Labs to be powerful research units

VietNamNet Bridge – Permanent Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Quan spoke to a Vietnam News Agency reporter about solutions to develop key laboratories.

How effective have the key laboratories been over the past 10 years?

The national key laboratory system consists of a series of science and technology institutes that are funded by the Government. They are expected to become powerful research units that will direct us how to apply and develop technology in the country.

Consulting councils have been established in 15 of the 17 key laboratories nationwide.

Over the past 10 years, research into bio-technology, materials and welding among others has significantly contributed to the domestic industry.

The laboratories have also been used to create new materials under high voltage conditions and to identify the remains of war martyrs.

How much money has been invested in the laboratories?

About US$3-5 million has been invested into each laboratory since 2000. Exceptionally, it costs up to $8 million to build a ship-model-experiment-tank, proving how seriously the Party, State and Government are taking these activities.

However, more investment is needed to keep up with the development of global science and technology, given that Viet Nam is now a middle-income country with a per capita income of over $1,000.

The Ministry of Science and Technology will ask the Government for additional investment in the near future.

What reasons have been given for the shortcomings of the ministry's research operation?

Management and finance mechanisms have been blamed for shortcomings in research at key laboratories.

Firstly, a number of sponsors failed to meet commitments they had previously made with regards to infrastructure and manpower for the key laboratories.

Secondly, the Ministry of Planning and Investment instead of the Ministry of Science and Technology was in charge of project at the investment stage, so the latter was unable to monitor investment activities.

The laboratories have operated under a financially independent mechanism that sometimes causes difficulties in terms of securing a steady capital source.

The Ministry of Science and Technology has asked the ministries of Home Affairs and Finance for funding to maintain the stable operation of laboratories.

Have you got any suggestions about how to improve the operation of key laboratories so they can make a breakthrough in the development of Viet Nam's science and technology?

The State should continue to invest in the laboratories and closely inspect their activities. Consulting councils should help laboratories set clear orientations in their operation and ensure they stick to them.

Key laboratories should improve and take responsibility for their activities. They are encouraged to generate their own funding via service activities.

How does the legal system impact on activities at the key laboratories?

The legal document system guarantees the use and operational effectiveness of equipment which the State has provided to the laboratories.

The system provides scientists with a stable income and a standard working environment. It also ensures the laboratories run in line with their designated orientations.

How are staff at the laboratories educated?

Most staff are trained in scientific research and technology development.

In addition, many of them have worked at universities and institutes, and have therefore received both domestic and international training through State scholarships and foreign organisations.

VietNamNet/Viet Nam News