increasing signs of progress for bioengagement in the private sector, as well as when funding for public-sector activities is available.
OVERARCHING EMPHASIS ON GOVERNMENTAL SUPPORT FOR APPLICATIONS OF SCIENCE
Joint ventures and other types of private-sector investments have been limited in size and scope. A number of private-sector bioengagement activities have been oriented to achieving near-term payoffs that would benefit segments of the populations of the two countries in discernible ways. This has been an admirable but elusive objective.
The marketing of products of research developed at biology-oriented public-sector research institutions began slowly in Russia during the late 1990s. There were few technologies that Russian researchers could offer at competitive prices or with significant quality improvements over imported products and services. Unfortunately, the rhetoric by western optimists as to growing opportunities for commercializing Russian technologies for the new economy raced ahead of market realities. “Made-in-Russia” was a label that seldom attracted large numbers of potential buyers.
Thus, until now, government-supported programs in Russia have usually been an important aspect in the realization of near-term applications of the results of bioengagement. At times, public research institutes have operated like small businesses in selling their products. For example, a research institute in Vladimir has a substantial animal vaccine business that competes with private companies. The institute’s company serves as a conduit to the marketplace for promising research results.
Overall, much of the bilateral cooperation on applications of science has focused on three types of activities in Russia: (1) improving services of broad interest to the population that are provided through governmental institutions and scientific centers—in the fields of health, agriculture, and environmental protection; (2) strengthening capabilities of Russian institutions to begin to commercialize their technical achievements that would be of interest in the emerging private markets within Russia, and later in the global marketplace; and (3) supporting new components in the research and development (R&D) chain that are important for the commercialization of biomedical, agricultural, and other technologies.
New institutional components include the mega-incubator to be located at Skolkovo near Moscow, together with supporting incubators in other cities throughout the country and abroad; the state-owned enterprise Rusnano, which has development of biomedical technologies on its list of priorities; and various venture capital funds in Russia, which are also targeting the biomedical sector. These new entities are intended to attract widespread interest concerning the benefits to both the public and the private sectors in Russia of engaging advanced-technology Russian scientists along with specialists from the United States and