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Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

 Федеральный исследовательский центр «Красноярский научный центр Сибирского отделения Российской академии наук»

Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

«If there is no science in a region, this region turns into a colony»

8 August 2019 г. FRC KSC SB RAS

«Если в регионе нет науки, то эта территория просто превращается в колонию»
The director of the Krasnoyarsk Science Center SB RAS Nikita Volkov in his interview to «Continent Siberia» speaks about the experience in the integration of the regional academic institutes in the frames of the federal research center, gives his opinion about a possibility of developing the Arctic areas of the Krasnoyarsk Region, as well as about the promising research of the Krasnoyarsk scientists; he also considers the problems which hinder the development of scientific centers behind the Urals.
— Nikita Valentinovich, the representatives of different regional scientific centers in their interviews to «Continent Siberia» emphasized that not a single center was created for the sake of appearance; every center was formed to meet the particular needs of the regions. What, in your opinion, was the purpose of creating the Krasnoyarsk Science Center (KSC)? What are the peculiarities of the center?
— The date of the foundation of KSC can be considered to be in 1956, when the first academic institution was created in the Krasnoyarsk Region; it was the Institute of Physics founded by Academician Leonid Vasilyevich Kirensky. It was even earlier than the formation of SB RAS whose foundation is thought to date back to 1957. I believe, in this connection, there is even some jealousy on the part of Novosibirsk scientists.
The aim of creating the scientific center in Krasnoyarsk was understood by the authorities as the necessity to develop not only the center of the state. It is not a secret that our country is too centralized; the main resources are concentrated in Moscow and Saint Petersburg and in the adjacent to them regions. Other centers and resources were very unevenly distributed across the giant area of the USSR.
There has always been understanding of the necessity to develop these regions. As they say now, provide the connection of the regions of the country. A correct decision was made to develop regional science. Novosibirsk became the first regional scientific center to be followed by other Siberian cities. In my opinion, if in any region of the Russian Federation there is no science, no education, no intellectual center provided by these spheres which are closely connected with each other, this region turns into a colony.
The Institute of Physics, in the first place, was established as an academic institution involved into fundamental science. Krasnoyarsk State University (now, Siberian Federal University) was created not far fr om the Institute to train the future staff. First, it was a branch of Novosibirsk University, then it became an individual institution. Essentially, everything was done by Leonid Kirensky, he understood that it was necessary for these institutions to be closely interconnected. As soon as the high level of science and education develops in the city, conditions can appear for the influence of science on industry.
All the scientific institutions in Akademgorodok, with the exception of the Institute of Forest, were, to some extent, established on the basis of the branches of the Institute of Physics (The Institute of Biophysics, the Institute of Computational Modeling, the Institute of Chemistry and Chemical Technology).The Institute of Forest moved fr om Moscow. In the time of the Soviet Union a question was raised why the institute which studied Siberian forests was in the capital, and thus, a decision was made to transfer the Institute of Forest to Krasnoyarsk.
Before 2016 all the Institutes included into FRC KSC SB RAS were independent legal bodies, later, under the influence of the reforms in the Russian Academy of Sciences, at that time, in the Federal Agency of Scientific Organizations) an idea was put forward concerning the improvements in the system of academic institutes: to unite them for the cumulative and synergetic effects to appear.
In this connection, I always joke that I do not know what the cumulative effect is but I know about the cumulative anti-tank grenade. If it is thrown at a tank, there is hardly any chance to survive. The synergetic effect, really, manifests itself. However, synergetics, as the science concerning non-equilibrium systems does not guarantee that such a system will continue functioning and will not get destroyed.
Nevertheless, after long discussions we decided to unite. It happened on August, 1st, 2016, all the academic institutes (including the medical and agricultural ones) in the Krasnoyarsk Region united into the Federal Research Center.
— Did the synergetic effect appear?
— There used to be different opinions about the advantages of uniting into FRC. I always considered it to be a project connected with infrastructure, the creation of a unified complex of lands and estate in the Krasnoyarsk Akademgorodok, the elimination of many economic and legal borders between the institutes, centralization of departments whose funding is difficult for small institutes, creation of the center of collective use and other unified structures. After uniting, the interaction between the institutes became easier. Initially, we agreed upon preserving the financial and economic independence of the institutes.
We continue the development of interdisciplinary research in KSC SB RAS. So, we created the Joint Center of the Earth remote sensing. In this center we work together with SibFU, besides, we have a contract with Roscosmos according to which they provide us with satellite images of areas for remote sensing. In this center there are specialists from the Institute of Forest, Institute of Physics and Institute of Computational Modeling. Scientists from the Institute of Agriculture have also joint this work. They have developed a digital map of an experimental farm containing all the necessary information. However, the task is more global: that is, using remote sensing to on-line determine the optimal conditions for sowing and harvesting crops.
It has not only become easier to interact, many researchers have got access to the equipment which could not be imagined earlier. For example, the scientists from the Institute of the Medical Problems of the North have got access to electron microscopes. Now, they regularly work in the Center of Collective Use. There they can obtain unique information for their research. We, physicists, understand very little about it but it is a breakthrough for them. The same can be said about agriculture.
The problem of «aptamers» turns out to be very interesting. It is also multi-disciplinary involving biologists, medical workers and physicists. Aptamers are parts of DNA which can be used for treating cancer. The idea is that it is possible to obtain aptamers which upon entering the organism become closely bound only with cancer cells. An aptamer can not be attached to a healthy cell, only to a damaged one. Our scientists supply this aptamer with a magnetic disc or a nanoparticle. The aptamer with the introduced particle finds a cancer cell and the particle under the influence of alternating magnetic field starts destroying the cancer cell. I emphasize that healthy cells are not damaged.
— At what stage is the practical medical application of aptamers?
— There is a number of publications devoted to this problem. We have applied for a grant of the Russian Foundation of Advanced Research Projects. This organization considers advanced developments which are highly risky for the application. We have successfully fulfilled the avan-project of this foundation in which the main ideas of using aptamers for the purposes of theranostics of cancer diseases have been confirmed in mice. The experiment has shown the possibility of treating some cancer diseases using this technology. However, much must be done, considered and checked. This is, nevertheless is a large joint project for specialists from many fields. We are sure that the project will be successful.
— What are the most urgent tasks for KSC today, in particular, taking into account the recent global project of the development of Russia (national projects) in which emphasis is made on the development of science and knowledge-based industries? What facilities do Krasnoyarsk scientists have to fulfill these projects?
— Now, at every level it is declared that science must work for technologically advanced enterprises, for the development of new technologies, science itself must earn money since the state is unable to support fundamental research. In my opinion, science is not a branch of industry. It is closer to art, creativity, only later, on the basis of scientific achievements it is possible to build advanced economy. The accepted idea that science is a maid of economy is essentially incorrect. I think it is connected with misunderstanding of the essence of scientific sphere.
— Perhaps, the idea that science is a maid of economy comes from the absence of money for science in the country?
— I think this is not the case. Finally, fundamental science does not require much money. In comparison with expenses in other spheres for the development of science, big sums are not necessary. We can give an example of quickly developing countries: Canada, USA, Japan, Korea, European countries. They invest in percentage correlation more money into science than our country.
In the developed countries finance, science and education are not so centralized. In France, Germany and the USA all the best universities are located in small towns. In China universities are located not only in Beijing but in many provinces of this big country. The universities are big and they do not go behind the institutions in the capital. In our country, the urge for centralization has not become obsolete yet.
— How actively does KSC participate in the national project «Science»?
— What is going on recently, I mean the May decrees and national projects still gives us some hope and opportunities. The most important fact is that the state has paid attention to science. How will the project be put into effect, time will show.
I emphasize that the ideas in the basis of the national project are good. Another thing is the financial support: the funds allocated for the nearest 5 years cannot radically change the situation in science. The biggest part of the financial support must come from business but I do not see the real mechanisms of such investments.
In the frames of the Program of the development of SB RAS, which can be considered as a part of the national project «Science», KSC has developed 6 projects of investments and a project of scientific-educational center (SEC). Each of these centers is regional, however, we have suggested a trans-regional center «Space systems and technologies», wh ere the main enterprise, the industrial partner would be the JSC Reshetnev «Information and satellite systems». This is really high technology industry, its technologies are supplied by all the regions of Russia. It was planned to include SibFU, academic institutes from Novosibirsk and the flagship University of Krasnoyarsk into the Scientific-Educational Center. The President of RAS Alexander Sergeev who visited us, supported this initiative. However, the final decision has not yet been made. The project is at the stage of coordination.
— What budget is required for your SEC?
— This is, actually, the money from the enterprises interested in the development of advanced technologies and the money which can be given by KSC, Institutions of higher education, other participants from science and education. The budget of the perspective innovative project for the nearest 5 years «Space systems and technologies» is of the order of 6 billion roubles.
— It turns out that if SEC is trans-regional you cannot rely upon funding from the national project «Science»?
— No, we can’t. One more important issue: today I do not see any reason to participate in this competition. Without any national project we are searching for potential industrial partners in order to interact with them.
You participate in the project, this is, essentially, our usual activity, only under the name of SEC. Only, we will have to report about the results, KPI, patents, license agreements. However, the federal funding is planned to be not very big. What is the purpose of organizing this SEC if you have so many things to report. We could organize our own scientific- educational center which will correspond to our needs.
We are not planning to participate in the competition or a genome or mathematical center in the frames of the national project «Science» since we have no specialized institutes. As far as the competition for the World level scientific center is concerned, we are going to participate in it, using, for example, the potential of the Institute of Physics. In the area of physics of magnetic phenomena, it is one of the recognized leaders in Russia. Using the potential of the Center of Collective Use and other institutes of KSC there are possibilities for creating a center of magnetic research.
—At the meetings of the Presidium of SB RAS a question was often raised about the lack of funding for scientific centers in Siberia (in Tomsk and in Buryatia). What can you say about the financial support of the Institutes in KSC?
— The financial support of our center is at the level of 2014 when FASO was formed and funding started to decrease. Considerable growth of revenue was observed in 2018. Before that, we had had five difficult years. Considerable support came from the program of the development of SRC KSC SB RAS in 2016-2018, according to it we received about 450 mln roubles. Using this money we purchased the equipment for the Center of Collective Use and made some renovation.
In 2019 we have no funds to buy equipment because the program of development has finished. There have been delays with funding the creation of new laboratories which is also in the frames of the national project «Science». At the beginning of the year we created 7 laboratories, mainly, for young scientists wh ere 100 new positions appeared, and perspective researches were chosen for these positions. However, the financial support from the state appeared only at the beginning of June. During all this period the researchers had been paid from our own funds. Surprisingly, the financial support amounted to 60% from the sums allocated by the organizers of the competition, the Ministry of Science and Education of the Russian Federation. The remaining sums have to be found by us.
As far as funding regional science centers is concerned, there is a system error here, how to make corrections is still unclear. Today, the financial support of scientific institutions is performed by the Ministry of Science and Education on the basis of donations in the frames of the state assignment – carrying out research work. There are no other funds.
However, the whole infrastructure in Akademgorodok must be maintained by the science centers: buildings, housing and utility sector, water and electricity supply, salaries for non-scientific staff etc. The Ministry of Science and Education relies on the donations which depend on the regulatory number of research stuff. The question is: what funds must be used to finance the non-scientific departments and social infrastructure? It is good that in Krasnoyarsk we united all the institutes into the science center and some money can be redistributed according to our interests.
However, in Tomsk, Ulan-Ude, Irkutsk this unification did not take place. There are no scientific departments within the centers, so the regulatory number of scientific staff equals to zero. Nevertheless, on balance, they have equipment, lands, utility systems, maintenance of Akademgorodok. The attitude of the Ministry: there is no research stuff, then, donations are not presupposed. As far as I know, in this year, the question of donations has been solved but the situation can be repeated in the next year. In general, is there any understanding how to solve the problem of financial support of the centers which have big infrastructure on balance which is not directly connected with scientific activity?
Another way is to transfer the infrastructure to the region or city, but this process can take as long as 5 years. Besides, an experienced manager will never accept utilities which require fixing, first, overall repair is necessary. There are no funds for this and the situation seems to have no solution which will have to be found, anyway.
— What about the situation in KSC concerning another question urgent for SB RASК, the question of property management?
— My opinion is: to transfer the land with houses to the city. The flats are privatized; there are house-hold cooperatives. Make fences, organize car parks and playgrounds. We could manage that but nobody gives us funds.
We are also ready to transfer the land for somebody who has money and time to maintain it. Unfortunately, for many years we have not been able to solve the problem of land zoning in Akademgorodok. What is the reason of that, we can only guess. As for building there is a great number of new houses in Akademgorodok, I am against it, but this is my personal opinion. Under the conditions of uncontrolled development of housing the spirit of Akademgorodok will be lost and problems with the school and kindergartens will become more acute.
On the other hand, construction companies can do nothing on our land without the permission of the federal authorities. Besides, the population and ecologists will also be against it, so massive housing development is hardly possible in Akademgorodok. I assume that the Ministry of Science and Education is also not interested in transferring the lands which belong to the Academy of Sciences, for building houses, it is the property of the Academy.
— Krasnoyarsk Region is the only unit of the Siberian Federal District which has lands in the Arctic zone which is, in the opinion of the leaders of the country, one of the strategically important regions for the development of Russia. Do the Institutes of KSC participate in the development of the Arctic region? In your opinion, does this region have high potential? What must be done for the development of the Arctic which belongs to the Krasnoyarsk Region?
— Yes, the Arctic region is a popular topic now. This is the supply of natural resources under the conditions when the main deposits in Russia are being depleted. The main enterprise in the North is Nornickel. In the Soviet time, it gave about 4% of the country’s GDP. This is a private enterprise now with the great financial volume.
The Arctic region has great potential. How to develop it now, in spite of the slogans, is unclear. To my mind, not a single enterprise can develop the Arctic independently. Besides, there are no conditions for companies to invest into northern areas. Therefore, the development of the Arctic is the task of the state. There should be special state programs directed towards it.
An important aspect is building high quality housing and creation of favorable environmental conditions for the life of people in the North. I have only once visited Norilsk and the impression is depressive.
—Do scientists have any orders for technologies for the development of the Arctic, or conceptions of development?
— Concerning the technologies of mining or treatment of natural resources, mostly, we have had no orders for many years, there has been the idea that all the necessary technologies can be bought abroad. The same mood exists now. To develop technologies time is required, but mining companies need the technologies right now. Today, as a result of the sanctions when there appear problems with the availability of foreign technologies there is some understanding of the necessity to consider our own possibilities, but there is still no great change of the situation.
We are open for interaction, we have results in this area. For example, the Institute of Forest is the only institution which studies boreal (coniferous) forests. The institute of the Medical Problems of the North has results concerning the development of diseases among the local population of the North, the influence of extreme weather conditions on human health. In the Institute of Biophysics the scientists have developed the basis for the creation of environmentally friendly energy-saving houses with the closed cycle for the conditions of the Far North. We are ready, using the technologies of remote sensing, to carry out the monitoring of the areas being developed, predict fires and the behavior of the permafrost. We have all the necessary scientific potential for the scientific support of the development of the Arctic region- we have not only one thing – public order.
— One of the most well-known projects of investments in the Krasnoyarsk Region is «Yenisei Siberia». What is the role of KSC in this project?
—This is a good investment project implemented by the team of our governor Alexander Uss. In my opinion, it is mainly directed to the support of oil-gas industry, and in general to the model of economy directed to the extraction of mineral resources. In this case, science again must act as a maid. It can be possible at some stage of development, but essentially, this is incorrect.
— How would you estimate the interaction of Krasnoyarsk scientists with the team of Alexander Uss? Do regional authorities help to develop the scientific potential of the region? Can you give examples of joint projects?
— In general, when the new team came, the working relations started forming. Now, possibilities have appeared to interact within the frames of the new programs of the Regional Scientific Foundation. The question about the creation of a Scientific Educational Center for the support of the investment program “Yenisei Siberia” is being considered. The idea is correct, and we are ready to start working in this direction. Anyway, we are living in the same region and working in one direction for its benefit and after some time our results will be needed.
Source: «Continent Siberia»