Setting big amounts to maintain the activity of persons engaged in near-customs business, has already led to forcing out from the market of small and middle-size companies which cannot guarantee their responsibilities before the customs authorities. At the same time, danger is great for monopolization of the market of brokerage service by tenths of large broker's firms. This may lead to emerging monopoly prices of brokerage services, strengthening corruption trends in this area, an increase of trade operators’ costs, and will cause rise in prices of imported consumer goods, making for the development of inflation in the country. Similar situation is observed in the market of customs carriers and in the sphere of storage services.
All the above indicates that the first months of work in conditions of the new Customs Code of the RF have already revealed a number of problems, for solving of which it is required to make amendments to the normative documents of the Federal Customs Service of the RF, and in individual cases, – correcting legal provisions contained in the, Customs Code of the RF.
The new draft law “On Introducing Changes in the Law “On the Customs”, regulating such areas as customs value and customs collections, adopted by the State Duma of the RF in the first reading, is not yet comply in full with the norms of WTO and interests of development of the foreign trade of Russia.
All that testifies that the development of the legal base of the customs regulation has not yet been finalized.
New forms of state support of innovation activities This review focuses on an analysis of the new forms of the state support of innovation activities – public private partnerships, the Programs of assistance to creation of small innovation enterprises (START program) and the introduction of domestic research and development projects in industry (TEMP program), as well as development of technology promotion centers. Below, there will be reviewed the aims, targets, and major problems of implementation of each initiative, including the problems related to the recent changes in the regulatory and legislative framework of scientific and innovation activities.
In December of 2004, the RF Government approved the Strategy of the Russian Federation in the area of development of science and innovations till year 2010 elaborated by the Ministry of Education and Science. Among the key aims of the Strategy is the improvement of performance in the sector of research and development and development of the innovation infrastructure. At the same time, among the priorities are such more specific targets as the development of the institutions engaged in the use and protection of intellectual property and creation of “technological corridors”.
One of the mechanisms creating incentives for the formation of technological corridors are public private partnerships (PPP) – a new instrument, which Russia only starts to master. In this connection, in December there was held a joint meeting of representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in the course of which experts presented their proposals with respect to the implementation of the mechanism of public private partnerships in Russia.
The term “public private partnership” is defined as the use by the state of the mechanisms creating incentives for participation of private businesses in innovation activities. PPP permit to pool resources, share profits and risks, they facilitate creation of competitive environment and simultaneously urge a more efficient use of budget funds.
The practical experience of the use of public private partnerships in a number of West European countries demonstrates that this mechanism is used in the areas where the state and private businesses have similar interests, but can not act independently of each other. As concerns the sphere of science, technology, and innovation, the most common forms of PPP there are the creation of joint research centers in the areas traditionally controlled by the state (health care, protection of environment, defense); co-financing of research and development projects at the pre-competition stages, and joint participation in the support of such projects at the early stages of commercialization.
At present, practically the only type of PPP existing in Russia is megaprojects17. Megaprojects are large innovation projects carried out by joint collectives of scientists and industrialists. Megaprojects are based on the idea of sharing the risks associated with the development of new technologies between the state and business. At present, there are financed 12 megaprojects. However, today expert are careful about megaprojects in their present form. First, in the course of selection of such projects there could not be avoided lobbying, and, second, there is the question about the eligibility of the projects receiving budget financing.
For details see: Dezhina I., Saltykov B. Mekhanizmy stimulirovaniya kommertsializatsii issledovaniy i razrabotok. Nauchnye Trudy No. 72 – R. M.: IET, 2004, pp. 107 – 108.
The foreign experience demonstrates that the state allocates funds for applied R & D projects carried out in the framework of PPP taking into account the subjects of such projects. The projects selected for financing should answer national priorities or have a high potential of public benefit. At the same time, at the moment of implementation of such projects the private sector might not be aware of the potential profits. As concerns the Russian experience of selection of megaprojects, the area of research and its significance for the public were of no serious importance. The preliminary outcomes of implementation of megaprojects may be evaluated already in the beginning of 2005.
Alongside with megaprojects, it is possible that there will develop yet another form of cooperation among scientific organizations, small businesses, and industry. This form of cooperation will be implemented in the framework of a new Program of the Fund of assistance to the development of small innovation enterprises in the scientific and technological sphere (the Fund of Assistance), which was announced in the middle of November. At present, the program should be implemented in the experimental regime. The essence of the program is to create incentives for innovation activities in industry and at the same time facilitate the development of ties between small enterprises and large and medium sized businesses. The Fund intends to assist small businesses as concerns free financing of R & D projects, which should be developed after the purchase of the licenses from scientific organizations, higher education institutions, or individuals. Therefore, the Fund is going to finance R & D work, which the licensee (primarily) and the licensor should carry out in order to implement the license. At the same time, the Fund is ready to review the applications for participation in the projects on the part of medium and large enterprises in the case such enterprises organize their work with participation of a small enterprise or provide production capacities for organization of manufacturing of the goods on the license terms. Two options are available on the whole: either the license is purchased and implemented by a small enterprise independently, or the license is purchased and implemented jointly by a small and a large (medium) enterprise. In such cases, the small enterprise implements R & D project, develops the technology, and probably manufactures the first test series of the product.
It is expected that implementation of the TEMP program will permit to reorient enterprises from purchase of equipment abroad to the purchase of the results of domestic R & D projects. At the same time, the Fund expressed its interest in assistance in commercialization of the rights for the intellectual property created at the expense of the financing from the federal budget, what presents the key problem. Since the legislative framework in this sphere is underdeveloped, it is unclear who should be the owner of intellectual property created at the expense of budget funds. In January of 2004, there was approved the draft resolution “On the procedures governing the disposal of the rights for the results of scientific and technological activities obtained at the expense of the federal budget.” The draft resolution contains a proposal according to which “the rights for the results of scientific and technological activities obtained by organizations at the expense of the federal budget granted in the form of subsidies, subventions, grants, and material support should be vested with the organization. The condition of allocation of the said funds should be the granting to the Russian Federation of the free right to use these results on the non-commercial basis for the purposes of carrying out the works or supply of products for the federal state needs.” However, this year the resolution was not approved due to the disagreements among different executive authorities. Therefore, the enterprises intending to purchase licenses in the framework of the TEMP program may face serious difficulties.
It should be also noted that large enterprises should be included in the program with care, since there is possible a situation, where the state in the person of the Fund of Assistance could finance the expenditures the enterprise should have finance from its own funds in the case it were really interested in the purchase of the license. There is a high risk that the sate will carry out the functions of the private business.
The Fund of Assistance supports small innovative businesses also in the framework of the START program, in the framework of which first 400 projects18 of creation of small innovation enterprises were approved by the end of this year. The amount of the funding totaled to Rub. 375 million. The contest was about 7 to 1. In one year after the start of implementation of the projects, the participants should present investors ready to co-finance the R & D projects at the newly created small enterprises.
For the description of the START program see: Rossiyskaya ekonomika v 2003 godu. Tendentsii i perspektivy. Issue 25. M.: IET, 2004, pp. 269 – 270.
It is estimated that the real results of this program should be the creation and development of a small business, which by the end of the third year would have 3 to 20 employees. At the same time, the amount of sales of the innovative products at such a firm should make not less than Rub. 600 thousand per employee a year.
The START program brought about mixed reactions in the scientific community. Thus, the management of a number of RAS institutions and universities views it as a way to destroy scientific organizations, whose employees might leave them for small innovation businesses. The opponents argue that it should be allowed to work part time at R & D institutes or higher education establishment and small businesses. These arguments are rather the evidence of the lack of viability of the institutes if they may be seriously affected by a few employees leaving their jobs. In other countries, in the course of implementation of such programs it is required that employees either left their jobs altogether, or worked at small enterprises for fixed terms (usually 2 to 3 years).
The START program may become an efficient partner of another initiative implemented both at the expense of the federal budget and regional sources. This program is aimed at the formation of Technology Promotion Centers (TPC) in Russia. All in all, at present there are organized about 20 TPC including 9 TPC with state participation. The centers are primarily created at universities and academic scientific organizations.
The majority of centers exist for just about a year. The most common problems faced by practically all TPC in the period of their fledging were the following. First, the scientists are not ready for commercialization of their projects; often they do not want to engage in such operations at all. Another extreme position is the wish to stand on one’s own bottom, while the TPC assistance is reduced to the provision of additional financing. Second, the majority of R & D projects are not ready for commercial use: as a rule, TPC create models and not ready products. Third, there are problems of legislative framework, especially as concerns the regulation of relations between the employer and employee on the basis of contracts. As a result, organizations have no information about the R & D projects developed by their employees. Yet another significant gap in the legislation is the issue of the regulation of the intellectual property rights. At last, fourth, there is the problem of the lack of information about the R & D projects developed at different organizations. Thus, according to the data presented by the Ministry of Education and Science, only 2 per cent to 3 per cent of universities can present calculations with respect to the competitive capacity of their R & D projects, what permits to evaluate the commercial potential of the university.
At present, TPC are at the stage of revision of the R & D projects of the institutions, at which they were created, or those implemented in their respective regions. The study of corporate markets progresses less intensively, partly due to the fact that TPC managers lack necessary experience. The share of commercial services is below 5 per cent of the total amount of works carried out by TPC, while the centers have not as yet had such revenue item as licensing. The major sources of TPC budgets are the funds provided from the state budget, the assistance on the part of “mother” institutes or regions, and grants. At present it is too early to asses the efficiency of operations of the created TPC; however, the Ministry of Education and Science took the decision to finance the creation of 10 additional centers.
The usual practice of TPC support is that the state finances such centers for 7 to 8 years, and after this period these structures should become self supporting units.
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