Crisis is a Moment of Truth for Science

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Alexander Sergeev,
President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Co-Chair of the MAEF

A year ago, we held the first Moscow Academic Economic Forum at the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences Headquarters and decided to make it a regular event.

Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the government to submit a nationwide action plan to grow the economy and restore employment and incomes. It seems to me that it will be appropriate to use the MAEF platform in order to formulate proposals.

The goal is not just minimizing human losses and preventing a significant economic downturn. It also involves creating an economy of a different quality.

Which sectors of the new economy will become growth drivers? It is an important issue for the country. We have always lamented that little investment goes into hi-tech. Today it is obvious that only those investments can provide an effective way out of the crisis. The telecommunications industry will benefit from the crisis. We understand that the pharmaceutical, medical and biotechnological industries must be the drivers of economic growth. China skillfully uses the current situation and is actively spreading its scientific and technological achievements of the last months around the world, exporting test kits to more than 80 countries, thus strengthening its position as a scientific and technological power.

Now all eyes are on science. To some extent, this is the moment of truth for science. How will its organization in different countries contribute to its ability to find answers?  What is quick mobilization response? When is it possible? It is possible when certain groundwork has been laid. Have we laid any groundwork for our science to get quick answers? After several months, we will see how good our response was, to what extent our test kits and vaccine development results will be able to compete.

It is necessary to increase the role of the country’s fundamental science because a quick response is possible only if groundwork is there. If there’s no groundwork, there’ll be no results for quick implementation in industry and medicine.

An important question is to what extent science has the ability to quickly respond to the challenges of the crisis. Unfortunately, the Academy of Sciences lacks necessary organizational resources, and we are even unable to quickly convey the existing proposals to the working teams for implementation.

Another important point is to properly direct financial resources to science to enable it to offer quick, appropriate and effective solutions.

Let me repeat that the crisis is the moment of truth for science: how effectively it’s organized and whether any groundwork has been laid for it. How effective have we, Russian scientists, been in responding to the challenges we face?

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