Faced with the requirements of socio-economic development and strongly renovating the growth model, the science and technology industry needs solutions to improve the quality of resources and the efficiency of these resources. Minister of Science and Technology Huỳnh Thành Đạt talks to the Science and Development online newspaper about the matter.
The 13th National Congress of the Party continued to affirm the important role of science, technology and innovation. What are the main tasks of the science and technology sector in 2022?
For the science and technology sector to contribute to enhancing national competitiveness and become the foundation for the country's sustainable development, I think there is no other way that improvements must be done in terms of quality and quantity for the country's resources, including public and private resources. However, new changes in investment in such resources will require the science and technology industry to make changes and efforts to use these resources effectively.
We need to perform the fundamental task of perfecting the legal system, mechanisms and policies on attracting and using resources for science, technology and innovation. It is an important basis for practical support and encouragement for enterprises to invest in innovation and application of technology and innovation, and at the same time to help the State effectively allocate and use the budget for the development of science, technology and innovation.
It is known that the Ministry of Science and Technology has focused on perfecting the legal system and policies to attract and use State resources for science, technology and innovation for many years. What is the breakthrough point that the ministry will focus on?
If we look back at science and technology activities in recent years, we can see that what hinders the sector’s effectiveness are the bottlenecks in the policy mechanism, especially the issue of using State budget for science, technology and innovation.
The allocation of the State budget on science, technology and innovation is not adequate; the investment rate is still low while recurrent expenditure is too high.
The level of spending for several science and technology activities for socio-economic development has not yet reached the threshold.
Another major bottleneck is that psychologically, managers still do not accept risks and do not trust researchers. Therefore, it is not only difficult to use State resources but also in the process of transferring research results using the State budget.
To remove these bottlenecks, in my opinion, it is necessary to have a radical change in the mindset, management methods, and risk-taking spirit to promote the application of new technologies and new business models.
In the context of limited investment resources, how can we optimise those resources in science, technology and innovation?
When our resources are still limited, one of the most effective solutions is to promote transparency in the management of science and technology tasks at all levels.
The Ministry of Science and Technology is reviewing and amending regulations on approval, management and evaluation of science and technology projects in the direction of openness, transparency, objectivity and simplifying administrative procedures.
This would allow scientists, businesses and people to easily look up and monitor, as well as participate in the proposal or implementation of science and technology projects.
Financial resources for science and technology and innovation need to be expanded and more flexible. However, the efficiency of using these resources depends greatly on the performance of science and technology organisations, which are mainly public ones. How can the performance of these organisations be improved?
First of all, we must re-plan the network of science and technology organisations throughout the country to meet the development needs of the country, to conduct more effective investment.
Research and planning on the network of public science and technology organisations for the period of 2021 - 2030 with a vision to 2050 is being carried out by the Ministry of Science and Technology to create conditions for the organisations to operate more effectively. This is a complicated job because of the differences in structural models, operation mechanisms and financial mechanisms of these organisations.
What we need to do right away is to drastically review and rearrange the system of public science and technology organisations, reduce the number of ineffective institutions to match the national socio-economic priorities.
At the same time, it is necessary to enhance the role of universities in the science and technology system to make effective use of this knowledge source and promote the connection between research and training and the demand of businesses and the economy.
You said building research universities is indispensable to improving the quality of science and technology institutions. What is the solution that needs to be focused on to fulfil this?
For universities to truly become centres of scientific research, technology development and knowledge sources for innovation activities, it is necessary to focus on policies to develop strong research groups in various fields in universities, forming and developing research groups led by world-class leading scientists.
The State also needs to increase resources for postgraduate training and adopt policies to facilitate support for graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, considering them as one of the key actors in carrying out research and development activities.
On the other hand, there should be mechanisms and policies to encourage the establishment of organisations to transfer and exploit inventions, science and technology enterprises, and start-up enterprises in higher education institutions.
Currently, the Ministry of Science and Technology is continuing to coordinate with the Ministry of Education and Training in developing a draft decree regulating science and technology activities in higher education.
Many scientific managers and scientists believe that the state management system in science, technology and innovation should be consolidated in focusing on planning, policies and strategic orientations. What do you think?
In my opinion, if we want our science and technology sector to become strong and reach an advanced level by 2030, if we want our country to be in the leading group among high and middle-income countries, if we want our enterprises’ science and technology and innovation capacity to reach the world level, then development is an inevitable need.
To do this, we need to set up a national coordination council for science, technology and innovation to have synchronous and close coordination among agencies in formulating and implementing science, technology and innovation policies.
At the same time, it is necessary to develop and implement training and fostering programmes for science, technology and innovation at all levels.
The content of these programmes needs to be diversified and practical, suitable to the nature of State management, based on reference and updating of the programmes of countries with higher capacity and qualifications in the management of science, technology and innovation. VNS