Modern life is changing so fast. Achievements of science and innovative technologies are rapidly entering to our lives, and today’s developments turn their tasks into more compact and convenient devices of tomorrow. The tasks of the Ministry of Innovative Development include the study, evaluation, commercialization of innovative ideas and technical developments of our innovative, potential young people, as well as practical assistance in finding a useful partner if necessary. We talked about the work done and the upcoming tasks with the Minister of Innovative Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan Ibrokhim Abdurakhmanov, who heads this organization.
— In September 2018 the Strategy for Innovative Development for 2019-2021 was adopted, what are the main results of this?
— In 2018, a strategic document was adopted that aimed at uniting the efforts of state bodies and organizations in the field of innovative development – Strategy of innovation development of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2019-2021. The main goal of the Strategy is to develop human capital as the main factor determining the level of the country’s competitiveness in the world arena and innovative progress of the country. In addition, one of the objectives of the Strategy is the to make the Republic of Uzbekistan one of 50 leading countries in the world according to the Global Innovation Index (GII) by 2030.
In the past 3 years, the Government of Uzbekistan has been implementing measures to develop the National Innovation System and introducing policy instruments aimed at developing human capital for research, science, invention and technology transfer, improving the system of financing innovation activities, developing infrastructure and ICT technologies, improving the education system, developing competition and reducing administrative barriers.
Over the past period, an integrated system of innovation management was created in accordance with the national goals and Strategy objectives. As a result of the implementation of the strategy, the government has identified the key institutions that make up the country’s innovative ecosystem and implemented a number of related measures.
The Government Decree from December 15, 2020 approved the strategy of innovation development of the agricultural education system until 2030. Therefore currently, practical work is being carried out on the application of innovative resource-saving technologies in agriculture, the introduction of “smart agriculture” (Smart agriculture) and digital technologies. In 2019-2021, the concept of introducing “smart city” technologies is being implemented in the Republic of Uzbekistan.
The status and prestige of scientists in society is also increasing and positive results are achieved in providing them with material and moral support. Targeted measures are being taken to ensure the broad participation of young people in innovation. Effective and transparent mechanisms for financing science and innovation based on the best world practices have been introduced.
Regarding to the achievements, first of all, a new system of science management has been inducted. In particular, on the basis of the experience of advanced countries, it has been introduced a mechanism for forming a state order for scientific research. The Ministry regularly allocates funds for competitions for thematic and result-oriented research projects, as well as provides access to grants on a competitive basis. As a result, a competitive environment has been created, grants have become available on an ongoing basis. In comparison with 2017 project financing increased by 3.5 times, and at least 40 percent of funds were directed to the purchase of the necessary equipment, reagents and materials. For example, during 2021 904.1 billion soum was allocated to support 603 projects.
Moreover, the partnership relations with Germany, Russia, Turkey, Israel, Belarus and other countries are actively developing. In 2021-2022, within the framework of cooperation with China, India, Turkmenistan, Iran, Belarus, Russia, Hungary and EAPI (Eurasian Association for the Support of Scientific Research) it is planned to finance about 100 international research projects. Up to date, in collaborative relationship with abovementioned partners more than 62 billion soum was allocated to support 70 international research projects.
Innovative infrastructure has been strengthened throughout the country, including 3 regional innovation centers, 5 technoparks, an experimental platform for testing innovative projects, specialized business accelerators for research projects, as well as an innovative telemedicine clinic “DMC” in remote areas of Uzbekistan.
The country has formed a startup ecosystem that covers the main stages of support from idea to the ultimate consumer. With the support of state grants, a system of support and financing of start-up projects was formed, and as a result of financing of 139 start-up projects for a total of 91.9 billion soums, more than 1,100 jobs have been created, the production of competitive new products was launched. Moreover, a national venture fund “UzVC” with a total investment of 15 billion soums has been established to support advanced innovative projects. The commercialization of science became a priority, and it was introduced a new system based on the elements of “scientist – bank – entrepreneur”. In particular, 372 innovative developments were commercialized, the volume of high-tech products exceeded 235.3 billion soums. In order to accelerate the introduction of new science-intensive technologies in to economy of the country, it has been implemented a technology transfer system and the total volume of investment projects has reached 3.3 million dollars.
In support of the initiatives of talented youth and involve them in innovation and scientific activity, it was established the Youth Academy under the Ministry of Innovative Development. Currently, more than 2000 young people have joined the ranks of 15 leaders in all regions of the republic. A specialized competitions for young scientists have been announced and in 2020 the Academy has allocated 30.2 billion soum to support prospective practical and innovative projects.
The entry of the Republic of Uzbekistan into the Global Innovation Index in 2020 is the result of the country’s efforts and achievements in the field of innovative development. In 2021, in this rating, our country took 86th place among 132 states, which is 7 positions higher compared to the previous year and 36 points higher than in 2015. Uzbekistan has made progress in such areas as “Quality of governance institutions”, “Human capital and research activities”, “Market development”, “Business development”, “Science and technology”, “Creative products”, “Infrastructure”.
— What do you think what opportunities should be given to develop science and high-tech?
— At the same time, analysis demonstrates the need for further expansion of the innovation ecosystem created throughout the country, particularly providing further support for scientific activities and start-up initiatives, increasing labor productivity, creating new jobs and this is a priority of the economy Uzbekistan. It can be achieved through the organization of production of new products at innovative enterprises, as well as increasing the quality of products at large and cluster enterprises, ensuring their low cost and employment at innovative production sites.
Another urgent task is developing the national innovative ecosystem is to radically reconsider the clustering system in our country, based on world experience. Today, the development of the regions of the republic is carried out through the extensive use of natural resources. Increasing risk of depletion of existing natural reserves is due to the creation of industrial clusters based on the best practices of the leading countries of the world to increase the share of scientific and technical (innovative) products in the gross domestic product of the country.
It is necessary to ensure the continuity of the entire supply chain from the supply of raw materials in production and services to the final consumer. It is necessary to develop a national infrastructure adapted to the requirements of the market, expand scientific potential, increase the efficiency of research activities and the commercialize the science. To increase the export potential of the country, the need to increase the number of enterprises with international quality certificates, create new jobs, reduce poverty, ensure youth and women employment and develop a new and sustainable innovation ecosystem in Uzbekistan requires more consistent reform of science, technology and innovation.
Therefore, it is very important to improve the system of financing science and scientific activities, as well as to diversify the sources of funding. Thus, to achieve this, it is expected to increase the share of the total funds transferred to science by 2025 year in relation to the gross domestic product by 6 times, and by 2030 year by 10 times.
— What are the main streams of innovative development of Uzbekistan and how are they supported by the government?
— Targeted state programs aimed at the development of science and innovation will cover chemistry, biology, mathematics and geology, which are identified as priorities for science for 2020 and up today. Our priorities in 2021 are the development of biotechnology, artificial intelligence, robotics, hydrogen energy, the copper industry, soil science and viticulture.
The programs focus on developing high-skilled personnel and researchers, adapting scientific research with the needs of economy, conducting results-oriented research for economic integration, modernizing scientific infrastructure for effective and modern researches.
According to the Concept for the Development of Science until 2030, strategic reforms in the field of national science are currently continuing. In particular, a national rating system was aimed at assessing the effectiveness of scientific and innovative activities of scientific organizations. This study will serve to make decisions on how and to what extent to finance institutions, to strengthen their human resources. Projects are being implemented in the framework of social partnership between the state and scientific organizations through the development of science self-government.
Over the past 2021, the ministry has financed 318 scientific projects worth 485.668 billion soums, 643 projects worth 904.1 billion soums were implemented within the framework of state programs on scientific activity. Moreover, total of 248 scientific scientific works for amount of 153.2 billion sums were commercialized. As a result of the work, products worth 136.9 billion soums were produced and products worth 131.3 billion soums were sold and services worth 16.3 billion soums were provided.
Across the republic-wide, the quotas for admission to basic doctoral and doctoral studies in all specialties at the expense of the state budget have been increased by 15%. In order to increase the number of articles in scientific journals, a free academic English language curriculum «English for Science» was organized for 200 researchers.