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Posted: February 5, 2010
Putin and Chubais discuss nanotechnology
(Nanowerk News) The Government of the Russian Federation has published a transcript of a recent meeting between Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Russian Nanotechnologies Corporation CEO Anatoly Chubais. They have discussed the work of the Russian Nanotechnologies Corporation in the preceding two years, its priority projects, and streamlining the legal basis of the corporationís work and of the overall development of the innovation sector. Mr Putin has paid attention to pooling efforts with Western partners.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Russian Nanotechnologies Corporation CEO Anatoly Chubais.
Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:
Vladimir Putin: Mr Chubais, I would like to ask you a few questions. The first concerns your achievements in 2008 and 2009. The second concerns your priority projects, which you mention so often. Let us raise the topic once again. Last but not least, what is being done to improve the legal basis of your company's work? Does it correspond to current objectives?
Anatoly Chubais: Let us begin with your first question. Putting it in a nutshell, we have a basic document-the corporate strategy adopted two years ago. It sets our basic objectives. We fell beyond the schedule, somewhat, in 2008 but caught up last year to cope with both years' plan tasks.
I mean, first of all, the number of projects the company approved, and investment in practical projects. We have accepted 64 projects for today. A majority of them imply opening a new plant, though some concern only expansion and modernisation.
The total makes 64 projects, as I have said, with total funds of 196 billion roubles, of which private co-investment accounts for a major part, which is of great importance to us. Our own investment slightly exceeds 90 billion roubles. The rest comes from investors in the nanotechnological innovation sector.
On the whole, we think we have attained a satisfactory level as far as pace, quantitative indices and the rate of innovations launched are concerned. The job no longer needs revolutionary breakthroughs.
However, the quality of projects leaves ample room for improvement. We are shifting emphasis on quality as we have coped with quantity.
As for the principal projects, there are several spheres-entire industries, I should say-totally new to Russia. They were non-existent quite recently, and are born now under our eyes.
Solar energy industry comes first. Its world market is growing apace, at 30-40% a year. Even the crisis has not hit it badly. We think Russia has every chance to make a competitive appearance in this market.
A solar battery plant under construction in Chuvashia's Novocheboksarsk is one of the most promising projects in this field. It also has a private partner-Mr Vekselberg's company.
Vladimir Putin: There are also some assets purchased in Europe-a lucky acquisition.
Anatoly Chubais: Yes, it is.
Vladimir Putin: There is also an opportunity to pool technological and other efforts.
Anatoly Chubais: This is what we are doing. We think it is a reasonable thing to do because there is a European-Swiss plant to make comprehensive equipment supplies to Novocheboksarsk for solar battery manufacture.
I have visited the construction site. The plant is being designed now, and preparations are made to purchase equipment. The plant will open no later than in two years to start battery mass production to 120 megawatts a year.
What matters much to us is that our partner can assume the next stage of the technological cycle-solar power plant construction and assembly. This is a good company with considerable experience. So we have got hold of the entire processing chain from start to finish.
It needs another thing for the start. I mean polysilicon. The entire silicon energy industry rests on polysilicon, and our plant is no exception.
That is why we have launched an infrastructural project I deem essential. That is polysilicon manufacture in Usolye Sibirskoye, in the Irkutsk Region.
The plant has opened already, and its output is 1,500 tonnes to increase toward the year's end when another production line is launched.
The entire Russian solar energy industry will base on this plant, which has allowed exceed Soviet polysilicon output significantly.
There are another several similar projects in this sphere, some of them belonging to our corporation.
You have visited a plant in the Krasnoyarsk Territory which is working along the same lines. All such companies depend on polysilicon. We will not merely satisfy the Russian market entirely for them but also export polysilicon, judging by the quality of that company's products.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Chubais, we discussed another problem two years ago-research cooperation. I mean cooperation with our Western partners and even closer one with colleagues from former Soviet republics. Many of them have preserved relevant personnel but lost production capabilities. They can have our support for a united nanotechnological research network. Is anything being done in this respect? What do you think?
Anatoly Chubais: We are contributing to this work. What we know about efforts made outside our corporation is that the Science Ministry has initiated the establishment of what can be termed "CIS Nanocentre", to focus on research. It is only in the making.
As for our corporation, it deals with the next stage as you have meant it. That is the stage at which research begins to bring fruit in production and business. Here, nothing has been done to write home about but there are some achievements, still.
Our rather difficult talks with Kazakhstani partners have resulted in a decision to start a joint venture nanotechnological fund, to which we and Kazakhstan will contribute. We have a partner to reckon with there. It is the Kazyna, Kazakhstan's largest government fund. We would like to take up Kazakhstani and Russian projects together to develop them into practical businesses.
Vladimir Putin: Now, for the regulatory basis.
Anatoly Chubais: It abounds in legislative gaps, and there are redundant barriers and downright bans on innovation products. We see them not merely in theory-we clash with them in our projects and so get practical knowledge, which I deem priceless, on what improvements the acting legislation demands.
The work is rather active. We have close contacts with the Economic Development, Science and Finance ministries, and the job has brought its first fruit. Here are our principal achievements.
First, surprisingly, almost all innovators complain not so much of taxation as obstacles to innovation product exports and imports.
Our legislation makes no difference between a million tonnes of grain and, let say, a scientist's test tube. The procedure is entangled to the utmost. We have drawn a project named Green Corridor for Innovation Products. It aims art a comprehensive decision, which concerns the Customs Code, the Currency Control Law, the Export Control Law, and about 30 government resolutions proceeding from them. The goal is to streamline the opportunity of foreign economic contacts for innovation companies. The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs approved the draft law after its Innovation Committee heart it. We summoned the managers of our plants for the purpose a few days ago-they know the obstacles from experience.
We have practical support as we are discussing the basic premises of relevant documents with the Economic Development, Science and Finance ministries. I have talked to Mr Igor Shuvalov. With consideration for the Customs Union, we need the proposals we submit implemented urgently not only in the Russian customs space but also the new, common one.
Another work stream, which is more complicated, concerns the Tax Code. We think it leaves ample room for improvement. What we have now suits the industrial economy while we need one for the post-industrial economy. We are about to finish the job. Importantly, the Finance Ministry has displayed understanding and constructive attitudes despite its usual conservatism in such matters. Now, we see each other's point and we work together. I think we will be able to submit you an all-round proposal on Tax Code amendments for innovators and their products before the end of February.
It concerns several kinds of taxes from profit to private income. The target is the same. We do not think the job should finish with that. Legislation in need of revision includes technical regulation, which is of our close concern, and corporate management. Available organisational and legal norms do not meet the needs of the innovation economy. What we need is to introduce a new organisational and legal pattern, which we are working at. It is innovation partnership.
There are many other laws, up to migration legislation, that need improvement. A top-notch expert who accompanies sophisticated assembly and adjustment equipment to Russia has to get through the same formalities as any worker. That is wrong. The law aims at limitations while our goal is attraction. We think, these laws also demand correction, and we are drawing relevant proposals.
Vladimir Putin: As you know, a fifth generation aircraft made its test flight recently. Nanotechnologies were used, among others, for its manufacture. Solar energy might be essential and promising, and it can help us to acquire a good position in the world market-but we need new materials and microelectronics for our own economic needs. In this field, we have ambitious preliminary agreements with, let say, Israeli experts. What is being done for partnerships in this field?
Anatoly Chubais: I think we are doing a good job for nanocomposites. Our closest partner in this field is Mr Pogosyan and his aircraft corporation [Mikhail Pogosyan is the First Deputy President of the United Aircraft-Building Corporation, and CEO of the Sukhoi and MIG companies]. He is member of our Observation Council.
This is a first-ever project to manufacture prepregs for aircraft building in Russia. It is an ambitious project. The first pilot line has been launched in Klimovsk, where we had a meeting recently. We expect it to develop into a supplier of civil and military aircraft parts.
Importantly, we have been dealing from the start not with abstract partners but with potential consumers. We are paying great attention to this field. Another major project is likely to be launched soon because, side by side with prepregs, we must start manufacturing the fibre the laminate is made of.
As for our partnership with Israel, it is developing. An initial project has been launched. It concerns not nanomaterials but another sphere. We also hope for nanotechnological partnership, too. The Ministry of Industry is finishing the signing of a relevant treaty on our proposal.
The Israeli partner is the Ministry of Industry, to be precise, its Chief Scientist's service, with which we cooperate. The Israeli president and prime minister are promoting the project, and we feel their support.
I think the document will be signed in March or April, at the latest. It will open much broader partnership vistas.
Vladimir Putin: Two more questions please. The first concerns the themes on which your corporation is working. I know you have proposed to expand its thematic range. That is possible. But still, it should stay within the limits of tasks for which it has been established. Nanotechnologies should remain your basic field though there are many other interesting high technological fields of crucial importance for the national economy. Still, please stay in nanotechnologies.
Next comes funding. The crisis has made the Finance Ministry withdraw a part of money earmarked for the corporation on long terms. You know I think these sums must be reimbursed in full, and we have agreed upon it. Corporation funding will be under strict supervision. You can rely on me for it.
How are things going now?
Anatoly Chubais: Proceeding from your stance, we have elaborated the corporation's long-term financial strategy with the Finance and Science ministries-not year by year but for six years through 2015, for which we have set nanoproduction targets of a national scope to total 900 billion roubles. Our financial strategy has been planned precisely through that year. It has acquired the status of a government document-executive order, to be precise. Now, all our problems are settled.
We know what we will do this year, next, and two and more years after. The strategy also envisages, as a separate clause, loans promoted by the Finance Ministry-sovereign loans, in fact. We are ready to emerge in the market of such loans. The market needs the utmost transparency and full realisation of what will become of our financial flows. We are specifying our ratings, and will finish it quite soon. I am confident that the corporation has no unsettled problems as far as funds and financial strategies go. The situation has come back to normal.