Proposals on the improvement of forms and mechanisms of government support for research infrastructure: Roundtable Discussion
The round table discussion was devoted to the development problems facing such scientific infrastructure facilities of the Russian Federation as the Core research facilities (CKP) and Large Research facilities(UNU). The round table participants included representatives of CKP, UNU and the relevant back-up organizations with a long history of successful management of their Centers and Facilities. The Keynote report sought to frame the major problems of CKP and UNU development, indicated the causes of these problems, identified guidelines to their solution through the strengthening of governmental support to scientific infrastructure. According to the author of the report, the most challenging issues of CKP and UNU development include: – inadequate capacity building rates and modest performance of the core centers and facilities due to low research activity of potential R&D customers; – conflict of interest between CKP/UNU and their back-up organizations, which are primarily interested to use their centers and facilities for internal research with whatever resources remain to meet orders of external users; reluctance of CKP and UNU staff to provide services, which may not include a research component; unreasonable indicators of CKP/UNU capacity and performance, which reflect performance of back-up organizations instead. To remedy the specified problems, the speaker suggests: to speed up the process of legal recognition for CKP and UNU status criteria and to perform conformance inspection of these items of scientific infrastructure and eliminate those CKP and UNU, which were established just to get access to public funds; to expand CKP status beyond the scope of research institutions for independent legal units with competitive research equipment and highly skilled research staff; to include CKP/UNU performance indicators into the list of performance indicators of back-up organizations in an attempt to promote CKP and UNU activities targeted at external customers; to integrate silos of data on scientific infrastructure to ensure higher quality analysis of facilities owned by research and educational institutions; to introduce Cost Accounting system in the back-up institutions of CKP and UNU, considering CKP as a matter of priority. During the discussion of the indicated problems, causes and solutions, the Round table participants shared their approaches to the management of research infrastructure facilities, cooperation with external users, implementation of research and provision of services at the premises of available Science Parks. Special attention was paid to funding options for the infrastructure facilities. There were also suggestions made to improve the mechanism of public participation in the Federal Targeted Program for Research and Development in Priority Areas of Development of the Russian Scientific and Technological Complex for 2014–2020. The contribution of CKP and UNU in education activities and advanced training of back-up organizations personnel, students and post-graduates was emphasized.