13 September 2023

Innovation Space became a platform for discussing current topics on the youth agenda

The second day of the Innovation Space at the 8th Eastern Economic Forum was devoted to the youth agenda. All the events of the platform, organized by the Roscongress Foundation to support scientific and technical potential and high-tech companies, were related to this agenda to a greater or lesser extent.

Larisa Sulima, Deputy Director General for Regional Cooperation at the Directorate of the World Youth Festival, delivered a vibrant presentation about the upcoming World Youth Festival, scheduled to be held from 1 to 7 March 2024, at the Sirius federal territory. The festival will host 20,000 participants, including young entrepreneurs, journalists, cultural figures, athletes, volunteers, students, and schoolchildren from Russia and other countries around the world.

"There will be a large-scale intercultural dialogue among modern youth who aspire to live in a multipolar world where dignity and justice are acknowledged, where cultural diversity prevails, and where everyone is different but equal," Larisa Sulima stressed.

Innovation Space also included a panel discussion titled Global South Initiative: Next Generation Leaders Cooperation, which brought together participants from the Friends for Leadership community of young leaders from Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The goals of the community are to foster global civil society development and advance the Sustainable Development Goals.

The topic of the younger generation, this time in terms of education, was continued in the panel discussion World-Class Campuses: Driver of Human Capital Development in the Far East, moderated by Yury Saprykin, Vice President for Regional and International Development, Skolkovo Foundation.

Olga Petrova, Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, stated that there are plans to establish 25 world-class campuses in the country, with locations for 17 of them already identified. Simultaneously, in her view, it is crucial to establish an effective connection between educational institutions, regional authorities, and employers during the design stage.

"Only this will allow the production of specialists who will be in demand in the job market," noted the expert. "And, of course, regional leaders are interested in graduates staying in their regions."

The panellists were fully in favour of such an approach.

"A campus is not simply cutting a ribbon and starting teaching," agreed Yury Marfin, Acting Rector of the Pacific National University, which is having a campus built in Khabarovsk. "We are already in the midst of planning and designing various activities to ensure that students choose our university not only for beautiful modern locations and beautiful walls but also to engage in competitive educational programmes and interesting scientific projects."

In turn, Stanislav Neverov, General Director of the East Arctic Oil and Gas Corporation, which is investing in the Khabarovsk campus, explained why the company decided to be a part of such an expensive project (the total investment volume is around RUB 25 billion, with RUB 15 billion coming from private capital): "It is easier and better to invest in the education and infrastructure of one's native country and retain the added value locally over a horizon of 5–10 years, rather than losing the opportunity to attract local specialists to high-tech businesses in a few years."

Both companies and campuses are facing staffing issues. According to Alexander Samardak, Acting Rector of Sakhalin State University, 300–350 scientists will be needed to launch the research and education centre.

"Our task is to assemble a team over the next three years while everything is being built because if we construct 88 thousand square meters now, who will occupy it?” he said, noting that the preparation of laboratories to be used in the future on the new campus has already commenced at the location of old buildings. Simultaneously, project work has already started with schoolchildren. "These young individuals will be engaged with the goal of eventually becoming our students," Alexander Samardak explained.

Involving people, especially the youth, in science was the theme of a separate session titled Science for Everyone: The Path to Ensuring Equal Access to Knowledge in the Field of Popular Science.

"Science and technology are the foundation of our well-being, global competitiveness, and economic development. Therefore, it is important that the knowledge born within the walls of laboratories transitions into society and takes root there", said Konstantin Fursov, the moderator of the discussion, setting the tone of the discussion. Fursov combines the positions of Advisor to the General Director of the Polytechnic Museum for Science and Education, Associate Research Professor at ITMO University, and member of the Coordinating Council for Youth Affairs in the scientific and educational fields.

Olga Starikova, the Head of the Directorate for Support of National Projects and Traditional Media at ANO National Priorities, cited surveys in which 81% of Russians declared some level of interest in scientific discoveries, and 64% of parents expressed a desire for their children to pursue careers in science and scientific research. She also announced the online course "Sciencepop Journalism" at the Innovation Space, a collaborative effort between ANO National Priorities and RT, which was launched during the Eastern Economic Forum.

Elaborating on the topic of science journalism, Alexey Paevsky, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the portal Neuronovosti.Ru, emphasized an important function of the portal: the popularization of related fields of science among scientists.

"We do not go deep into science, but our task is to maintain a broad perspective and assist scientists in navigating the vast world of science to make new discoveries."

According to Stepan Kalmykov, Dean of the Chemistry Department at Lomonosov Moscow State University and Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the core of people popularizing science should be scientists themselves, "who are capable of making the most modern and interesting knowledge accessible in accessible language."

An unusual idea was expressed by Irina Belykh, Program Director of the Festival of Contemporary Scientific Films “FANK” and curator of the “Science as Art” initiative of the Decade of Science and Technology:

"We live in the age of the experience economy. It seems to me that to make science accessible and open, we should turn it into experiences. And art allows us to do that, just as science fiction once created an image of the future."

Andrey Blinov, Deputy General Director of the Russian Science Foundation; Andrey Kozhanov, Director of the Center for Academic Development of Students at the National Research University Higher School of Economics and Director of the Moscow branch of the Russian Society Znanie; and Konstantin Ruder, Deputy Director of the Communications Department of Rosatom State Corporation, also shared their experiences in promoting knowledge.


Read more