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Regular version of the site

To Support Science

Boris Saltykov, Head of the HSE Department of Science and Innovation Management, has been awarded the title of docteur honoris causa at the University of Franche-Comté in Besançon (France).

— Dr. Saltykov, firstly, please accept our congratulations. How surprising was this awarding for you? What ties you with France and particularly with the University of Franche-Comté where you were awarded the title of  docteur honoris causa  on September 7th?

— Our department studies science and innovations, and several years ago we started working with the University of Franche-Comté in Besançon in this sphere, and particularly with the Technology Transfer Centre. I met Professor Raymond Besson there – a very interesting person who has worked in many countries including Latin America, USA, China, and who, in the last eight years,has been focusing on Russia. Suffice to say, despite being over 60, he has learned Russian and can speak it well. Last autumn Professor Besson came to the Higher School of Economics, we discussed the general problems of technology transfer with him, and this spring I found out that he had suggested me as a candidate for honoris causa to the committee. For me this, of course, was a complete surprise. I think what played a big role here is Raymond Besson’s warm attitude towards our country: he has been here many times, even to far flung cities which I haven’t had a chance to visit yet. And those were not tourist trips, they were research ones related to the problem of technology advancement. In terms of this he has a clear position: scientific achievements are nothing if they are limited only to publications. They need tangible results And he really wants something innovative to be produced in Russia. Here my wishes and efforts are in line with his.

— The docteur honoris causa title at the University of Franche-Comté this year has been assigned to three researchers, and I believe you found yourself in very good company…

— This is true, while honestly speaking, I have not considered myself a researcher for a long time, I’m more an administrator.  Along with me, two Nobel laureates in medicine were also honoured: Harald zur Hausen who has been studying cancer for a long time, and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, one of the first AIDS researchers. Of course, I was distinguished not for my research papers, but for the work related to Russian science and the whole R&D sector reform which I carried out as Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Science in the early 1990s. In particular, during that turbulent period we managed to create two state foundations for science support: the Russian Fundamental Research Fund (RFFI) and the Russian Humanitarian Research Fund (RGNF). In addition to that, the Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises in Science and Technology (FASIE) was formed, or, as it is more often called, the Bortnik Foundation – after its Director, Ivan Bortnik. All those achievements were mentioned by Raymond Besson who introduced me at the ceremony.

Harald zur Hausen, Boris Saltykov and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi
Harald zur Hausen, Boris Saltykov and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi
— What was your speech at the ceremony about?

— I gave some details on my activities as minister and the problems we faced during the reforms of the Soviet system of science support. In our country the university sector was very weak: the majority of researchers worked in industrial science, and most of the state investment also went there. And three quarters of this money was for military developments of one kind or another. Science should be managed on totally different principles: and this was one of the tasks of the reforms we carried out in 1992-1996.

— Will you continue working with the University of Franche-Comté?

— The Higher School of Economics attracts foreign professors for lecture courses, and our department is also involved in this practice. I believe that this form of cooperation is very productive, especially for our students who get an opportunity not just to hear lectures by good researchers, but to understand the language of modern international science.

Oleg Seregin, HSE News Service

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