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and a cadre of highly qualified specialists trained and educated during the Soviet era. Of course, during Soviet times their efforts were directed primarily toward serving the needs of the Soviet military complex and providing civilian products to other Soviet republics. The challenge now is to direct their skills and energies to endeavors that will help improve an economy that largely collapsed when access to these markets disappeared.

EXISTING INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY

Structure and Role of Research

Successful scientific research requires institutions that can fund and guide research by identifying important problems, assembling research teams, and training future scientific leaders. Of no less importance are efforts to integrate the country’s S&T capacity with national programs to promote economic development. In order to do this, the embryonic private sector must be able to draw on the resources of the state S&T sector for support of innovation activities.

The institutes and centers of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia (NAS-RA) include most of the country’s research organizations. The NAS-RA has 37 institutes and centers organized into three divisions (see Appendix C for a complete list). According to the NAS-RA leadership, the Academy and its various institutes and centers employ nearly 4,000 people. By way of comparison, according to official Armenian government statistics, the entire Armenian research and development sector, including non-NAS-RA institutions, employed 6,737 people in 2002.1

The size and structure of the NAS-RA is a product of Armenia’s Soviet past. The Academy was founded in 1943, as Armenia became a center of S&T research providing support services for the entire Soviet Union. The NAS-RA was organized to address both general areas of science and specific development issues. Now, there are a significant number of “orphan” science organizations, which had been created to meet a crisis or a need that has since disappeared or greatly diminished.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 significantly reduced the economic base that supports the NAS-RA and scientific research in Armenia in general and also reduced the demand for products of research. Diminished economic opportunity combined with the effects of the devastating 1988 earthquake in Armenia led many young scientists and engineers to seek jobs outside the country and often outside science. The war with Azerbaijan over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh further decreased the number of young scientists, both directly through the

1  

National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia. 2003. Statistical Yearbook of Armenia. Posted at http://www.armstat.am/StatData/.



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