AN INFORMATION INFRASTRUCTURE FOR FACILITATING THE RUSSIAN PARTICIPATION IN THE EUROPEAN RESEARCH PROGRAMS

V.M.. Mikhov, E.Y. Vershinina
e-mail:
mvm@miet.msk.su e-mail: velen@iopsys.ru

Institute of Operating Systems, Moscow State Institute of Electronic Engineering, Zelenograd, Moscow 103498, Russia

http://www.iopsys.ru/Benefit/Welcome.html

Tel.: 7(095)532-9887, Fax: 7(095)532-0200


ABSTRACT Analysis presented in the paper proves inefficiency of the centralized approach to involving of the Russian scientific potential into the European RTD Programs. Taking into account that the Russian scientific potential is scattered all over the large territory of the country a distributed information infrastructure is proposed. The infrastructure bases on the following main components:
  • regional nodes of the federal telecommunication network;
  • hierarchical approach to information dissemination;
  • network of Regional Contact Points.

Implementing an elaborated concept of a Regional Contact Points is expected to facilitate integration of the Russian scientific potential into the European RTD Programs.



1.INTRODUCTION

The major specificity that distinguishes Russia among other European countries is the enormous territory of the country where the national scientific potential is scattered widely. At the past the majority of the scientific and innovation potential was concentrated around large industrial companies (mostly belong to the defense industry), the leading regional universities and politechnical institutes and Academical Scientific Centers of the Russian Academy of Science which carried out considerable part of basic researches. However, these regional clusters of the scientific potential were closely connected by means of professional links. In this respect the Russian scientific potential formed territorial distributed structure, so-called network of excellence which was controlled by centralize top-down management and funding system.

The centralized financing and management system of the Russian research organizations led to the situation where most of researches were carried out in Central and North-Western Regions. However the network of excellence has changed a lot in the last few years. Increasing in the number of nodes of the network has been caused by the trend for the distribution expressed in reorganizing branch organizations into separate bodies and organizing new ones in the regions on a mass scale. The process results from the fact that most problems of scientific and technological development are defined by the needs of the regions and solved at the local level. The increase in the number of the sources of researches and technological developments distributed over the regions requires special attention and support of their activities. The essential point is a contribution of the conversion research laboratories from the former defense industry that possessing a great scientific potential have penetrated the open market of high-technology developments. The present economic situation in Russia lets SMEs using high technologies production have sprang up all over the country. Their research departments have involved high qualification scientific staff picked up from the state scientific establishments.


2 RUSSIAN PARTICIPATION IN THE EUROPEAN RTD PROGRAMS

One of the ways to integrate let say the powerful Russian scientific and innovation potential into the European scientific community is to involve Russian research teams into the European Research Programs. To achieve the goal a number of obstacles should be overcome such as lack of information, lack of communications, differences in environments and approaches, etc. The task of overcoming these obstacles is comprised within a complex activity called organization of the national participation in European RTD Programs. As the pan-European experience has shown the efficiency of such activity is the first criterion for the success of the national representation in the projects accepted by the Commission. Distinctive features of the activity in Russia nowadays are listed bellow:

As a result the Russian participation, for instance, in the program Copernicus'94 in the field of Information Technologies (IT) was limited by 12th participants. Regional research organizations of the Russian Federation were practically not represented among the Russian participants. Active participation of the research institutes of the Siberian region branch of RAS was provided by the traditional direct links of the Russian Academy of Science with the world scientific community in the field of the basic researches. Thus, there is a situation where geographical limits of the Russian participants are defined by Central and North-Western region but enormous scientific and innovation potential of the rest of the regions of Russia has not involved yet. The centralized system was not elaborated properly enough to take into account capabilities of the regions and special approach they required.


3. CONCEPT OF A NETWORK OF REGIONAL CONTACT POINTS

Involving the scientific and innovation potential of the regions on a full scale requires more informing about the European RTD Programs: their principals, objectives and contents. The requirements to access to the adequate information and to understand one's own place in the information space lead to creation of the principally new structure that is distributed infrastructure of Regional Contact Points (RCP). Russian network of excellence should be integrated with the RCP infrastructure that will enable to concentrate information resources, efforts and investments on facilitating participation Russian researchers in European RTD Programs. First of all by the distributed infrastructure is meant communication network and information infrastructure in Russia. Owing to it these Contact Points will manage to get to end-users in the regions and provide them with information and support.

Without any doubt to create the base infrastructure the enormous working and financial investments would be required.. Nowadays development of informatization of the Russian society has gone to the new stage that is defined both by large investment from the State budget for creating Federal telecommunication infrastructure partly by using former military space systems (project RUNNet) and by Federal Program of informatization of the Russian regions. This is the first time when financial support of the Federal Program on creation og the integrated information space in Russia is also provided from regional financial resources. Thus, the Regional Centres of Informatization of (RCI) and nodes of the telecommunication network RUNNet is the very infrastructure that RCP is planed to base on.

The backbone of the RUNNet network has appeared as a result of the first stage of the national project aimed to creating integrated information space of science, education and culture [1,2]. At present state of the project RUNNet provides backbone connectivity between all Russian economic regions and it can be also used as a base infrastructure for Regional Contact Points network. According to the technical requirements of the project the RUNNet nodes have been already located in the central cities of the following regions integrating their network segments: Central (Moscow, Nizhniy Novgorod), North-Western (St.Petersburg), Northern (Petrozavodsk), Central-Chernozem (Tambov), North-Caucasus (Rostov-upon-Don), Volga (Ulyanovsk, Saratov), Urals (Ekaterinburg), West-Siberian (Novosibirsk, Tomsk), East-Siberian (Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk), Far-Eastern (Khabarovsk, Vladivostok). On the other hand having connectivity to the international service providers and being a member of the Internet RUNNet that provides integration to the world scientific community. At the next stage of the project there are two directions of the work planned. The first one aims to penetrating deep inside the regions by developing regional networks. In turn the second direction comprises a work on developing information resources for the RUNNet federal nodes.

Regional Centres of Informatization form the network of organizations directed to scientific researches in the field of region informatization and are intended to accumulate financial and intellectual resources both from central sources and from sources of the regions to solve the tasks of informatization at the regional level. The RCI's are based on the leading universities of the regions that facilitates their official registration and operating. It is necessary to add that such RCI have been already created in such centres of the Russian science and culture as Central region (Moscow, Nizhniy Novgorod, Vladimir, Ivanovo), Central-Chernozem region(Tambov, Voronezh), Altai (Barnaul), Northern region(Petrozavodsk), East-Siberian (Krasnoyarsk). Thus, using the integrated infrastructure of RUNNet network and RCIs network may provide the best support of RCP activities.


4. CONCEPT OF INFORMATION DISSEMINATION

Additionally to the distributed infrastructure there is also another general principle that must be taken in mind to make the organizational work RCP carries out to get the final goal. Using the integrated infrastructure of RUNNet and RCI projects enables to deliver the information to the end-users. That would activate end-users on each level of hierarchical organizational structure of a research institute, a university, a SME, a state authority and so on and would stimulate their activity towards carrying out those tasks within their competence that would step by step form the way to a Pan-European project. But to get full advantages from opportune information the key question is in what way should the information be presented. The information must be interpreted and disseminated to be within the scope of the professional interest of the certain end-user aiming to the concrete tasks that one has to solve, i.e. information must be differentiated according to the role one plays in the organization, in other words, according to his position at the scale of ranks and connected obligations. To make this differentiation we have defined three groups having gone from a far distant top level to a far distant low level of the scale of ranks:

Depending on to what group of these an end-user can be reckoned the information one actually needs might be defined. For instance, for the first group a special newsletters (at least every week) should be published in both languages (Russian and English) and distributed through or e-mail or presented on network servers. It should contain an adopted information from EC Information Services, articles from newsletters of the current networking projects, calendar of events, guide of EC and NCPs WWW-servers.

For the second group in addition to the general network-based information supply joint efforts should be concentrated on presentation of RTD relevant organizations and companies on the WWW-servers of NCPs and networking projects, on searching for partners infomation and RTD and Who-is-Who databases

For the third one the most important information is summaried on the current activities and projects supported by the European Commission, new coming Calls for Proposals, searching for partners, information packages and list of recommendations and comments how to execute the forms.


5. REGIONAL CONTACT POINTS

More detailed concept of building distributed network of Contact Points needs more investigations involving efforts of national coordinators and region representatives of the projects RUNNet and RCI and will be developed as a first stage of the International Interuniversities Program "Stimulating a Participation of the Russian Universities in European R&D Programs" which has been launched by the State Committee of the Russian Federation on Higher Education. The present concept of a Regional Contact Point was elaborated on the base of the experience Institute of Operating Systems possesses in participating in the European RTD Programs and observing and analyzing the today's situation with organizing participation of the Russian scientific groups in pan-European projects. This concept describes the first stage of development of the whole RCP's network - creating its first node and elaborating the model of Regional Contact Points on it.

There are four main tasks that the Regional Contact Point is intended to solve.

1. Information dissemination:

2. Organization of the national participation in the European RTD Programs:

3. Advisory service:

4. National and international interactions:

To execute the tasks listed above in the most effective way RCP should build its work using advanced information technologies. Within the activity of information dissemination e-mail is intended to be the basic network service as the most distributed tools among the Russian scientific community. However, for those who have access to the Internet the information related will be represented on WWW-servers both on the local and on the regions ones.

High professional scientists and researchers will be identified at the leading Russian universities and research establishments in every scientific scope to carry out an expert evaluation for the proposals given by Russian researchers for participation in the European RTD Programs. Besides interactions with RCI network inside Russia the Regional Contact Point will establish close contacts with the Commission and National Contact Points of Central and Western Europe.

To elaborate the general strategy for RCP high qualified experts of economics and technical departments from the technical university located in Zelenograd are involved. Besides personnel for the Department for International Cooperations of the Institute of Operating Systems some specialists that have had an experience of the work with different Russian and international funds are picked up.

The idea of creating the Regional Contact Point have already got the legal support at the regional level and in the State Committee of the Russian Federation for Higher Education. The first Regional Contact Point is going to be set up in Moscow, Zelenograd (ZRCP) that is the Russian Silicon Valley. The choice is not casual because there are a lot of large industrial companies and SMEs research labs at the technical university and one of the leading Russian technoparks. The scope of the RCP activity is going to be limited only by three European Programs: Information Technology Program (ESPRIT), Advanced Communication Technologeis (ACTS) and Programs on International Cooperation (INCO-Copernicus). ZRCP is going to be organized on the base of Institute of Operating Systems infrastructure.


6. BENEFIT CONTACT POINT

At present the Regional Contact Point which we are talking about has already passed the initial modeling stage. The basis for that has been formed by the Russian Contact Point of the Pan-european network project Benefit (CP94-536). Taking into account the elaborated concept of information dissemination in Russia (BCP) intends to solve the following tasks:

Despite that it was established in May,1996 BCP has already present some remarkable results that demonstrate its activity.

The first result of the BCP activities in Russia was a considerable number of the Russian participants scientists at the workshop "Design Methodologies for Microelectronics" in Slovakia last year and students at the summer school "Standards in Design Automation of the Electronic Systems" in Prague this year. Taking in to account the importance of the integration an intellectual potential of Russia into Pan-European RTD programs we expect support from the European Commission and NCPs in EU countries in creation of the Regional Contact Points network and promotion of their further activities. The BCP has its own Homepage on the IOS WWW-server: http://www.iopsys.ru/Benefit/Welcome.html


References

[1] RUNNet - Federal University Network of Russia, NATO Workshop, Golitzino, 1994.

[2] RUNNet - Federal University Network of Russia, Joint European Networking Conference. JENCG, Tel Aviv, 1995.


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