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Scientific and Technological Development and Digital Transformation of the Economy and Society

For HSE University, digitalization and technological development is a capstone research area where it aims at capitalizing its academic achievements and further widen its research expertise. In addition, research on science, technology and innovation (STI) will be further developed as an independent subject area. HSE University is one of the key platforms in Russia for academic discussions of the knowledge economy, scientific and technological forecasting, new data mining methods, and evidence-based STI policy, for which it has established strong reputation in the international academic community. A major focus of STI studies will be on the proactive role of STI in social and economic transformations. Instead of traditional classical development studies pointing to linear scientific and technological progress, the University will continue to rely on comprehensive approaches to the analysis of network interactions between multiple actors in a broader setting (the effectiveness of institutions, competition regimes, attitudes to science and technology in society, etc.) At the same time, the inherent STI complexity poses challenges in terms of both academic research and governance system. The latter must be capable of developing an effective evidence-based policy that would effectively channel the scientific and technological potential to address the key objectives and global challenges facing the economy and society.

In order to respond to these challenges, the University will not only cultivate its expertise in the theory and methodology of STI studies but also take an active part in the development and assessment of STI policies. Digitalization is becoming a recurring motif for most research areas developed at HSE University; in social and economic sciences, it is an important theme for studies of social challenges and institutions of human capital development. The University is home to new innovative centres of excellence working at the intersection of traditional approaches and disciplines. It is also involved in cultivating multiple areas of digital transformation research that are largely new to Russia, including such topics as measuring digitalization processes in relation to economy and society, professions and competencies in the digital age, digital inequality, the impact of digitalization on socio-economic development and transformation of economic sectors, regions, cities, and companies.

Most Important Subject Areas within This Research Area  

In the near future, priority will be given to full-cycle research projects in the field of STI, spanning the development of methodology, data collection and related policy recommendations. The list of project topics will include:

  • refining methods for measuring STI and digitalization (including Big Data and alternative indicators), which will serve as a basis for making managerial decisions;
  • the behaviour of actors involved in STI processes (strategies, network interactions, and institutions);
  • long-term forecasting, modelling, foresight research in relation to STI;
  • evidence-based transformational policies: STI policies, industrial policies, and cluster policies;
  • research on digital transformations in the economy and society.

HSE University will also focus on interdisciplinary areas with high academic potential, which will open doors for more active involvement of foreign professors and PhD students in research, as well as help consolidate its positions in the global academic community. Some of the most important interdisciplinary areas will include:

  • Big Data for Socio-Technological Systems Studies: measuring socio-economic and scientific and technological processes using new methods and data sources, developing and piloting new indicators, utilizing traditional statistics and alternative indicators for making managerial decisions;
  • Creative Economy Studies: comprehensive research in the field of statistics, policy-making, and foresight with respect to creative industries. The University still has a good chance to secure a leading position in this relatively new research area for Russia;
  • Studies in Digital Transformation for Economy and Society: studies on the digital transformation strategies for companies; digitalization processes in various sectors of economy; a society's readiness for digital future, including the demand for digital technology, its infiltration into the daily lives of households and possible uses, community involvement in the digital environment; the demand for digital competencies and skills; the implications of the digital technology uptake for the labour market;
  • Futures Studies: analyzing global socio-economic and technological trends and processes; developing new forecasting methods; modelling the impact of STI on the socio-economic development;
  • User Studies: studies and further development of approaches to analyzing the role of users (including individuals and organizations) in the development and application of technologies, and diffusion of innovations; development of databases based on the results of empirical surveys and specialized monitoring studies; preparation of research and business cases illustrating the best user experience practices; 
  • Policy Design and Evaluation in the Context of Technological Uncertainty: research, development and pilot testing of approaches to the assessment of policies in science, technology, innovation, and digitalization; development of empirical databases for policy assessment; evidence-based design for new policy measures.

A wide-ranging research agenda will allow the University to take a more active part in international research projects, including comparative projects and ones aimed at synthesizing country-specific experiences. STI research projects involving multiple partner countries are traditionally popular as they open new opportunities for making comparisons and monitoring the effects of framework conditions and national specifics. In this area, HSE University will make a special emphasis on producing a full-scale series of research papers based on interdisciplinarity and comprehensive and systematic approach. There is also a plan to stimulate research publications of the University's staff in interdisciplinary journals at the confluence of digitalization, social sciences, STI, economics, and management. The University will also work to promote its own journals in the field of foresight. 

All research, educational and applied projects in this area will be brought in line with the national objectives related to scientific and technological development and digitalization of the Russian economy (in accordance with the Presidential Decree No. 204 dated May 7, 2018) and improving the quality of governance in this area.

Contributions to the Advancement of Education

R&D in this research area will help meet the growing demand for qualified managers and experts in the field of STI both in the traditional sectors of the economy, as well as in knowledge-intensive and creative industries. In the context of technological uncertainty and multi-layered challenges, a special focus will be made on forming a systematic view of STI processes, boosting management and public administration skills in this area, as well as on training STI proponents capable of working in various institutional environments, including the business sector (large, small and medium-sized companies), academia, public sector, and international organizations.

The following specialized educational programmes featuring interdisciplinary agenda will be developed:

Master's level:

  • English-taught Master's programme "Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation": new multidisciplinary courses in English will be introduced;
  • Master's programme "Management of Research, Development and Innovation in a Company" (Department of Innovation Management);
  • HSE University will also consider the possibility of launching new Master's programmes in the key research areas covered by the University’s centres of excellence;

Continuing education programmes in the following formats:

network-based international programmes in conjunction with partner universities (Technical University of Berlin, University of Manchester, Seoul National University, etc.);

  • strategy sessions for Russian regions;
  • seminars and training sessions for representatives of state authorities, universities, research organizations and companies;
  • module-based thematic programmes for different target groups.

Response to the Challenges of Socio-economic Development, Applied R&D

The University's key competitive advantage on a national scale is the comprehensive integration of basic research findings, practice-oriented projects and educational operations.  For instance, the most essential research topics and results can easily find their way to educational courses at the Master's level, as well as continuing education programmes and training sessions. HSE University’s research teams have an opportunity to bring together specialists in different fields possessing the necessary competencies, and students can be actively engaged in research projects (internships, term paper and thesis topics aligned with real ongoing research projects).

HSE University will develop a series of fundamentally new applied analytical and IT products, including:

  • the methodology for monitoring and measuring the digital economy (across industries and regions) and the level of technological development of specific industries;
  • models for predicting scientific and technological development and digitalization of the economy;
  • technological roadmaps for specific industries and markets;
  • recommendations for designing new tools for the STI policy;
  • compendia of best practices in management and policy-making in the field of scientific, technological and digital development;
  • drafts of methodology materials, strategies, innovative development/digital transformation programmes for companies, regions, industries, and clusters;
  • specialized information and analytical systems to support managerial decision-making in the field of scientific, technological and digital development;
  • collective analytical services based on the iFORA, a Big Data intelligent analysis system.

The University plans to expand cooperation in the field of basic and applied research and education with a wide range of partners and clients, including federal and regional executive authorities, development institutions, Russian and foreign companies, research institutions, universities, and international organizations (OECD, Eurostat, UNESCO, International Telecommunication Union, UNIDO, etc.) HSE University's unique empirical databases that are instrumental for the development of evidence-based policy will be further expanded, along with the advanced research infrastructure for Big Data analysis (based on iFORA).