Vietnamese Delegation Studies Innovation Governance at HSE
The Higher School of Economics recently hosted a special programme for a delegation from Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology. Over the course of a week, top-level officials from the country learned governance practices in the fields of science, technology and innovation in a special class held by HSE ISSEK.
Academic cooperation between Russia and Vietnam has a long history, which has intensified since the signing of an intergovernmental agreement in 2014 on strategic partnership in the field of education, science and technology. This was emphasized at the opening of the programme by Nikolai Toivonen, Director of the International Department of Russia’s Ministry of Education and Science. The trend to intensify ties in education can be seen, for example, in the growth of the state quota under which Vietnamese students come to study at Russian universities each year. In the 2015/2016 academic year, it will amount to 800 people, and by 2018, the number will increase to 1,000 people per year. Toivonen cited the establishment of the Vietnamese-Russian University of Technology as a key driver of the partnership and joint educational project. More than 50 Russian teachers have already been sent to Hanoi to deliver lectures and work on preparing joint educational programmes. Experts from the Department of Software Engineering at HSE’s Faculty of Computer Science were actively involved in the creation of this university.
Representatives of Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology were primarily interested in two areas – corporate management of innovation and the development of science, technology and innovation policy at a national scale. This is exactly what is included in the Master's programme ‘Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation’.
‘There are two areas that we are interested in’, said Tran Dac Hien, head of the delegation and director of the Department of Organization and Personnel at Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology. ‘The first is the experience of the Russian Federation in the area of innovation policy. The second is the experience in the field of science and technology. The knowledge we acquired in this course will be used to prepare recommendations on improving the Vietnamese system of innovation and management of science and technology’.
Leonid Gokhberg, First Vice Rector of HSE and Director of the HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge, opened the course with an introductory lecture on the Russian innovation system. According to him, in trying to integrate into the global competition, countries with developing economies, in particular the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, choose the strategy of concentrating resources in priority areas of science and technology. Decision-makers must be able to build effective links between different actors of the national innovation system and to promote cooperation with foreign research and educational centres.
During the programme Russian and foreign teachers used lectures and workshops to tell the audience about new approaches to innovation management at the enterprise level; financing science, technology and innovation activities; the legal aspects of commercializing research and development; and risk management in the implementation of research projects. A separate day was devoted to studying the latest tools in regional innovation policy, the development of innovative clusters and the strategy of ‘smart specialisation’.
‘The Russian experience of innovation in state corporations is very useful to us, because we have a similar situation. We also have several large state-owned companies, and now they need to establish innovative development programmes’, said Pham Tuan Anh, an expert from the Department of International Cooperation at Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology, in assessing the programme. ‘In Russia, these programmes have been working for five years already. Our companies operate in the oil, telecommunications, and shipbuilding sectors. While transferring Russia’s experience in full is impossible, we plan to explore its strengths and weaknesses and make use of the best in combination with our own experience. Russia has a vast experience in managing science, technology and innovation and holds the leading position in the world in the development of science and technology. Furthermore, Russia and Vietnam traditionally enjoy friendly relations; many of our leaders received their education in the Soviet Union and Russia’.
Ngo Van Mo, deputy head of the State Agency for Technological Innovation (Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam), offered his thoughts as well, especially with regard to how the lessons can be adapted to the differences in Vietnam’s economy. ‘In Russia, there are many very large companies, but small and medium enterprises have a very limited role in the economy. In our country, however, 97% of companies are small and medium enterprises. We have to account for these conditions. Still, the experience of our Russian friends is very useful for our country’.
Finally, foresight was another topic addressed by the programme. Alexander Chulok, Deputy Director of the Foresight Centre at the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge, gave the Vietnamese guests a detailed overview of the national system of technological foresight. During subsequent lessons, participants in the programme learned about key methods to form technology foresight studies and roadmaps, as well as approaches to using their results in managing research and innovation.