In favour of innovations

[b]Belarusian economy becomes more responsive to sci-tech developmentsRecently, an unusual biotechnological complex was created at the National Academy of Science of Belarus, revolutionising the growing of greenhouse vegetables. The new, light-emitting diodes are more efficient than traditional bulbs and emulate natural daylight, creating a more favourable environment for plants. The pale blue light encourages tomatoes, raising crop yields by 15-20 percent. Moreover, traditional soil is replaced by mineral cotton, with moisture and nutrient elements under computer control.[/b]The technology can be applied at traditional greenhouse farms, making Belarusian tomatoes more competitive in quality and price, even in winter, compared to imports from southern countries. The innovation can also have application within schools, sanatoriums, residential accommodation, ships and, even, space craft, since it enables people to have fresh vegetables always at hand. Naturally, the fresher the vegetable, the tastier and more nutritious it is.
Belarusian economy becomes more responsive to sci-tech developments
Recently, an unusual biotechnological complex was created at the National Academy of Science of Belarus, revolutionising the growing of greenhouse vegetables. The new, light-emitting diodes are more efficient than traditional bulbs and emulate natural daylight, creating a more favourable environment for plants. The pale blue light encourages tomatoes, raising crop yields by 15-20 percent. Moreover, traditional soil is replaced by mineral cotton, with moisture and nutrient elements under computer control.


The technology can be applied at traditional greenhouse farms, making Belarusian tomatoes more competitive in quality and price, even in winter, compared to imports from southern countries. The innovation can also have application within schools, sanatoriums, residential accommodation, ships and, even, space craft, since it enables people to have fresh vegetables always at hand. Naturally, the fresher the vegetable, the tastier and more nutritious it is.
Numerous innovations have been developed by Belarusian scientists over the last year, all for application in the domestic economy. In total, the National Academy of Sciences has created over 2,600 original developments in the past 12 months, including high-efficiency machinery and equipment, tools, devices, materials, technologies and control systems. Moreover, over 170 new crop varieties and domestic animal breeds have been cultivated. In 2009, scientists from the National Academy of Sciences took part in 40 state sci-tech programmes, as well as numerous international programmes.
Major efforts are being concentrated on innovations with practical applications. The Physics Institute has developed and produced universal three-wave lasers, widely used during surgical procedures; they are unrivalled, being able to perform various functions. Doctors have already developed a complex of medical technologies with the help of this laser, used in Belarus and abroad. Orders are flooding in from abroad for 2010 and beyond.
The high-speed SKIF supercomputer, created by the United Institute of Informatics Problems, is also benefiting medicine, allowing access to data from over 100 medical institutions within Belarus. Medical specialists can compare x-rays online to make an exact diagnosis, accessing from any of 1,200 automated work stations.
The National Academy of Sciences is involved in promoting similar sci-tech projects with real life applications. Mikhail Myasnikovich, the Chairman of the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, explains that, in 2009 alone, seven such new structures appeared at the NAS: in microbiology, DNA-testing and biotechnologies. These are the 5th and 6th such technological structures, with industrial manufactures inspired by their scientific achievements.
“Science and manufacturing often lack an innovational link,” notes Mr. Myasnikovich. “In 2010, we plan to set up 12-15 more scientific-practical complexes; we’ll undoubtedly succeed. We’ll also begin to create a high-tech park focusing on microelectronics, optics and laser technology — among domestic industrial enterprises.”
Meanwhile, a considerable portion of sci-tech goods are to be exported. In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences sold $17.5m of products and this figure should rise at least 1,5-fold in 2010. It may not seem a great deal but scientists assure us that all their developments are 100 percent added value, with no import components. By 2015, the NAS plans to increase its exports 2.5-fold.
The high level of NAS inventions is attracting foreign partners; good relations particularly exist with similar German organisations. Over ten joint projects are currently being implemented with French partners and active collaboration is in evidence with the UK. Recently, Minsk was visited by a group of American scientists, with whom we also plan to conduct some joint research. The eastern vector of co-operation is also gaining, while Arab countries, Venezuela and African states showed interest last year. Practical results are vital, with $20m of contracts being signed. Financing has already begun for DNA-technology and space information analyses.
Belarusian industry remains the major supplier of local scientific developments. A typical example is an unrivalled worldwide concept of a multiply-link trans-continental road train. Its advantage is that each of its links is able to carry 120 or more tonnes of cargo over thousands of kilometres, using an independent power unit. Its synchronous wheel steering makes it more manoeuvrable, as developed by the NAS Joint Institute of Machine Building. A pilot model has been manufactured at Minsk’s Automobile Works — famous worldwide for its line-haul trains. Other scientific developments are being brought to life at Minsk Motor Works and at the Belarusian Automobile Works, which has a 320-tonne capacity heavy duty dump truck. In total, in 2009, new models accounted for almost a third of all Belarusian industrial output.
Belarus has set a new ambitious task: to organise high-speed railway movement across the country, with travel time from Minsk to any regional centre of the republic reduced 2-2.5-fold over the next 2-3 years. Neighbouring Russia generally relies on importing component parts but Belarus is determined to use domestic manufactures.
“We’ve received proposals from investors to develop high-speed trains in Belarus, using technologies developed by us, as well as foreign innovations,” asserts Belarus’ Prime Minister, Sergei Sidorsky. “One industrial enterprise in the Minsk region has been asked to organise high-speed production.”
This innovation is essential to the republic. We belong to a small number of states with an extremely open economy; foreign trade turnover actually exceeds GDP. Under such conditions, we must manufacture competitively — as specified by the strategy for national science development.

By Vladimir Bibikov
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