Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) was created by decree #426 of the President of the Russian Federation “On urgent measures for preserving scientific and technological potential of the Russian Federation” and is a self-governed state nonprofit organisation in the form of a federal organisation controlled by the Government of the Russian Federation. Being a representative of the state, the Foundation provides targeted diversified support to leading groups of scientists regardless of the organisation they represent. Support of initiative scientific research in all the principal directions of fundamental science is carried out strictly on a competition basis after a comprehensive evaluation.
Decisions on whether to support or to decline projects by RFBR are taken by the scientific community itself represented by the most authoritative and actively working scientists – members of the Foundation expert panels. This is a completely new organisational form for Russian science, which has opened to scientists broader possibilities for creative self-expression and allowed them to choose the subjects of research on their own, create research groups and concentrate funds in the most promising research directions.
The Foundation carries out its activities in accordance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation, federal laws, decrees and directives of the President of the Russian Federation, decrees and directives of the Government of the Russian Federation, and its charter.
In its chartered activities RFBR relies on the following principles:
- openness — announcements of competitions and their results, the Foundation's decisions on financing projects and events, and also other materials are published in paper editions and online;
- targeted financing of groups of scientists (and not organisations as a whole), which perform projects approved by the Foundation experts;
- giving the scientists freedom of choice of subjects in all fields of natural sciences and humanities, of methods of conducting fundamental research, and of creating research groups.
From 1992 to 2009 RFBR has conducted eighteen cycles of the main competition for initiative projects in all fields of natural sciences and humanities. Scientists from more than 4000 Russian organisations cooperated with RFBR during this period.
Currently RFBR holds 17 kinds of competitions and competition programs for supporting scientists, including international ones (with 26 countries in 2009) and regional ones – with 46 subjects of all federal districts.
By 2009 about 205 thousands applications have been considered for all kinds of competitions, including more than 104 thousands initiative ones; about 79 thousands projects have been supported, including over 38 thousands Initiative ones.
Over 260 thousands people have participated in applications submitted to the Foundation, and about 200 thousands performers participated in projects approved by RFBR in all competitions.
RFBR provides equal opportunities to every researcher, regardless of his or her title, organisation, age, and region, to participate in the Foundation competition and in case of success to receive financial support for his or her projects.
The Foundation sees its mission in developing the powerful intellectual potential of our country, which is becoming a key element in the development of Russia.
The main task of the Foundation is to select on the basis of competitions the best scientific projects among those that were submitted to the Foundation by scientists in an initiative order and subsequently to support the selected projects organisationally and financially.
Scientific directions supported by the Foundation are:
- mathematics, mechanics, and information technology;
- physics and astronomy;
- chemistry and studies of materials;
- biology and medical science;
- Earth science;
- humanities and social sciences;
- information technology and computer systems;
- fundamental basics of engineering sciences.
The principal direction of the Foundation is the competition of initiative projects performed by small (up to ten persons) groups of scientists or by individual researchers.
RFBR competitions and competition programs in 2009
Overall during the year the Foundation financed 15 types of competitions and two programs:
• a) competition for initiative scientific projects carried out by small (up to ten persons) groups of scientists or individual researchers;
• ano) competition for projects of writing analytical reviews;
• b) competition for projects of developing the material and technical base of scientific research;
• g) competition for projects of organising Russian and international scientific events on Russian territory;
• d) competition for publishing projects;
• z) competition for projects of participation of Russian scientists in international scientific events abroad;
• k) competition for projects of organising expeditions (and field trips);
• m) competitions for international projects;
• mob) competition for projects in the program “Mobility of young scientists”;
• ofi-m) competition for projects of oriented fundamental research on interdisciplinary subjects of current interest;
• ofi) competition for projects of oriented fundamental research;
• ofi-ts) joint competition with RF organisations;
• r) competition for regional projects;
• competitions for projects with CIS countries;
• s) competition for popular scientific articles by RFBR grant holders;
• e) competition for projects of urgent research support;
• program “Electronic Scientific Library”.
Expertise is a principal element of the Foundation's activity. All RFBR decisions to support projects are made only as a result of expertise. RFBR became the first organisation in Russia using this practice. Each application to RFBR goes through an independent multistage expert evaluation in every field of knowledge.
Each year the Foundation engages about 3,000 experts who conduct 65-70 thousand evaluations.
RFBR uses modern information technology widely, which allows to conduct 75 to 100% of expert evaluations online. This has allowed to increase the number of experts from the regions of Russia significantly. RFBR is an active participant in international scientific cooperation.
According to the Government's decision, beginning with 1997, 6% of funding in the federal budget assigned to financing fundamental research and facilitating scientific and technical progress is sent to RFBR each year.
RFBR grants are given as subsidies to legal entities for targeted use without the need to return the funds.
The allocation of funds between different kinds of RFBR activities is approved each year by the Foundation Board. The principal part of the Foundation's funds (over 70%) is directed towards financing initiative scientific projects performed by small groups of scientists (up to ten persons) or individual scientists (see Fig. 3 for RFBR 2009 budget allocation). An initiative project can be financed for three years at most.
COMPETITION FOR ORIENTED FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH
RFBR has been holding competitions since 2004 for oriented fundamental research that is in essence research projects that have prospects of commercialisation. Since that time their number has soared.
The results of research which had been performed with RFBR support are used in high technology that forms the basis of innovation economics.
In 2009 RFBR organised and held for the first time a competition for oriented fundamental interdisciplinary research in 18 directions. The themes of interdisciplinary research were defined by the Foundation Board on the basis of analysing results obtained earlier by research projects supported by RFBR. The primary purpose of the new competition is to obtain and generalise in brief time frame scientific results that must make a significant contribution to broadening and deepening knowledge of nature, the human being, and the society, to serve the interests of social and economic development and strengthening the security of RF, heightened authority of Russian science and its integration into world scientific space.
Subjects of the competition for oriented fundamental interdisciplinary research:
1.Prognostic modeling on supercomputers of the petaflop class.
3.Coherent interaction of radiations.
5.Interaction of electromagnetic fields with matter.
8.Environmentally friendly chemistry.
9.New drugs and vaccines.
10.Eukaryote genomics and proteomics.
11. Resource base of strategic raw materials.
12. Electromagnetic influence on the environment.
13. Cognitive research.
14. New generation information systems.
15. Nanomaterials on metallic, ceramic, and polymer bases.
16. Semiconducting structures for electronics and energy sources.
17. Solid-body wave electronics.
18. Problems of theoretical mathematics.
Results obtained during carrying out projects for the competition for interdisciplinary fundamental research must make a significant contribution to broadening and widening knowledge of nature, the human being, and society, serve the interests of social and economic development and strengthening the security of Russian Federation, heightened authority of Russian science and its integration into world scientific space.
COMPETITION FOR TARGETED FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH
Targeted fundamental research on behalf of federal organisations is one of the important directions in RFBR activities. It corresponds, among others, to the five directions defined by the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev:
Energy efficiency and energy saving
Fundamental problems of creating semiconducting nanostructures for electronics and renewable energy sources
Fundamental bases of forming resource base of strategic raw materials
Competition on behalf of nuclear energy state corporation “Rosatom”
Competition on behalf of Federal Space Agency
Fundamental bases of creating new drugs and vaccines
Fundamental aspects of eukaryote genomics and proteomics
Competition on behalf of Russian academy of medical science
Strategic Information Technology
Fundamental problems of using supercomputers of the petaflop class for detailed prognostic modelling in scientific and engineering research
Developing fundamental bases, algorithmic bases and calculation methods for information systems of a new generation
According to agreements with organisations and departments the Foundation finances projects in the following fields:
• critical industrial technology, primarily nanotechnology;
• electronic component base;
• technology for radio-technical, information managing system and telecommunications;
• special chemical technology;
• technologies of avionics, shipbuilding, industrial equipment, energetics, and transport systems;
• securing economic safety;
• other scientifically important and competitive directions.
The results of research are applied during Federal targeted programs and conform to Priority directions for development of science and technology and the subjects of RFBR competitions.
By the initiative of Russian Foundation for Basic Research, beginning with 1997, according to agreements with administrations and governments of subjects of Russian Federation regional competitions for research projects have been held. In the years that have passed, such competitions have received a broad public support, and targeted support of scientific research on competition basis in the regions has acquired a steady character.
In the years that have passed, administrations of 65 subjects of Russian Federation have taken the role of organisers of competitions together with RFBR; in most of them holding such competitions has become a tradition.
A key tenet of regional competitions is equal financing of supported projects by RFBR and the subject of Russian Federation. This way the problem of attracting additional funding from regional budgets and the industrial sector, in addition to supporting university science, is solved.
The second important tenet of organising these competitions is creating regional expert panels, which necessarily include not only specialists in the scientific directions of the competition, but also representatives of regional administrations. The specific composition of these panels is determined by the RF subject and approved by RFBR.
The principal goals of regional competitions are:
• Support and development of fundamental research in different regions of the country
• Attracting funding for science from regional budgets and industry through holding regional competitions
The means of achieving these goals are:
• Holding regional competitions for initiative projects with equal financing and joint evaluation of projects
• Wide engagement of specialists from other cities for expertise of various RFBR projects via the Foundation information system
• Providing access to scientists from all regions of the country to world's scientific information resources.
From 1997 to 2009 the number of RF subjects that took the role of competition co-founders together with RFBR grew from 4 to 72, and the number of regional projects receiving the Foundation's support – from 177 to over 1,300 per year.
The mechanism of expertise for these projects is a two-stage one and includes the work of the Foundation expert panels and regional expert panels. In organising such competitions the interests of the federation subjects are a priority.
The principal scientific directions of the regional competitions are:
- developing the theoretical foundations and mathematical models for rational use of natural resources;
- studying natural laws for development of huge regions: Arctic, West Siberia, Ural, Chernozem, the Yenisei meridian, and Middle and Upper Volga;
- fundamental scientific research directed towards creating resource-saving technologies, new renewable energy sources, and new materials;
- studying environmental pollution of various kinds and searching for methods of liquidating their consequences and rehabilitating ecosystems;
- problems of studying, preserving, and developing national culture and artifacts of cultural heritage.
RFBR PROGRAM “MOBILITY OF YOUNG SCIENTISTS”
To fulfill the directive of the President of the Russian Federation from Aug 4, 2006, #Pr-1321 and in accordance with the decision of RFBR Board from Dec 19, 2006, and Mar 29, 2007, the Foundation holds competitions for supporting the mobility of young scientists. Young specialists under the age of 35 permanently living and working on the territory of Russia Federation can take part in the competitions.
The structure of the program:
- Supporting internships of young Russian scientists in Russian scientific centres.
- Providing travel grants for trips to conferences in Russia.
- Providing travel grants for trips abroad.
- Supporting internships of CIS scientists in Russian scientific centres.
- Supporting youth schools, conferences, and scientific workshops.
- International scientific research projects with participation of young scientists.
The following competitions take place in the framework of the program “Mobility of young scientists”.
1. Support for scientific work of young Russian scientists in the leading scientific organisations of Russian Federation.
The competition involves scientific internships of young Russian scientists in leading scientific centres. The primary goals of this competition are providing work for young scientists in leading scientific centres, increasing the quality of their scientific training, exchange of experience and development of scientific ties. Winners of the competition receive financial support for paying for the labour, travel expenses, and living expenses of young scientists.
2. Support for scientific work of young scientists from CIS countries in Russian scientific organisations.
The primary goals of this competition are engaging young talented scientists from CIS countries in working for Russian scientific organisations, and support and development of international scientific ties. The competition is held among organisations that invite young scientists from CIS countries. Winners of the competition receive financial support for paying for the labour, travel expenses, and living expenses of young scientists.
3. Support for organising youth scientific events (conferences, symposiums, etc).
The competition is directed towards supporting organisation of youth scientific conferences, schools, and symposiums.
4. Support for participation of young scientists in scientific events taking place on the territory of the Russian Federation.
FRBR supports participation of young scientists in scientific events held on Russian territory on a competition basis. According to the competition terms, the young scientist must be the head or a performer of an initiative RFBR project and make a spoken presentation for the event. The grant can be spent for partial payment of travel expenses for participating in the scientific event, within the limits of the amount allocated by the Foundation for the specific project.
5. Support of participation of young scientists in scientific events taking place abroad.
The competition is directed towards supporting the participation of young scientists in scientific events taking place abroad.
RFBR is an active participant of the world scientific process.
The foundation organises:
- competitions for projects of joint fundamental research by Russian and foreign scientists;
- competitions for projects for supporting participation of Russian scientists in conferences and meetings abroad.
RFBR activity has received international acclaim and is an effective form of integration of Russian researchers into the world's scientific space.
The geography of international RFBR competitions reflects already active cooperation with 32 foreign partners from 25 countries, among which European countries predominate, along with countries where fundamental research in natural sciences is being conducted intensively. In accordance to agreements with partner foundations in some of these countries joint competitions are held not every year and can be limited to one or two types of competitions. The closest and most fruitful ties are with colleagues from Germany, France, and China. Special attention is given to international projects leading to innovation breakthroughs in different fields.
The Foundation also supports:
- joint scientific projects of the international DFG program “International research groups with the participation of young scientists” withing the framework of an RFBR-DFG agreement;
- projects within the framework of the competition “Joint research groups” Gemlinschaft – RFBR and other international programs.
Continuing and improving the standard practice of holding bilateral international competitions, RFBR takes a wider and wider part in multilateral international competitions initiated by its foreign partners. In 2009 examples of such participation were competitions held by RFBR together with THE USA National Scientific Foundation “International chemistry cooperation” and “Joint competition for material studies”, and also a first-time competition held jointly with Germany and France for trilateral Russian-French-German scientific workshops.
RFBR participates in large international scientific research programs:
- Interdisciplinary program of developing software for calculations on the ekzaflop scale during solving global problems. Participants: the USA, Canada, Germany, France, Great Britain, Russia.
- Project of creation an X-ray laser on free electrons. Organisers: German foundation “Helmholz association, RFBR.
- Studies of ultrastrong electromagnetic fields. Organisers: CNRS (France), RFBR.
- Fundamental research in the field of molecular biology. Organisers: European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), RFBR.
- Coordination of national and joint programs of studies in the field of physics of space particles (ASPERA) Organisers: EU countries, RFBR.
- Program of support of fundamental research for fighting HIV.
JOINT COMPETITIONS WITH CIS COUNTRIES
The Foundation continues to actively support and develop joint competitions with CIS countries.
In the framework of these competitions projects of initiative research conducted by Russian scientists together with colleagues from Belorussia (140 projects), Moldova (44 projects), Ukraine (63 projects), and Uzbekistan (22 projects) have received support. The Foundation Board approved RFBR activity in the framework of membership in the International Association of Academies of Science (IAAS) and noted the high importance of developing cooperation between RFBR and organisations-members of IAAS.
A trilateral competition for research projects directed towards overcoming the consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe has been held by RFBR together with Belorussian republican foundation for basic research and the Ukrainian State Foundation for basic research.
In addition to active connections with CIS partners talks are being conducted on holding competitions by the academies of science of the Republic of Tajikistan and the Azerbaijan Republic, and also the Republic of Armenia and the Kyrgyz Republic.
RFBR INFORMATION ACTIVITY
For many years RFBR has been working on providing scientists with access to the most current information and allowing them to publish the results of their research in authoritative publications.
The information activity of RFBR is conducted via:
- RFBR official website (www.rfbr.ru);
- the Foundation electronic scientific library with an access to electronic scientific information resources of leading foreign publishers;
- RFBR database of results of research and grant holders' publications over many years;
- electronic system of informational and organisational support “Grant-Express”;
- the Foundation's own publications: RFBR Journal, RBRF Information Bulletin, collections of popular science articles, bibliographic справочники and collections of annotated reports on RFBR projects;
- a system for monitoring the scientific community.
RFBR regularly organises workshops on the subject “Results of fundamental research for investment”.
The Foundation organises the following competitions:
- a competition for publishing monographs, collections of articles, and also translations of foreign authors;
Within the framework of the competition for publishing projects over ten years (1995 — 2009) 9640 applications were received, over 4000 publishing projects were supported, and about 3300 were published.
- competition for writing analytical reports on results of fundamental scientific research;
- competition for popular science articles.