Attracting Leading Scientists to Russian Universities and Research Institutions
Decree No. 220 on “Measures to Attract Leading Scientists to Russian Educational and Institutions of Academies of Science, and State Scientific Centers of the Russian Federation” (Megagrants).
Programme funds were available through a competitive grant process. The first call of proposals to participate in the contest was held in June, 2010. 507 applications were received from researchers and 179 universities. The proposals evaluation has been accomplished by 971 independent experts (335 Russian and 636 international) through the panels by priority scientific fields. On 29 September, 2010 the Grants Council of the Government of the Russian Federation has identified the names of 40 researchers, who have won the open public contest. The majority of the winners is represented by Russians (20), Germans (7) and US-citizens (10).
The winners of the second call 2011 are 39 researchers, among them are 19 Russians (including 13 double citizenships), 10 US-citizens, 6 French and 4 Germans. 517 applications were received from researchers with 176 Russian universities.
Grant stipends were offered in amounts of up to RUB 150 million for each research project in 2010-2012 and 2011-2013, with opportunities to extend the research period for 1-2 years. Calculation and specification of science grants was determined by the host institutions where successful applicants were planned to research. The call for proposals is open, with any Russian university and research institution eligible to apply through a joint proposal with the scientist applicant. Scientists of all nationalities and countries of residence are eligible to apply.
Research projects are implemented by university or research institution teams under the supervision of leading scientists in the following research areas determined by the Grants Council of the Government of the Russian Federation for support of research activities implemented under the supervision of leading scientists at Russian universities or research institutions (hereinafter referred to as “Grants Council”): astronomy and astrophysics, nuclear power and nuclear technologies, biology, biotechnologies, information technologies and computing systems, space research and technologies, mathematics, engineering, health sciences and technologies, mechanics and management processes, nanotechnologies, Earth sciences, material sciences and technologies, psychology, cognitive research, construction and architecture, physics, chemistry, ecology, economics, international research, sociology, power production, energy efficiency and energy saving.
Scientists are free in determining their research area, limited only by the general guidelines set by the Council. The number of projects undertaken by each institution is unlimited, but only one research project is allowed per applying scientist.
Upon approval of project funding, scientists collect their research team, composed of students and employees of the host institution. Each research team should consist of no fewer than two PhD candidates, three graduate students, and three undergraduate students. Salaries and compensation for the visiting scientist and members of the research team can not exceed 60% of the total grant allotment. All requirements to project proposals are subject to special agreements between visiting scientists and their host institutions. In accordance with that agreement, visiting scientists will assume responsibility for organizing and managing their work.
In 2010-2015 160 international laboratories were established at 79 Russian universities and research organisations in 27 fields of science, headed by leading scientists from around the world. Among the leading scientists involved are three Nobel Prize laureates and a Fields laureate. The total amount of grant payments in 2010–2015 was 17.36 billion rubles. In 2016-2019, the amount of funding for these purposes is provided in the amount of 2.31 billion rubles per year, in 2020 - 2.1 billion rubles. As of 2015, 5082 employees conducted research in laboratories, of which 2929 people were students, graduate students and PhD. After the termination of funding, 11% of laboratories closed. By 2016, 88 laboratories have been financed, of which 78 continue to operate. Three foreign heads of the laboratories moved to Russia for permanent residence.
During the contests of megagrants, criteria for applications evaluatoin was improved. Foreign experts were involved in the evaluation of applications (60.8% Russian and 39.2% were foreign experts).
In 2017 358 leading researchers from 41 countries jointly with more than 170 Russian research organisations and universities (280 applications were submitted by universities, 78 - by research organisations) participated in the competition. 35 researchers - citizens of 12 countries, including USA, France, Italy, Germany, India, Israel, Russia, etc. won the competition and obtained megagrants for research at 28 Russian universities and research institutions.
In 2017 the number of international laboratories established in Russia reached 200. Leading scientists from 45 countries of the world, including the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, India, France, and other are among the megagrants winners. 104 foreign and 96 Russian scientists, of which 69 live abroad are among mega-grants winners.
Grants of the Government of the Russian Federation are allocated in the amount of up to 90 million rubles each for research in 2019-2021.
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