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Science, Technologies and Innovations in Belarus

Key S&T indicators (2013)

Intramural expenditures on R&D

4 372.3 bln BYR
or 406 mln USD 

Extramural expenditures on R&D

 

347.5 mln BYR
or 32.2 mln USD

 

Domestic expenditures on R&D as % of GDP

0.69

Number of R&D personnel, persons

28 937

Number of researchers

18 353

Source: Statistical Book “Science and Innovation activities in the Republic of Belarus”, 2014.

Despite the fact that the number of R&D personnel in industry grew significantly within the last years (see the table above), R&D is still dominantly undertaken in extra-mural R&D organisations, mainly in the National Academy of Sciences.

The share of researchers with academic degrees — candidates of sciences (equivalent to PhD in the qualification system used in the USSR), and also doctors of science — in the total number of researchers is 20%. The highest quantity of research staff of higher qualification is engaged in natural sciences and also in engineering and technology, while the largest share of highly qualified researchers is typical for medicine (41%), agriculture (39%), natural sciences (36%) and humanities (31%).

Distribution of R&D staff within the country is irregular: despite 4% decrease of the number of R&D personnel in Minsk City in 2006-2010, the majority of it — 72.1% — is still concentrated in the capital, followed by Gomel. Simultaneously, a small increase in the number of R&D personnel in all the regions has been demonstrated, with Minsk region being a leader with 1.6 times increase. However, re-allocation of research personnel is costly and strongly depends on availability of research infrastructure and overall economy development.

In Belarus, the share of gross expenditures on R&D in GDP remained stable at around 0.7% of GDP in the period 2001-2010. By 2010, it had to reach 1,2-1,4% GDP in accordance to the Government plans for 2006-2010, however it hasn’t been achieved. Nevertheless, in 2001-2008, Belarus GDP rose very rapidly, so the stability of these shares is consistent with rapid increases in the amount of funding in nominal terms.

Within 2002-2009, government funding has remained roughly unchanged at around 0.35% of GDP and reached 58% of the total expenditures for R&D in 2010. Among the non-budget sources the following key ones could be mentioned: own funds of companies and organizations which carry out R&D – 12.3%, business sector — 14.8%, non-budget funds – 9.0% and foreign sources – 13.8%. It’s worth to mention that the share of foreign sources in R&D funding in 2010 was the highest in Belarus science history.

The distribution of funds between basic research, applied research and development is appr. 1.0 : 1.8 : 3.7.

The structure of the Belarusian R&D system by discipline is strongly dominated by technical sciences. This predominant position concerns most of the sources of funding. 78% of all R&D organisations in industry are in the machine-building sector, where own funds (61%) are larger than budgetary funds (36%) as a source of financing. This strong specialisation is an asset to exploit, provided that it generates increasing returns through clusters, spillovers and knowledge exchange. Despite numerous efforts are undertaken by the government to promote other disciplines that is reflected in the list of priorities, e.g. life sciences and biotechnologies which are increasingly important on a global scale, they are relatively poorly represented so far.

 

Research structure and policy

The legal basis of S&T and innovation policy is currently formed by 440 operating legal acts issued by the Parliament, President, Council of Ministers and state bodies dealing with these issues. All these documents are available in Russian at the National Legal Internet-Portal. The list of the basic acts includes such laws as:

o   The Law of 19.01.1993 № 2105-XII “About the basics of the state science and technology policy”;

o   The Law of 21.10.1996 № 708-XIII “On scientific activities”;

o   The Law of 05.05.1998 № 159-Z “About the National Academy of Sciences”;

o   The Law of 05.05.1999 № 250-Z “About scientific and technical information”;

o   The Law of 17.05.2011 № 262-Z “On the author’s right and related rights”,

as well as the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of 12.08.2010 № 1326 ”On selected issues of financing research, technology and innovation activities”.

The Programme of Social and Economic Development of the Republic of Belarus for 2011-2015 approved by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus № 136 of 11 April 2011,  states innovations and increase of investments to be a precondition of the country’s growth. By the end of 2015 Belarus has to reach the following indices: 20-21% of innovative products in total shipped industrial products, 12-14% of innovative and high-tech products in the total export of products and services. The strategy of science, technology and innovation activities formulated in this document includes the following key tasks: developing effective national innovation system, increasing innovative activities of companies and support to entrepreneurship and inventions. Their implementation will be based on   

o   Technological modernisation of key industries and productions, introducing science-based technologies (such as information, nanoelectronic, optical, thin chemistry, biological technologies, etc) for manufacturing products with high added cost and low energy and material consumption, incl. productions based on hydrogen technologies;

o   Development of the material resources of the national science sector, as well as training the highly qualified experts in the area of innovation activities;

o   Increase of spending for R&D up to 2.5-2.9% GDP and the share of non-budget funding — up to 52-54% of the total funding.

Within the last decade, the R&D system has undergone only a gradual change, with the relative shares of the 3 key sectors — higher education, business enterprise and government — remaining largely unchanged in terms of employment and funding. At the same time, R&D employment increased by 5% in 2003-2008. The share of gross expenditures on R&D in GDP remained stable at around 0.7% of GDP in the period 2001-2009. Government funding has remained roughly unchanged at around 0.35% of GDP. During this period, Belarus GDP rose very rapidly, so the stability of these shares is consistent with rapid increases in the amount of funding in nominal terms.

The structure of the Belarusian R&D system by discipline is strongly dominated by technical sciences. This predominant position concerns most of the sources of funding. 78% of all R&D organisations in industry are in the machine-building sector, where own funds (61%) are larger than budgetary funds (36%) as a source of financing. This strong specialisation is an asset to exploit, provided that it generates increasing returns through clusters, spillovers and knowledge exchange. Despite numerous efforts are undertaken by the government to promote other disciplines that is reflected in the list of priorities, e.g. life sciences and biotechnologies which are increasingly important on a global scale, they are relatively poorly represented. 

o   Improvement of IPR protection system and developing mechanisms to support inventors;

o   Strengthening interconnections between science and business through the creation of new forms of enterprises capable to implement the full cycle “research – development – manufacturing – market sales”, etc.  

The following thematic priorities of S&T activities for 2011-2015 have been defined in the Decree of the President of Belarus № 378 of 22 July 2010:

- energy and energy saving;

- agricultural industry technologies and productions;

- industrial and construction technologies and productions;

- medicine, medical equipment and technologies, pharmaceuticals;

- chemical technologies, nano- and biotechnologies;

- information and communication, aviation and space technologies;

- new materials;

- effective nature management, resource saving and protection from emergency;

- defence and national security.

These priorities are being realised throughout different types of programmes, as well as via international cooperation in science, technology and innovations.

One of key programmes under implementation is the State Programme of Innovative Development of the Republic of Belarus for 2011-2015 approved by the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus № 669 of 26 May 2011.
It contains a list of priority measures and projects, funding sources, executors and stakeholders with the overall goal to develop new and upgrade existing manufactures based on technologies of the V and VI technological levels (ICT, airspace industry, pharmaceuticals, microbiology and biotechnology, nanoindustry, nuclear energy). According to the Programme, by 2015, the shares of science-based and traditional products in Belarus should be comparable.  

Besides, the list of programmes for 2011-2015 includes

- 28 state science & technology programmes and 6 regional ones approved by the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus № 116 of 1 February 2011. They have been synchronised with the priorities of the S&T activities),

- 16 basic research and applied research programmes adopted by the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus № 886 of 9 June 2010,  (based on the List of priority areas of basic and applied research approved by the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of № 585 of 19 April 2010).

Interestingly, the national programmes are open for participation of foreign partners (R&D centres, universities and companies).  However, the cases of foreign participation are not numerous so far.

Due to limited internal funding and lack of investments, Belarus R&D actors and the system as a whole are excessively oriented towards the commercialisation of R&D results, to the point that, according to UN analysis, it possibly sometimes undermines scientific excellence. The second wave of economic and financial crisis which influences Belarusian economy in 2011, has strengthened the need in innovations and investments more than ever before.
 
 
Policy-making and coordination

Policy-making and coordination in science, technology and innovation are carried out by a triangle composed of the State Committee on Science and Technology (ranked as a ministry for S&T), National Academy of Sciences and Higher Certifying Commission:

They share responsibilities on public administration in the field of science, technology and innovation in the following way:

  • the State Committee on Science and Technology takes the issues of the S&T and innovation policy and coordinates it with a focus on the stages of developments, demonstration and, more general, on innovation activities; legislation in the field of science, technology and innovation activities; budget for STI and monitoring its end use; intellectual property rights protection; international S&T cooperation; scheduling the training of the scientific personnel of higher qualification on the national level and by the field of science;
  • National Academy of Sciences organizes, conducts and coordinates basic and applied research, being the leading research organization with the highest concentration of highly qualified researchers;
  • Higher Certifying Commission certifies scientific personnel of higher qualification and carries out the state regulation in this field.

Besides these three bodies, different branch ministries, e.g. Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Transport, etc include in their structure departments dealing with research and innovation activities.

 
Research funding system

The budget for science, technology and innovation activities within the state budget, including the budget for international S&T cooperation is formed by the State Committee on Science and Technology of the Republic of Belarus in close cooperation with the National Academy of Sciences and branch ministries. It’s approved by the President. The State Committee on Science and Technology monitors and controls the end use of budget funds.

In 2010, the R&D expenditures totaled 330 mln. EUR. For 2011, the dramatic year for the national economy and financial sector, the budget expenditures for research, technology and innovation were planned of 865.0 bln. BYR (the Law № 176-З of 15 October 2010 “On the republican budget for 2011”) that was approximately equal to 216 mln EUR (at exchange rate of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus for 1 January 2011). However, due to devaluation of the BYR and increase in prices in the first-half of 2011, the budget funding in real prices has been decreasing along the year 2011.

More statistics on RTI activities in Belarus is available in the annual statistical books published by the State Committee on Science and Technology, see Section “Publications and Analytic Reports”.

 
Key research organisations

In 2010, research was carried out in 468 organizations of which 73% were state owned and 27% private. 2 companies were foreign owned. Since 2005, the number of private R&D organizations has increased 3.5 times. The attempts of the Government to re-organize the national science and technology area, optimize its structure and create conditions for increasing the effectiveness of R&D have resulted in a significant increase of the total number of R&D organizations and, in particular, those in business enterprise sector.

ORGANIZATIONS ENGAGED IN RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, BY SECTOR OF PERFORMANCE

 

Sector of performance

 

 

 

Number of R&D organizations

  2005

 2007

 2009

 2010

Total

322

340

466 [1]

468[2]

 of which

 

 

 

 

 government sector

122

131

80

101

 business enterprise sector

144

146

255

304

higher education sector

56

63

63

63

Source: SCIENCE, INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY IN THE REPUBLIC OF BELARUS – 2010. Statistical book, State Committee on Science and Technology, Ministry of Statistics and Analysis of Belarus, 2011.

Despite this positive trend, business enterprise sector has not become the major R&D performer so far, in contrast to what is typical in market economies:  the National Academy of Sciendces remains the key research player in the country. However, the R&D system is, in principle, largely oriented towards enterprises. It could be characterised as a system of R&D for, but not in the industry. According to the experts’ opinion, this feature of the Belarusian system has remained its strong characteristic[3].

Under the umbrella of the NAS which organizational structure and functions differ greatly from those of a traditional academy of sciences in most of the countries over 8o institutions have been united with the largest share of highly qualified personnel (58% and 67% of candidates and doctors of science of their total number in the republic). Besides R&D centres, the list of NAS’s institutions includes some manufacturing companies and several science & production ones. Another Belarus peculiarity is that the NAS is not only a leading R&D organisation but it also coordinates basic and applied research, as well as appropriate state programmes within the whole country as their owner thus partly playing the role of a ministry. At the same time, NAS is an executor of the programs.

Involvement of universities in R&D activities is relatively low (8% of the total number R&D personnel, without medical universities). The leading role belongs to Belarusian State University, the largest classic university in Belarus, as well as to the National Technical University, the largest technical higher school.

To know more about the Science, Technology and Innovations in Belarus and get familiar with the S&T developments visit the  Section “Publications and  Analytic Reports”.

 
BelISA
11.11.2014
 

[1] Including SMEs and micro companies

[2] Including non-profit institutions

[3] Innovation Performance Review of Belarus, United Nations. 2011

 

 

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