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Regular version of the site

Retrospects and Prospects

2020 has been a historical year, one of those that make a lasting imprint for the future. It has been a challenging year, nevertheless, not an easy one to let go off straight away to kickstart a new one. When we say goodbye to it, we wish to bring you the key highlights of the year with the members of the HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK), have experienced personally, and performed collectively with their research and engagement in different projects.

Focus on the Human

The spread of online formats during the time of the pandemic has reshaped and restructured all practices that we have been accustomed to and blurred the line between work-life balance as well as professional and family lives. Zoom conferences were casually visited by children or pets, or neighbours intruded on the conversation with deafening background noises. For one part, 2020 has pushed us to be more caring to one another, showing attention to both physical and spiritual well-being, for another part, it made us re-evaluate professional skills and personal qualities of employees. A special emphasise in the new circumstances has been placed on the importance and development of human capital and human potential.

From Thinking to Acting

In 2020, a new Global Research Centre (GRC) — Human Potential Interdisciplinary Research Centre — was launched as part of a consortium comprising HSE University, RANEPA, MGIMO, and RAS Ethnology and Anthropology Institute. HSE University is represented by research teams from Institute for Social Policy, Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge, Institute of Education, Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience, Faculty of Geography, several international laboratories and research centres.

As Leonid Gokhberg, First Vice-Rector, HSE ISSEK Director, comments: "We planned to participate in the contest about two years ago, right when the initiative to support global research centres has been presented within the Science National Programme. As an internationally acclaimed research university (which is confirmed, in particular, by inclusion in Top-100 ranking positions in global ratings), we thought our participation in this contest unequivocal. At the same time, we made up our minds concerning the theme of the project — human potential research — and involved in a team of partners with leading research and education centres that share our research focus".

Participating in such a prestigious contest, and finally winning it, was a serious challenge. This is arguably the largest social and humanitarian project in Russian science. Our partners and us have an important goal in front of us: to overcome a deep-rooted stereotype that the scientific leadership of the country could be secured mostly by virtue of natural sciences. In a severely competitive environment, we managed to demonstrate that the impact of the leading research and education centres in social and humanitarian sciences is by no means lower. The process of preparing the contest application was further complicated by the fact we needed to synchronise efforts of all members of our huge consortium, both internally and externally. The new year will mean a quick get going, as we aim to form an effective project management system, because the responsibility here is very high.’

Many states are putting their stakes on human potential development; global institutes, corporations, and industry-specific communities design their own sustainable development strategies. At the beginning of 2020, ROSATOM, with analytical support from HSE ISSEK, held the first Global Impact Conference 2020 ‘Energy for Impact’, dedicated to the role of human-centric approach in achieving balanced economic growth. As one of the results of the joint ROSATOM—HSE University project, a CorpMission: Human initiative was launched with an international Expert Council at its head. Further on, the Council will perform a large-scale study and develop a rating focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

Viral Engagement in the Digital Economy

This year of the coronavirus was impossible to imagine without the Internet. Namely, due to ICT-related solutions, millions of businesses have managed to stay afloat, billions of people have carried on working and studying online, selling and purchasing products and services, interacting with the government, interacting with each other. During this time the Internet became the major driver of global economic growth and a mainstream connective environment.

How Unscheduled Digitisation Changed Runet (Internet in Russian)?

In 2020, 76% of the Russian Internet users started to use digital tools more often to solve routine day-to-day tasks, according to a November online survey conducted at ISSEK (the sample comprised 3,000 adults reflecting the social demographic of the Russian World Wide Web). Consumption of informational and recreational content, use of public and education services, as well as interpersonal communication, have been most prominently influenced by this unscheduled digitisation.

The pandemic has also burdened the Internet infrastructure. By the end of the third quarter, the volume of mobile cellular traffic has increased by 49.3% in comparison to 2019 (16.2 exabytes), and fixed traffic increased by 31.8% (43.7 exabytes).

As most of our business relations went digital, many people had no other choice but to learn new skills prerequisite for the use of information technologies. They were actually forced to acquire digital skills in a much shorter time, — an achievement that by the government estimations, the population was supposed to reach in a comparatively longer-term perspective. This knowledge will not disappear after the pandemic — as a matter of fact, it can be said that our fellow citizens have jumped one step over.

The society’s close scrutiny over the ICT sector and wide recognition of its importance for the economy, especially during the pandemic, have boosted the government initiatives to adopt several support measures for this sector, including demand stimulation for its goods and services from other sectors of the economy. As a result, the growing expectations had to be met in bulk and in short order.

As Pavel Rudnik, Director of ISSEK Centre for Strategies and Programmes comments: "At the start of the year, we participated in designing a project for the IT industry development strategy, but after the pandemic, we had to reformulate a couple of approaches, including the macroeconomic forecast for the industry’s dynamics. Using the groundwork we laid in May and June, we prepared a financial and economic rationale for a tax manoeuvre in the IT industry, by calculating the most effective way for combining different incentives, approved by the Federal Law on Tax Manoeuvre in IT industry. During the second six months, ISSEK actively participated in developing a calculation methodology for the targets under the Digital Transformation National Goal (Presidential Decree no. 474 of July 21, 2020) together with representatives of all interested federal bodies of the executive branch. Special attention was paid to the achievement of ‘digital maturity’ target, which represents a number of about 100 difference digital development indicators from 10 key industries. By the end of the year, we have finished with the calculation methodology of over 65 new indicators for Russian Digital Economy National Programme and its federal projects, including digital economy personnel, information infrastructure, digital technologies, e-governance, and cybersecurity‘.

HSE ISSEK has been studying the development of information society since the beginning of 2020s. Almost half of its 20 centres are engaged in the digital agenda, by analysing the statistical tools, sociology, big data mining, monitoring and foresight surveys. Articles are published on a regular basis describing the results of the achieved output. In particular, in 2020, ROSATOM together with the Russian Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media have published two data books in series ‘Indicators of Digital Economy’ and ‘Digital Economy’. The series published together with the Coordination Centre for TDL .RU/.РФ have been joined by the fourth analytical report ‘Internet Development Trends: Readiness of the Economy and Society for Operating in a Digital Environment’ (in Russian). Also, a report titled ‘Digital Technologies in the Russian Economy’ has been published, which we will elaborate on in the coming year.

Contacts on Zoom

‘Lockdown’, ‘self-isolation’, ‘quarantine’, and several other pandemic-related words have been put down by editors of reputable dictionaries and linguists as words of the year. Travel restrictions and closure of borders to contain the spreading of COVID-19 have certainly changed our lives and working conditions in a radical way. Traditional ways to maintain contact have been replaced by online and virtual formats. And even international relations of scientists have transferred to a new type of relative mobility.

With examples:

In April, the First International Online Forum was held titled ‘World after the Coronavirus: view from the heart of Europe.’ As pointed out by Alexander Chulok, Director of S&T Foresight Centre, who participated in the session ‘Human Capital. Crisis of Labour Market and Potential of Online Professions,’ the streaming of it has been watched by over a million people. Such an auditorium is hardly likely to gather offline on an expert forum.

Alyona Nefedova, Senior Research Fellow at the Laboratory for the Economics of Innovation, shares her experience: ‘As we trudged through COVID-19, some opportunities closed its doors, some other were opened: online collaboration has increased in multiple times, which was easier to notice in young researchers: it became easier to coordinate activities with an international audience, without spending a lot of resources (which is a serious barrier for scientific integration). This year I was lucky enough to participate online in two very strong scientific events, which in ‘real-life’ would have restricted access. Firstly, a workshop by Oxford professor Lynn McAlpine, a famous researcher of scientific careers; secondly, a Zoom conference ‘Researchers mobility during COVID-2019’, organised by Caroline Wagner, one of the leading specialists in S&T and innovation policy, with support from AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science, the publisher of the Science Journal). So, undoubtedly, fast-spreading digitisation of academic communication has its positive moments, but, naturally, we all miss the informal chatter.’

Distance Learning: Safety Issues and Equality of Opportunities

Transferring all types of education and training online is one of the most pervasive and indisputable innovations of this year. It was a total lockdown at the start, and later — a partial lockdown. In March, our English-speaking Master’s programme ‘Governance of Science, Technology, and Innovation’ also switched to the distant mode. And, it was the first HSE programme to usher in the new academic year in the same format.

Teaching Students Exclusively Online

Ekaterina Streltsova, Senior Research Fellow at ISSEK, Associate Professor, and director of two educational courses under Master’s programme ‘Governance of Science, Technology, and Innovation,’ shares her experience: ‘As far as I am aware, our programme is the only one so far that still has not switched back offline. On September 1, we resumed the programme in fully remote mode. We have many international students that were unable to enter Russia, so, this decision was motivated not only by the safety issues but also by just acquisition of knowledge and equality of opportunities. I have to confess that I was skeptical from the get-go about this whole distant education because live discussions at the seminars are a necessary component of my courses that ensure the quality of received knowledge. But in the end, I discovered that online classes give a boost to your creative streak and open up opportunities to experiment with different formats. For example, I could not organise a trip to Skoltech which I planned to do beforehand, so, I thought: Alright then, to which content my access is unrestricted? As a result, I asked my students to watch films at online cinemas and conduct small research. They were to choose any film about ‘technologies of the future’ and — since they are specialists in this area — to access to what degree the high-tech solutions that appeared in their films are actually ‘fantastic.’ As it turned out, many of them have all the chances to become mundane parts in our modern lives or still, in the nearest future. We finished the course with a https://www.hse.ru/ma/sti/news/428446059.htmlcollection of film reviews that the students have written. I think it will be an excellent guide for those who are interested in modern-day technologies. Also, thanks to distance learning, we managed to conduct a whole series of guide lectures with scientists from other universities, cities, and countries. I reckon it would be much harder to do something of this scale in real life. So, in a nutshell, online life does exist after all!’

This year, ISSEK traditionally participated in annual Monitoring of Education Markets and Organisations. In this year’s surveys, we paid specific attention to online education and preparedness of educational organisations for transferring its educational activities online. Digitisation of this area and its consequences will become most important within the frameworks of GRS projects.

Crisis – Time for Innovation Boost?

A long-term ISSEK project to develop a methodology for the statistical monitoring of the STI sector and its harmonisation with international standards has continued in 2020 and entered the stage of practical application in the official statistics system. As a result of one of the ISSEK’s projects, the Rosstat has updated its current programme for statistical measuring of innovation activity of enterprises and, in particular, ensured its compliance with the 4th revision of the Oslo Manual. Innovation activity of large, medium-sized, and small enterprises was surveyed under the updated programme.

Its Results Have Shown That:

Innovation expenditure grows. In 2019, its amount equalled 1.95 trillion roubles. In the manufacturing sector, this indicator value has reached 984.3 billion roubles, which is 6% higher than the previous year and is the same as in 2017 (in constant prices). A positive trend in innovation expenditure has also been found in the services and agriculture sectors.

At the same time, the 2019 innovation activity of large and medium-sized enterprises equalled 9.1%, which is lower than in the previous years. Only one in every ten enterprises plans to implement innovations in the nearest 2-3 years.

Innovative goods and services produced in 2019 reached to 4.9 trillion roubles, but their percentage in the total sales has not exceeded 5.3%. High-tech manufacturing enterprises are an exception, with an innovation activity output comparable with the leading European states (18.1%).

An important driver for innovation is consumer demand. For the last three years, over a quarter of innovative enterprises have sold innovative goods and services on customer orders.

More information about the results of the statistical survey of innovations, conducted under the updated methodology can be found in our data book ‘Science. Technology. Innovation: 2020’.

In 2020, approaches to update the measurement system of innovations for international comparisons and monitoring of innovation policy implementation in different sectors of the economy were widely discussed among public authorities as well as expert and business communities. In particular, Leonid Gokhberg, First Vice-Rector and Director of HSE ISSEK, has presented a report on innovations in the Russian economy at a session of the Russian Accounts Chamber; in July, ISSEK experts discussed these issues over an online conference at the Russian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade with representatives from the Russian Federal Tax Service, Rospatent, Skolkovo Fund, and Rosstat.

Megacities Competition for Talent

During the first months of lockdown, many Muscovites and dwellers of other megacities, who had the opportunity to travel to their countryside homes, would happily exchange their amenities for a breath of fresh air and a chance to get away from being cooped up within four walls. A radical change of priorities, including choosing a place to live and work, made us ask this kind of question:

How Cities Attract and Retain Talent?

In 2020, the ISSEK Russian Cluster Observatory put its best foot forward to analyse what megacities are the most successful in the competition for talent and how did they manage to achieve that. On a sample of 36 global cities most attractive for innovators, our researchers have analysed the factors that define the level of technological development, creative industries, and urban environment, and on the basis of 120 indicators have calculated the first HSE Global Cities Innovation Index (HSE GCII).

During the first months of lockdown, many Muscovites and dwellers of other megacities, who had the opportunity to travel to their countryside homes, would happily exchange their amenities for a breath of fresh air and a chance to get away from being cooped up within four walls. A radical change of priorities, including choosing a place to live and work, made us ask this kind of question:

Evgeniy Kutsenko, Director of the ISSEK Russian Cluster Observatory and head of the research, comments: "Although the development of cities and measurement of innovations are extremely popular among relevant researchers, they are usually subjected to a separate study, without combining them in the scope of one work. The issue here lies in the lack of reliable data. In HSE GCII project we decided to look into highly-reputable independent sources, which, however, do not break the data down on the city level, because they are gathered for different purposes. It took us one year to solve this issue with the help of 76 hard-working interns from among the HSE students. The principal part of our metrics is occupied by indicators that measure whether there are any creative personalities in the city or any organisations that unite them. For example, we studied in which cities the Nobel Prize winner prefer to live; counted headquarters of corporations from Fortune Global 500 and Innovation 1000 lists; in fashion were studied brands that are traded on Farfetch, in cinema — IMDb rating leaders. The success of the city is composed of companies and the people living in it. To bring out this talent in the global perspective and to abolish the restrictions for achieving the success are important humanitarian objectives that move our study forward. We hope that HSE GCII will make its duly contribution to their achievement."

Creativity Raises the Price on Anything

During the pandemic, the search for new sources of economic growth has increased, and creativity has become a significant driver for the development of the economy. A perfect example of that is Banksy, who raised the price of a house he chose as a wall for his graffiti ten times overnight. South Korea, which entered the top ten of the Global Innovation Index 2020, owes much of it to BTS and Blackpink groups and the Oscar-winning film ‘Parasite’.


Business-related to creativity makes a visible contribution (3%) to the global GDP. The volume of the global market of creative industries’ goods and services equals $509 billion. Creative industries most often include architecture, publishing, design, fashion, visual and performing arts, music, feature and animated films, software development and gaming, TV and radio broadcasting, advertising, museums.

This year ISSEK presented the results of Moscow’s Creative Industries study. Building upon the definition of creative industries as a sum of all sectors of the economy, where added value is largely made up from creative activities and IP rights management, the ISSEK experts have evaluated the share of the creative sector in the Moscow’s economy at 6.3%. The capital generates over a half of all added value of Russian creative industries. This sector’s input in the Moscow’s economy is comparable with other megacities, despite its considerable industrial potential on the global scale. Over 60 thousand organisations and 54.6 thousand sole proprietors work in creative industries. This sector employs approximately 463 thousand people. The industry’s revenue exceeded 3 trillion roubles in 2018.

Mikhail Gershman, Deputy Director of the Centre for S&T, Innovation and Information Policies and head of the research, comments: ‘The leading countries are actively supporting creative industries and their particular segments, by designing and implementing their development strategies. To compile the evidence base of the policy, many states have initiated and developed statistical studies in the sphere of creative industries. Over the last years, Russia has been paying more attention to this sector and to its support on all levels of governance. The mass media has a wide range of qualitative estimates, but they have a strictly expert nature. The statistics system that we have for this area has not been fully formed yet up to this point, and no methodological endeavours have been attempted to its formulation. With the best international practices in mind, we have created approaches and measured key economic indicators of Moscow’s creative industries, demonstrated how they represent a significant segment of the capital’s economy in terms of both employment and value-added. Our solutions for measuring creative industries could be applied to other regions or Russia in general.’

Economic Mood Swings

The year of 2020 brought almost unprecedented trials and tribulations for both the society and the world economy. Positive expectations and growth of stock exchanges followed by a US—China trade agreement have been instantly replaced at the end of the first quarter by a slump in business activity caused by the accelerating pandemic. Since the very start of it, Russian entrepreneurs’ and population’s reaction to the lockdown and constraint measures have resulted in an economic sentiment collapse.

Even in April and May...

... the business activity was almost in ‘comatose state’, which, in turn, lead to irreversible damage. The shock, however, as unexpected and powerful as it appeared, was, albeit, short-lived. Already at the end of the summer, the results of the monitoring evidenced that the Russians have adapted to the new conditions and showed a positive response to timely businesses and households support measures. Negative tendencies made a sharp turn, and key monitoring indicators have reinstated most of the losses.

As Ludmila Kitrar, Deputy Director at Centre for Business Tendency Studies, comments: “In order to have a better understanding of business activity during coronavirus and the following recovery, we have developed new early response indicators. Indices measuring business climate, risk tolerance, business capabilities, economic vulnerability and uncertainty, and business barriers helped us to assess from different perspectives the scale and measure of businesses’ recuperative actions to overcome market shocks. Not only Russia has experienced a unique economic situation this passing year. European economies have undergone the same, if not more severe, shocks. Over the last years, the results of both Russian, and European business activity monitoring uncovered the so-called ‘cognitive shift’, i.e. when enterprises and households sentiments have not yet fully recovered from the previous crisis and were pulled into a situation of a deeper uncertainty and high volatility. Economic anxiety of 2020 has increased so much in almost all of the countries that the ‘old normality’ as we knew it managed to keep only the digital frame and a vague reflection of a vanishing scenery — the need to search for new growth models and economic policy instruments has become painfully apparent.”

E-Commerce Growth from Moscow to Sakhalin

Restrictive measures to battle the COVID-19 has brought a fundamental shift in the structure of global online demand and consumption. Increase of e-commerce and the use of digital instruments to communicate has underlined the decisive role of digital economy and the need to overcome the digital gap between states, and inside individual countries.

In Russia, Not All Regions Were Prepared to Face the Growth of E-Commerce...

The ISSEK Centre for Business Tendencies Studies has begun to monitor the dynamics of regional e-commerce activity in 2020. The research base were the results surveys of over 5,000 trade organisations heads conducted quarterly by Rosstat.

In the first six months of 2020, experts noticed a considerable growth of regional involvement compared to the same period in 2019. The cluster analysis of Russian regions by the average weight of goods sold via e-commerce has shown a doubled number of regions with a high e-commerce activity (from 10 till 21). Of them, the highest sales activity has been demonstrated by five regions: Moscow, and Bryansk, Vladimir, Kirov, and Sakhalin Regions. In 14 regions the level of e-commerce activity is medium, in 15 — low. Despite a considerable decrease in the number (from 37 to 25 regions), the largest cluster still belongs to ‘a very low level of activity’, which signifies there is a digital gap and barriers to develop e-commerce in a considerable number of regions.

Inna Lola, Deputy Director of the ISSEK Centre for Business Tendencies Studies, comments: "During the pandemic, e-commerce of electronic goods and services turned out to be in high demand all around the world. Although the growth we are witnessing can be short-termed and end together with the current crisis, the long-term changes in the customer habits may potentially make the business and consumers more adaptable to consuming services in digital form. The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic may be long lasting and the e-commerce of goods and services will continue to adapt to arising conditions. In short- and middle-term perspective, this shock may cause the recovery of the economic activity, or even accelerate the ongoing digitisation of the trade sector by creating entirely new trends. According to the Russian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, the volume of e-commerce will exceed 7 trillion roubles by 2024, which is 19% of the total sales."

Even Central Banks Are Integrating Blockchain

The pandemic has brought a rapid accumulation of debt in the developed countries. The threatening escalation of inflation in the nearest future forces the global investors to put their money not only in equity but also in alternative financial instruments, such as cryptocurrencies. The central banks that feel the emanating threat from non-controllable cryptocurrencies that gain more and more popularity are actively experimenting with launching their own digital currencies, which will enable previously impossible operations through the use of distributed ledger properties.

Is Russia Going to Have a ‘Digital Rouble’?

Yury Dranev, Head of ISSEK Quantitative Modelling Unit, comments: ‘The Bank of Russia is keeping up with the global trends and is currently developing its own ‘digital rouble’. By ISSEK estimations (performed within a project commissioned by the Russian Ministry of Digital Development), the capacities of distributed ledger technologies, as one of the key ‘end-to-end’ digital technologies, will enable production of goods and services with an added value in the financial sector, telecommunications, energy sector, transportation, and other sectors of the Russian economy, that may exceed 800 billion roubles by 2024."

Within the World Bank project dedicated to the digital transformation of the eurozone, ISSEK experts have shown that even a slightly stagnant European economy can add 6% of the eurozone GDP by 2030 on account of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies in the financial sector. Introduction of digital roubles on the basis of distributed ledger technologies may transform the Russian financial sector and make a valuable contribution to the economic development of the nation.

Futures Literacy As a Competence of the 21st Century

COVID-19 has become the main jocker of 2020 (in foresight, that is how events with low probability but huge effects on all spheres of life are called). The hypothesis whether it is possible to predict such occurrences and calculate their effects is out of the agenda now. At the same time, the foresight researchers themselves have gained a much broader range of tasks, and the same sort of thing happened to the circle of people who have become engaged in foresight — it has greatly increased.

General and Specific Answers to Questions about Future

ISSEK has strengthened its partnerships with global foresight centres and enlarged its portfolio of international projects.

In November, ISSEK has held the 10th Foresight and STI Policy Conference. It had a five-day schedule and focused on the broadest geographical coverage — from Japan to the US and Brazil. The anniversary of the Foresight Conference has become the most continuous in its history. It also welcomed the biggest number of representatives: 400 participants from 37 countries registered in the Zoom conference as listeners; over 60 researchers and experts from more than 20 countries presented their papers and provided comments; and some international organisations (such as OECD, UNIDO, WIPO, etc.), ministries and agencies, development institutes, companies, funds, scientific centres, and universities. Many papers were dedicated to new challenges connected with proliferation of COVID-19 pandemic, and the changing agenda of foresight research and S&T policy.

ISSEK participated in the first UNESCO High-Level Futures Literacy Summit as a potential UNESCO Chair on issues of futures literacy, which was held in December and united over 5,000 participants from all over the globe. Being among the 40 leading foresight think tanks, ISSEK represented in its virtual exhibition booths the S&T foresight focus areas. Apart from that, the booth shared scientific journals, illuminating the futures agenda, was joined by the Foresight and STI Governance Journal editorial board. This summer, the Journal was included in the Scopus Q1. This is the biggest international citation database, where Foresight and STI Governance (published since 2007) has been indexed since 2013.

In 2020, many foresight projects of HSE ISSEK has been related to BRICS. The five member states have been accelerating their activity in the sphere of S&T foresight. National foresight projects have been implemented in Brazil (Technological Foresight Programme), Russia (Russian S&T Foresight 2030), China (6th Technological Foresight), and South Africa (Science. Technology. Innovation: 2030). BRICS countries pull their efforts in the sphere of foresight, and their cooperation becomes more systematic with each passing year, including with the help of ISSEK.

Alexander Sokolov, Director of the Foresight Centre and Deputy Director of ISSEK, comments: ‘We have been exchanging the methodology of foresight research for a long time with our colleagues from Brazil, China, India, and South Africa. At our annual Foresight Conference, we dedicated a special workshop to the S&T foresight in BRICS countries. Among its participants are the key players in this area: Brazilian Center for Strategic Studies and Management in Science, Technology and Innovation (CGEE), Indian Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development (CASTED), South African National Advisory Council on Innovation. Russian S&T Foresight 2030 has been published in China and since has gained a lot of attention. As part of our series ‘Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies’ performed together with Springer Nature, a book about technological foresight in China and South Africa is in its final stages of publication. Under the contract with the South African Department of Science and Technologies, our Institute had started in 2018 the development of the South African STI Forecast which will lay the groundwork for a new ten-year innovation development programme for South Africa. In 2021, we will continue to work on this project through the lens of a more detailed analysis of the effects the S&T development may bring out in several areas. We also plan to launch a couple of joint projects with Chinese and Indian colleagues.’

Science As a Focal Point of Big Expectations

In 2020, the humanity had vested their hopes especially on scientists. Everyone waited for active vaccines and protocols for treating COVID-19. However, the role of scholar expertise has also become prominent in measures to support various industries that sustained losses due to corona-crisis. Global search for ways to stop the pandemic became a crash-test of S&T policies in many countries; it has broadened international cooperation in science and strengthened the authority of science in the mind of the public.

The Role of Science Came into Play before...

Thus, already in 2019, the career of a scientist entered the top of most wanted professions, with an absolute majority of Russians that were sure science was becoming more important around the globe (93%), and in Russia (86%). Almost a quarter of a century ago, these indicators were at a level of 54% and 14%, respectively.

Konstantin Fursov, Deputy Director of the Centre for Statistics and Monitoring of S&T and Innovation comments: ‘For science 2020 turned out to be hard, but productive — be it from the perspective of new discoveries, or scientists’ adaptation to new working conditions. Many hardships (psychological discomfort of having to work remotely, increased not work-related burden, etc.) have been successfully overcome by scientists in most cases, so they could concentrate on summarising the results of their research and work on scientific publications. These observations in particular were supported by two mono-surveys conducted in spring and summer together with Coordination Board for Youth Affairs in Science and Education under the President’s Council on Science and Education. Engagement in the scientific discourse of a larger circle of non-professionals became an important trend. Citizen science was among the key examples. Our team studied this phenomenon in 2019, and in 2020 a new platform to support volunteering in science was launched. Such initiatives not only make science more open to the society, they transform the way of producing scientific knowledge, involving end-users in it.’

How public attitudes have changed during the pandemic in respect of science and new technologies, and what Russians think about research results, ISSEK analyses using the data of the survey conducted as part of the Monitoring Survey of Innovative Behavior of the Population. A more detailed review of their activities will be published next year. 2021 has been announced in Russia as a Year of Science and Technology. Our team will continue to study trends of research and development and share what they found.

The semantic trend map created by HSE ISSEK Intelligent FOResight Analytics system iFORA, also highlights COVID-19 related concepts. But the coronacrisis was far from being unique to the global media agenda in 2020.

Semantic Trend Map 2020 (by iFORA)

Source: Intelligent Foresight Analytics system (iFORA)

The material was prepared by:

Texts: Alexander Sokolov, Alexander Chulok, Pavel Rudnik, Kristina Utyatina, Mikhail Gershman, Konstantin Fursov, Evgeniy Kutsenko, Alena Nefedova, Marina Klubova, Yulia Milshina, Ekaterina Streltsova, Svetlana Fridlyanova, Georgy Ostapkovich, Ludmila Kitrar, Inna Lola, Tamara Lipkind, Yury Dranev, Sofya Chernogorceva, Ekaterina Islankina, Elena Gutaruk

Translation: Maria Rukhalenko

Proof-reading: Ozcan Saritas

iFORA visualisation: Marina Klubova, Gleb Kuzmin


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