy effort to encourage improved approaches to resolving ethnic problems in Russia. In response to a suggestion from the RAS in early 2000, the NAS assembled a small team of social scientists with international experience in addressing ethnic relations to collaborate with several leading Russian specialists concerned about the course of the war in Chechnya. Some participants in the project had worked together in 1993 preparing an NRC report on ethnic conflict that had focused on the general issue rather than Russia in particular (Walker and Stern, 1993). After the American specialists consulted intensively in early 2000 with Russian officials and experts in Moscow and with officials and specialists from the northern Caucasus in Rostov-on-Don, the two academies sponsored a conference in Moscow in December 2000 on ways to prevent eruption of ethnic violence, to bring an end to violence, and to reconstruct societies torn by ethnic-rooted violence. A large number of Russian officials and specialists as well as a few Western experts participated in an open and frank discussion of issues at a time when Russian officials were worried about the outbreaks of violence in various minority enclaves in Russia (or the 10 ethnic hotspots, as the Russian government called them). Given the high level of interest in the topic among government officials in Washington and Moscow, the academies, with support from the MacArthur Foundation, continued the dialogue and carried out field investigations after the conference. American specialists met with political leaders and ethnic experts from the Volga region in Nizhny Novgorod in October 2001. The successes achieved in preventing ethnic violence in the region

OCR for page 63
Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation BOX 5-1 Lessons Learned in Developing Innovation Centers in Russia An interacademy project to upgrade capabilities of two innovation centers within the Russian Academy of Sciences provided insights into such centers, which are proliferating throughout the RAS. In the natural resources sector, Russian companies are very interested in using the talents of Russian researchers to support industrial needs as long as there are easy routes to tapping into this expertise. Direct involvement of the leadership of the Russian Academy of Sciences in the activities of innovation centers lends prestige to the centers that is important in attracting industrial clients. Russian industrial representatives prefer to discuss their technical problems with researchers who are expert in fields directly related to industrial interests rather than route their views through middlemen in innovation centers who are not experts. A high level of commitment and ingenuity from the managers of innovation centers is essential to overcoming the legal, management, and technical obstacles that inevitably arise. Installing or upgrading electronic networking in Russia requires detailed planning by specialists who understand the technical requirements, cost constraints, and realities of implementing projects in Russia. Installation of customized networks that depend on the purchase of specialized equipment requires that the network manager be directly involved in all aspects of the procurement process. An emphasis on linking Russian researchers with Russian industry is highly desirable, but opportunities for researchers to service Western companies operating in Russia should not be ignored. Source: Discussions in Moscow, April 2003. were impressive and in sharp contrast to the difficulties in the northern Caucasus because of both the different styles of political leadership and the different histories, particularly since 1991. This initial phase of the program concluded with a conference in December 2001 in Washington that sought opportunities for joint U.S.-Russian research teams to discuss violence, identity, and cross-cultural studies (NRC, 2003a).

OCR for page 63
Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation During 2002, the program was to focus on two areas—Tatarstan and Chechnya. Brief consultations between NRC specialists and officials and ethnic relations experts in Kazan, Tatarstan, in April 2002 revealed that many of the economic issues with Moscow had been largely resolved and that the major debate of the day was the use of the Tatar language in the schools—a topic that did not fall within the mainstream of NRC expertise. Therefore, the two academies decided to devote their efforts to improving educational opportunities in Chechnya. An interacademy workshop in Sochi in September 2002, with organizational assistance from the Chechen-led Fund for Humanitarian Assistance to the Chechen Republic, attracted 12 educators from Chechnya, representatives of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and several international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and Russian and American specialists. The views from the field were quite insightful. Although the reports on the physical and psychological conditions surrounding educational efforts were depressing, the commitment of the educators to their profession and to the students was inspiring. At the workshop, the NRC announced a program to support innovative pilot projects to improve educational opportunities in Chechnya.7 Chechen educators submitted 15 proposals for pilot projects. Of these, six one-year projects were supported with NRC internal funds at a total cost of $20,000: establishing a museum of local folklore that will host a regional folk festival (Grozny Middle School #58) using distance learning in mathematics to improve the skills of pre-university students (Chechen State University) organizing a student essay contest on methods of settling the conflict in Chechnya and priorities for reconstruction (Chechen State University) producing textbooks on Chechen literature for grades 10 and 11 (Ministry of General and Vocational Education of Chechnya and Chechen State University) exploring employment opportunities for university students (Chechen State University) 7   Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology (2003); for background material prepared with the support of the NRC, see Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology (2002).

OCR for page 63
Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation equipping a sports hall for freestyle wrestling within the physical education curriculum (Grozny Teachers College). Another direct outcome of the Sochi workshop was the initiation by the Danish Refugee Council, which was represented at the workshop, of activities targeting the Chechen educational system. One project links Danish universities with colleagues in Chechnya. The overall interacademy program on ethnic relations is scheduled for completion at the end of 2004. A workshop to continue examination of ethnic relations, and in particular approaches to local governance, is scheduled for late 2003, probably focusing on Dagestan, to be followed by wrap-up conferences in Washington and Moscow in late 2004. The results of the pilot projects in Chechnya should be available in early 2004 and reported at the conferences, along with significant observations on lessons learned during the program, to interested officials and specialists. ROLE OF RUSSIAN UNIVERSITIES Many Russian leaders believe that the country has lost a generation of well-trained and highly motivated scientists and engineers because of the economic chaos of the 1990s. Although contraction of the pipeline of talented young scientists during the 1990s cannot be easily documented, two critical roles of Russian universities are clear: to continue the Russian tradition of providing graduates with strong preparation in the sciences, and to initiate new business-oriented programs that will improve the likelihood that graduates will prosper financially in an economy in transition. To these ends, most universities need to more effectively link their research and related activities to the activities of the RAS and Russian industry. Every time leaders of the NAS and RAS have met since 1985, they have discussed the conditions in Russian universities and the importance of joint efforts to revitalize the educational system. But beyond these continuing expressions of concern, the NRC has not been able to design a program targeting Russian universities that would meet the goals of funding organizations. Several other American organizations have launched modest programs at Russian universities (e.g., George Soros’s Open Society Institute until 2000, U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation until present), but the erosion of science education in Russia presents problems of great magnitude.

OCR for page 63
Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS Also high on the agendas of meetings of leaders of the academies has been environmental protection. The global nature of environmental issues is clear, and the RAS plays an important role in Russian government deliberations over environmental policies, particularly since abolishment of the independent Ministry of Ecology. Although the NRC has not been able to develop a sustained program, several ad hoc opportunities for collaborative efforts have arisen. In June 1995 a group of NRC oil and gas experts traveled to Nizhnevartovsk in northwestern Siberia to learn about oil exploration, production, and transportation issues. The black sea of pollution that spreads over hundreds of square miles of tundra not far from the city and that arises from sloppy production and pipeline practices made an indelible impression on the group as it flew over the watery terrain in a helicopter. On the positive side, the Americans were favorably impressed by the activities at a nature reserve that had been established to demonstrate how oil production, logging, nature preservation, and agricultural activities could coexist in an area of several hundred square miles (NRC, 1995:16). Following up on this visit, the NRC and RAS arranged for groups of young investigators from each country to carry out reciprocal visits in two areas. The first group addressed water quality, particularly drinking water safety. This issue had become a major problem, because while Nizhnevartovsk was growing, little attention had been given to the environmental problems in the areas that were feeding the water system. The second group concentrated on sustainable forestry, with the Americans particularly interested in the demonstration project (nature reserve) just described. In terms of continuation of the initial collaboration, the water group reported the most progress; the Russian visitors signed an agreement for long-term cooperation with the University of Massachusetts (NRC, 1996c, 1996d, 1997b: 17, 1997c: 18). Earlier, in 1993 and 1994, two other reciprocal exchanges of young environmental scientists were held. One group was interested in biodiversity and directed its work toward activities in California and in several Russian nature reserves. The second group addressed Arctic ecology issues. Relevant experience in Alaska and in northwestern areas of Russia was the focal point of this interaction. In later years, several of the participants in each group continued to work with their colleagues with the support of either the NRC individual exchange programs or programs of other organizations (NRC, 1993b: 14–15, 1993f ).

OCR for page 63
Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation The effort to develop a more solid base of interacademy projects began with an interacademy workshop organized in Moscow in November 2000 on the role of environmental NGOs, a topic that appealed both to the environmental community and to the advocates of strengthening the civil society in Russia. By all measures this workshop was a success. The attendance by both Russian government officials and specialists, from Moscow and from outlying regions, was strong; the papers presented by both American and Russian specialists were filled with previously unavailable information; and the free-wheeling discussions gave many Russian environmental activists in attendance an opportunity to have their voices heard by an international audience. Two other indicators of success emerged as well. First, in preparation for the workshop the RAS established a panel on liaison with NGOs under its standing committee on environmental protection. Today, this panel continues to maintain responsibility for strengthening links between the RAS and key NGOs. Second, the proceedings of the workshop has been in wide demand in Russia and has served as a resource document at various Russian educational institutions. Plans for a follow-on workshop that would focus on a specific region of Siberia, as suggested by Russian colleagues, have languished because of lack of financial sponsorship (NRC, 2001). Meanwhile, the RAS has been using the newly installed electronic networks at the IGEM innovation center to provide improved access to the more than 3,000 reports on ecology that have been recently published by the institutes of the RAS. COOPERATION ON NONSECURITY ISSUES: LESSONS LEARNED In 1997 the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy requested that the NRC organize consultations and an open meeting with representatives of U.S. departments and agencies on their cooperative activities with Russian partners in the field of science and technology. More than 100 representatives of the departments and agencies participated, together with about a dozen nongovernmental specialists. Among the lessons learned by the represented groups and that still seem particularly relevant to future interacademy activities are the following:

OCR for page 63
Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation Young American scientists are reluctant to take time off from early career development activities to travel to Russia, and thus they need special incentives to encourage them to participate in cooperative programs. Reports distributed in the United States about the state of Russian science are overwhelmingly negative, and more publicly available reports on the positive aspects of many research and related activities in Russia are needed. Training Russian research and development managers in modern approaches to the effective use of personnel and facilities and to interactions with potential customers should be a priority in cooperative programs. The Russian educational system should be strengthened both in training the next generation of science and technology leaders and in supporting Russian government-sponsored industrial technology activities. U.S. visa policy requires continuing attention to ensure that it does not inadvertently facilitate an international brain drain by being too lenient in decisions to issue nonimmigrant visas to applicants considering immigration while not being too stringent in the name of national security in issuing visas for international scientific collaboration. Concerns about misuse of dual-use technologies for weapons systems are usually exaggerated and should not be allowed to block legitimate commercial deals (NRC, 1998a: 17–18). Although security-oriented interacademy programs will probably continue to have strong support from both U.S. government departments and private foundations, the likelihood of support for civilian-oriented interacademy programs is less certain. Indeed, the acquisition of funds to support such programs is always a major accomplishment. Meanwhile, the RAS seems more comfortable with civilian-oriented projects, which are in line with its strengths. Yet it is more difficult to promise results of obvious importance to U.S. interests from nonsecurity projects, even though they are less likely to duplicate the efforts of U.S. government agencies than security projects. Overall, the recovery time for Russian civilian technology prowess will be long and the survivability of many Russian schools of science is uncertain, but the influence of American involvement on both scientific and technology policies and programs can be important.