Areas for Further Consideration
During the final session of the workshop, which was open to the public, the participants suggested steps that should be considered by government agencies and research organizations to assist in the commercialization of technologies. Some of the suggestions were addressed in the papers presented at the workshop, others were based on observations during the field visits in the United States and Russia, and still others emerged during the discussions that followed the formal workshop presentations. There was no effort to reach a consensus on the suggestions, which should be considered to be views of individual workshop participants and not recommendations by the NRC.
Impacts on R&D of Russian Tax and IPR Systems: The Russian government should consider supporting detailed studies of the impacts, both positive and negative, of the current tax regulations and patent system on innovation and technology commercialization as well as the likely impacts of proposed changes. Reports indicate that currently the true tax burden on small enterprises is enormous, often inhibiting the formation and successful development of new firms. In addition, Russian institutes and small businesses reportedly are wary of taking on the burdens of enforcing their intellectual property rights through the courts. Over the past decade small, technology-oriented enterprises have been extremely important in the West for job creation, economic growth, and competitiveness. Studies could concentrate on how additional tax incentives and different approaches to protection of intellectual property could spur innovation in Russia.
Transferring Technology Ownership Rights to Research and Educational Institutions: A joint working group could be established to consider the relevance of the provisions of the Bayh-Dole Act to Russian conditions. This act provides for the transfer of intellectual property rights developed pursuant to the provisions of government funding to nonprofit research and educational institutions. In Russia, the funding agency usually retains the rights for itself, thus reducing incentives among researchers to commercialize innovations.
Industry/University Centers: Russian centers analogous to the U.S. National Science Foundation's Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers should be considered. These centers might be regionally-oriented—for example, located in Nizhnynovgorod, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Vladivostok, and Irkutsk as well as Moscow and St. Petersburg—rather than industry-specific. These centers would bring Russian research institutes, universities, and industry together; and American and other foreign universities and industry could be invited to participate as appropriate. In addition to serving as focal points for Russian research and technology, the centers could convene international meetings to consider solutions to barriers to commercialization and international collaboration.
Innovation Incubators: The initial positive experiences at some of the sixteen innovation incubators in Russia should be replicated in other industrial areas. The American experience, such as the experience in the Research Triangle Park region, is of special interest in helping to provide guidance and support for emerging scientific entrepreneurs in Russia. Incubators might be appropriate at locations near closed cities where research institutes are attempting to convert their military-oriented R&D capabilities to provide products and services for civilian markets.
Publicizing Sections of the Russian Tax Code that Impact on R&D: There is considerable confusion among Russian research institutes and enterprises about the tax regulations concerning R&D expenses, income from the use of new inventions, and income of scientific organizations in general. There is even greater confusion as to proposed changes in the tax code. The Russian government should consider ways to clearly communicate to affected parties the existing rules and future regulations as they are enacted, particularly tax incentives for use of innovations and the standards for certification (for tax purposes) of an organization as a scientific entity.
Clarifying Questions of Ownership of Property and Property Rights: Much equipment and many buildings of research institutes have been acquired with federal and local government funding, and the ownership of much of this property has not been settled. In addition, innovations with commercial potential continue to be developed using this property and additional government funding; thus, there remains uncertainty about the rights the federal and regional governments have to these innovations and the circumstances under which these rights can be exercised. Such lingering questions impede the commercialization of innovations, and the Russian government should consider ways to clarify these issues as soon as possible.
Regional Coordination Centers: The Russian government should consider supporting centers with modest budgets to encourage and evaluate technology
commercialization activities and related business developments at the regional level. These centers could keep track of available research resources and equipment and facility capabilities, stimulate cooperation among institutes to increase efficient use of limited resources, and facilitate international investment and cooperation in the regions. The experience of state governments in the United States seems particularly relevant to such an approach.
Industrial Consortia, Affiliates, and Related Programs: A number of Russian institutions clearly have the capability to serve as hubs for industrial consortia, affiliate programs, and trade associations in specific technical areas. Institutes should actively pursue opportunities that could lead to sponsored research and valuable contacts with industry. Such programs also could leverage resources to support work that would not be profitable for a single company. As a first step, Russian research institutes should identify technical areas of interest to industry in which the institutes have a comparative R&D advantage. For Russian institutes initiating collective research programs, there are many models for managing intellectual property issues developed by U.S. research consortia which could be adapted to Russian conditions.
Outreach to the Public: To build their customer base, Russian institutes need to better publicize their research, personnel, facilities, and interests. Positive stories about the payoff of both international and domestic projects should be featured. The World-Wide Web is an inexpensive yet expansive medium for disseminating information. For maximum value, institutes should ensure that their home pages are appropriately linked to related pages on the Web. In light of the limitations of the current telecommunications infrastructure in Russia, institutes might seek to establish their home pages on servers in the West.
Utilization of Physical Resources: Russian research institutes should consider how to increase the return on their currently underutilized physical resources. Possibilities include leasing equipment, using space for incubators, and reconfiguring space and equipment for use by consortia or industrial affiliates programs. The availability of such facilities and equipment could be advertised on the World-Wide Web.
Attracting and Retaining Young Scholars: The problems of internal and external brain drain in Russian science and engineering increasingly are apparent, and the overall financial troubles have made it difficult to attract students into technical fields. Institutes should develop programs to expose students to the emerging challenges of science. In addition, they should pursue programs, whenever possible in cooperation with industry, that will help ensure that there are enough scientists and engineers attuned to the needs of the private sector to support the country's future industrial base.
International Linkages: Russian science and technology leaders should explore how western trade associations, professional technology transfer associations (such as the Association of University Technology Managers and the Licensing Executives Society), the Industrial Research Institute, and similar institutions could be models for strengthening internal cooperation and could serve as focal points for cooperation with western counterparts.
Management Training: Russian research organizations could be more proactive in providing management training carefully tailored to the specific needs of their personnel. Training should include technology assessment techniques, preparation of bankable business plans, marketing, and strategic planning. Both scientists and managers should be well-versed in licensing agreements, patenting, and protection of intellectual property rights.
Education in Management Sciences: Few education programs in Russia cover topics directly related to management and commercialization of technology. Several American universities that specialize in this topic could cooperate with Russian institutions to adapt programs to the Russian experience, perhaps working through the Russian network of continuing education programs under the Ministry of Education. In creating such education and training programs, the American and Russian partners should take full advantage of advances in information technology.
Problem-Solving Workshops: Small workshops could be convened among Russian researchers, government officials, and Russian and western industry on a continuing basis to discuss barriers to commercialization. One focus of these workshops could be the tax and patent framework. Topics also might include problems of marketing Russian high-technology products internationally, particularly the importance of international product standards and timing in marketing new products.