Introduction

From 1997 to 2003, the National Research Council (NRC), together with Russian counterpart organizations, sponsored a series of activities devoted to industrial innovation in Russia.1 Initially, the joint efforts focused on the emergence of small innovative firms, with the emphasis subsequently shifting to the role of a few large Russian firms, in outsourcing research activities to Russian research institutes. As part of these efforts, workshops were held in Washington, Moscow, Samara, and Obninsk. Consultations by American experts were held in these and other Russian cities. Meanwhile, Russian specialists involved in the program met with officials in Washington and consulted with their counterparts in several additional U.S. cities.

The Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), including a number of its institutes, served as the principal partner of the NRC for these activities. The former Ministry of Atomic Energy, former Ministry of Science and Technology, and former Ministry of Education also played active roles. Following the Russian governmental reorganization in 2004, the successor organizations to these ministries have increased their interest in science, technology, and innovation and continue to assist in facilitating interacademy activities related to innovation.

1  

The Russian Government has followed the lead of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris by defining innovation to include the following activities: research and development; acquisition and use of equipment, technology, rights for patents and licenses, and software; industrial design; personnel training; and market research. See L. Gokhberg and L. Mindeli. 2003. Russian Science and Technology at a Glance, 2002, Centre for Science Research and Statistics, Moscow, Russia.



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Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop Introduction From 1997 to 2003, the National Research Council (NRC), together with Russian counterpart organizations, sponsored a series of activities devoted to industrial innovation in Russia.1 Initially, the joint efforts focused on the emergence of small innovative firms, with the emphasis subsequently shifting to the role of a few large Russian firms, in outsourcing research activities to Russian research institutes. As part of these efforts, workshops were held in Washington, Moscow, Samara, and Obninsk. Consultations by American experts were held in these and other Russian cities. Meanwhile, Russian specialists involved in the program met with officials in Washington and consulted with their counterparts in several additional U.S. cities. The Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), including a number of its institutes, served as the principal partner of the NRC for these activities. The former Ministry of Atomic Energy, former Ministry of Science and Technology, and former Ministry of Education also played active roles. Following the Russian governmental reorganization in 2004, the successor organizations to these ministries have increased their interest in science, technology, and innovation and continue to assist in facilitating interacademy activities related to innovation. 1   The Russian Government has followed the lead of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris by defining innovation to include the following activities: research and development; acquisition and use of equipment, technology, rights for patents and licenses, and software; industrial design; personnel training; and market research. See L. Gokhberg and L. Mindeli. 2003. Russian Science and Technology at a Glance, 2002, Centre for Science Research and Statistics, Moscow, Russia.

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Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop Some of the earlier interacademy efforts were documented in two published National Academies reports, Technology Commercialization: Russian Challenges, American Lessons and Successes and Difficulties of Small Innovative Firms in Russian Nuclear Cities.2 Additional observations gained from these activities have been included in presentations by participants at conferences. In view of this base of experience, the office of the Department of Energy responsible for the Nuclear Cities Initiative (NCI) awarded a grant to the NRC in 2003 to organize and conduct an interacademy workshop in Yekaterinburg on industrial innovation in the Urals region of Russia. The emphasis was to be on improving linkages between Russian industrial companies and Russian research organizations. Discussion of the concept of “market pull” was to be an important aspect of the workshop. Linkages between Russian researchers and international companies and foreign research centers are also important, and they were also to be considered. However, the focus was to be primarily on Russian-Russian linkages, which had previously received less attention by the NCI program. The workshop was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, in October 2004 (for agenda of plenary sessions, see Appendix A). Many aspects of the innovation process from basic research through successful marketing of new or improved products or services were considered. Experiences of many Russian organizations, together with relevant experiences of Western companies, research organizations, and universities were also presented. Successes of focused programs designed to improve existing products and production capacities, and experiences with technology incubators and related approaches were specifically addressed by Russian and American participants.3 As indicated in Appendix B, the NCI program assists in the creation of sustainable jobs in the nuclear cities of Russia for specialists who had been engaged in defense-related activities. The emphasis of the program has been on jobs which produce new and improved goods and services for the civilian market thereby drawing on the technical skills of former defense scientists. Often the creation of these jobs requires a closer link between the scientific-research com- 2   NRC. 1998. Technology Commercialization: Russian Challenges, American Lessons. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.; NRC. 2002. Successes and Difficulties of Small Innovative Firms in Russian Nuclear Cities. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 3   For a detailed discussion of the innovation process as viewed in the West, see Howard, William G., Jr., and Bruce R. Guile, editors. 1992. Profiting from Innovation, The Report of the Three-year Study from the National Academy of Engineering. The Free Press, New York. Some of the most difficult technology transfer problems in Russia are discussed in Nikolay Rogalev. 1998. Technology Commercialization in Russia: Challenges and Barriers. Austin: IC2 Institute, University of Texas at Austin. The following report is also useful in framing the issues: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. 2001. Bridging the Innovation Gap in Russia.

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Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop munity and the industrial sector as well as a greater emphassis on technology transfer. While improving linkages between researchers and industrialists is an important aspect of the commercialization of technology, there are other successful approaches to facilitating technology transfer, as has been documented in the previous NRC studies cited above. These approaches include, for example, establishing high-tech spin-off companies from research organizations, improving the management and marketing skills of research managers, and organizing technology exhibits. The fundamental links between research and industry, which make technology transfer possible, were the focuses of this particular workshop. During the workshop, the experiences of specialists in the nuclear cities were discussed. At the same time, lessons learned by Russian specialists from other areas of Russia, in particular from Yekaterinburg, proved to be informative for both the American managers of the NCI program and for the nuclear city participants. Equally valuable were the experiences of experts from Russian universities. The perspectives of university technology transfer specialists underscored the importance of linking education with technology transfer efforts, even though the higher educational institutions in the nuclear cities have not yet developed technology transfer programs. The workshop was intentionally held just before the Third Innovation Conference in Yekaterinburg entitled “Regional Aspects of Science and Technology Policy: From Basic Research to Putting Innovations into Practice.” As a result, there were opportunities for the American and Russian workshop participants to interact informally with industrialists and local and regional officials who participated in the conference. Finally, the workshop took place just after the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, with the support of President Vladimir Putin, proposed a dramatic change in the role and organizational structure of Russian research organizations, and particularly the RAS.4 The basic ideas of the proposed change were to reduce the number of publicly supported research institutes throughout the country and to focus the remaining institutes more sharply on the economic and social needs of the country. This approach would presumably lead to closer research, education, and industrial development efforts. These reorganization proposals will be debated and possibly implemented in part over the next several years. While they may not have a direct impact on the institutes in the nuclear cities, they are causing a reassessment of research institutes throughout the country; this introspection will most likely have effects in the nuclear cities. 4   Russian Ministry of Education and Science. September 16, 2004. The Concept for the Participation of the Russian Federation in the Management of State Organizations that Conduct Activities in the Sphere of Science. Moscow, Russia.

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Innovating for Profit in Russia: Summary of a Workshop Against this background, Chapter 1 of this report includes summaries of the presentations given during the plenary sessions of the workshop, highlights of the conference on innovation that followed, and the significant issues discussed during the breakout sessions. Chapter 2 presents the principal themes that emerged during the workshop. Finally, the appendixes include three documents that help provide the context for the workshop. Appendix C sets forth the 2002 science and technology policy of the Russian Federation, which addresses many aspects of innovation. Appendix D presents an excerpt from a proposal of the Ministry of Education and Science to improve Russia’s overall approach to innovation set forth in 2005. While this document was not available to participants at the time of the workshop, it provides valuable insight into strategic planning for innovation at the federal level. This perspective complements that of the perspective at the regional level. Appendix E provides the text of a workshop presentation by a representative from Snezhinsk that focuses on the special problems in one important nuclear city. The two government documents (Appendixes C and D) reflect the Russian government’s effort to take into account the many dimensions of national science and technology policy while developing practical steps to stimulate innovation. This indicates that the government is attempting to develop a complex innovation model for which it can claim ownership despite financial limitations. Difficult issues such as tax reform, two-way international outsourcing of technology development, and the adoption of metrics to measure success must continue to be addressed; but a start has been made. While this report was prepared primarily for the NCI program and for its participants in Russia, other U.S. and Russian organizations should also find the report of interest. For example, the DOE program on Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention and the program recently launched by the Departments of State and Commerce to expand cooperation in promoting high-tech innovation are consistent with the topic of this report. Finally, while Russian colleagues have considered many of the observations presented here in a disparate fashion, the report may assist them in developing a broader context for their individual activities.