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2021-07-05 10:39

Dr. Sc. Nghiem Vu Khai: A conducive environment is a must to enble science research

Science and technology development and innovation are one of the strategic breakthroughs emphasized in many strategic policies of the country. Great opportunities avail and great deals of challenges are ahead in the new period. What are the new points in the policy and mechanism on science and technology to pave the way for development? How effective is the application of science and technology in practice?

The reporter had an exchange with Dr. Sc. Nghiem Vu Khai - Member of the 14th National Assembly; former Deputy Minister of Science and Technology; Former Vice President of Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations. (Dr. Sc. Nghiem Vu Khai)

Dr. Sc. Nghiem Vu Khai

How do you assess the state management in science and technology activities during the past time, especially what was the State’s role in creating a favorable environment for research and innovation of our country?

Dr. Sc. Nghiem Vu Khai: The Party and State as well as the entire society focus on investing in the field of science and technology vigorously, the strongest innovation is the mechanisms and laws to promote the development of science and technology. For example, in recent time, it has been the ordering and contracting mechanism to the final product, the fostering mechanism for talents, especially excellent ones, and appointing them to an important post, I think our policy has mentioned quite comprehensively, but there are differences from the law to practice and it has not been really effective. Even the Government’s directive instruments clearly show that many correct policies on scientific and technological development have been slowly implemented, institutionalized, and slowly come to life.

What has caused the policy mechanisms to have a certain lag compared to the requirements of real life at present time and how can we remedy such lag as well as possible in the future? There is a story that after promulgating the law, the Government’s decrees must be issued, and the ministries and agencies shall issue circulars. Even that story causes lag for a few years, and the provisions of the Law itself are decided by the National Assembly - the highest State competent agency, there are areas that the Government has not yet had the authority to guide or explain, so the law also creates difficulties. The lack of synchronization in State management, for example, between the Ministry of industry management is the Ministry of Science and Technology, between the Ministry of Investment Resource Management is the Ministry of Planning and Investment, or the cash flow management is the Ministry of Finance, will have certain different levels and sometimes, because of unworthy difference, it is lagged for year. In the coming time, one of the breakthroughs is that the institutional and legal issues have to be done carefully to bring life into law and from there the law comes to life.

All scientific and technological policies have determined that business must play a central role in the national innovation system. So now, what mechanisms do we have to promote the establishment of science and technology enterprises, as well as to promote businesses to be able to establish research institutes on their own from which to invest more for science and technology?

Dr. Sc. Nghiem Vu Khai: In our country, there are still some inadequacies such as: Most of our country’s enterprises are of small and micro size, there is a few of large enterprises, during the 35-year development process after the renovation period, the enterprises mainly base on the application of preferred policies, preferred use of resources that makes them rich, but they have not really relied on science and technology to develop. Recently, the Prime Minister mentions that the excess of fiscal year, the excess of resources, and the excess of cheap labor have been no longer available, so now we have to rely on science and technology for development. 

Currently, some large employers have realized that only relying on science and technology, they can develop sustainably in the fiercely competitive world. Thanks to such awareness, the enterprises will be more active in investment and in fact they have formed centers to attract domestic and foreign scientists, especially Vietnamese eminent scientists, to return for the enterprises' development…

The business community have had mechanisms to attract and employ talented workers. For scientific and technological policies, especially from now with orientation to 2030, what mechanisms do we have to attract such high-quality human resources to contribute to the country?

Dr. Sc. Nghiem Vu Khai: In my opinion, human resources of science and technology or excellent people are not only creative researchers in the field of science and technology, but also people working in the field of economic science, science on development, planning, market, production, so the human resources in science and technology are very large, including those who manage science and technology, they are also extremely important forces; presently, it is said that the ones owning excellent talents are those have a sharp weapon in the global competition. Therefore, in my opinion, our policy towards scientists is very good in principle, but in practice, the implementation has not met the requirements. We must understand more intellectually. Firstly, working in scientific field, if they want to make devotion, they must have an environment to make creations and inventions that contribute to science and technology. Secondly, they must be respected. Although they personally don't care much about the wealth, they need to be evaluated and honored by society. Thirdly, it is the treating mechanism so that they can keep their minds on their creative works. I think the most valuable asset we have had today in the field of science and technology is human resources.

In order for us to have a policy to attract good human resources, the policy makers themselves must understand the psychology as well as have a progressive attitude and respect the intelligentsia. Thereby, we are able to shape the policies that are really close to scientists, especially high-quality human resources. The scientific and technological leaders, whether they are ministers or science and technology directors or a certain position, we must get involved and enable the conducive conditions for the scientists' benefits. It is good point that the resolution of the 13th Party Congress, especially the strategy of science and technology development, mentions the phrase of science, technology and innovation for nearly 40 times. Never before has the Party's document contained such provisions about science, technology and innovation as the documents of the 13th Resolution, that opens up hope and happiness, the intelligentsia do not only long for those policies, but also to actualize the policies of the Party and the State together with the State management agencies.

Although there have been great advances, the experts have frankly said that the current development of science and technology in our country is not commensurate with its potential. In the national program of science and technology from now to 2030, how shall we continue to innovate our thinking as well as mechanisms and policies on science and technology, Yours Exellency?

Dr. Sc. Nghiem Vu Khai: To date, there have been yet any program or major national program to create a national scientific and technological position in comparison with the region and the world. In early 2021, the Prime Minister issued Decision No. 130 on the national program for high-tech development. I hope that in the coming time, the Committee on Science, Technology and Environment of the National Assembly must support this, the agencies must create a special program for the scientific and technological circle that is prescribed by the National Assembly. At that time, we must have a great investment to attain great achievements with important results. To promote the country's long-term science and technology, in my opinion, it is necessary to create an environment for science and technology activities, not only for scientists or technologists but also for businesses and managers of science and technology, giving our people a respective spirit of science and always supporting innovation and creativity.

We have often heard about a situation in scientific research for a long time that our research projects spend a lot of money invested by the state, but after being accepted, such research projects are still stored in the drawer without being executed in practice, so in the future, what are our mechanisms to best evaluate the application level as well as the commercialization level of these scientific research projects to connect scientific research to reality?

Dr. Sc. Nghiem Vu Khai: In order to invest in science and technology effectively, if the order is from the state budget, it shall be the state management agency, if it is an enterprise, it shall be the business owner. They must imagine their destination, it is not all the scientist's fault in keeping documents in the drawer for too long, because it is the contracted product, we had to try our best to do that, we must have funding to do more, if there is no State funding, the businesses must create conditions, the stage of ordering and task registration is extremely important. We say that the enterprise is the center of innovation. At a certain stage, especially when it comes to testing and commercialization, it must be associated with the enterprise. Of course there is a risk, people call investment in science and technology a venture investment, which means that the success rate is not high, but if it is successful, it will bring great benefits.

You are both a scientist and a manager of science and technology. Presently, the scientists believe that it will be very complicated when a number of policies and mechanisms on administration and finance adopt the invested scientific researches. Therefore, in order to open the way for scientific and technological development, what do think the financial and administrative mechanisms should be improved?
I am also the leader of 2 state-level projects, in fact, when I compare them to the previous one, the current financial mechanism is more innovative and the leader has the right to make more decision. Actually, I only decide about 30% of the tasks that I want to do, I feel it necessary to do. For the remaining 70%, I still have to spend on many things. In the end, the efficiency is not high, so I think the financial mechanism must continue to be innovated; I support the guarantee of financial discipline.

In the coming time, we need to continue to renew our thinking to detect bottlenecks and remove barriers so that we can perfect mechanisms and policies on science and technology to create a truly favorable environment and unleash the creation potential of scientists. In that way, science and technology will truly become a driving force for socio-economic development.

Thank you very much for your valuable time and sharing!

Author: The reporter.

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