Alexander Fertman, director of science of the Nuclear technologies cluster talks about main events of 2012, which have opened very interesting and truly unlimited perspectives for development.
The Sk.ru correspondent met Alexander to hear about most important, from his viewpoint events of the past year, as well as about perspectives of development of nuclear technologies for the nearest future. But the conversation extended far beyond the limits of a typical “annual report” story. And it should be surely interesting to all, who cares about contemporary state of the art science.
Q: Alexander, you have placed as the number one event of the past year preparation and presentation of the report Radiation Technologies, Changing the character of industries and quality of life”. How would you explain your choice?
“First of all one should understand that radiation technologies aren’t a separate industry. They are being introduced into a wide spectrum of different industries. For example, we use radiation when we need to pass a baggage inspection in airport when boarding plane, in manufacturing to control quality and working sustainability of different systems, and so on.
Technological analysis of opportunities of different application of ionized radiation in different businesses has been done already, three years before us. It was done under an order of DOE (the US Ministry of Energy). And they did it quite well, I have to say.
But we have picked slightly different goal for ourselves. We decided to focus on commercial potential of those technologies, on trends of developments of their commercial industrial applications. And we estimated that radiation technologies applications market grows three times faster than the nuclear power industry. And this dynamic was visible yet before the Fukushima catastrophe.
It was important for us to prepare the analytical material in such a way so that it can explain both to the state and to investors, why is it important to invest into the radiation technologies, particularly as it is a technological material for different industries. And as a result we managed to get attention, so we reached our, so to say, basic goal.
Besides, it was very important for the Cluster on the very initial stage to establish a dialog with professional community. And this report, in fact, became Cluster’s official position, which we communicate to the professional community. It communicates our vision of development of radiation technologies. And it was absolutely essential to do this to start the dialog. And the fact that today from corporative R&D centers to Rosatom and IAEA - everywhere they study this scientific report says that we’ve reached the goal”.
And then, at the end of September there was a scientific conference held in St. Petersburg, why was it meaningful?
A Fertman: “All professional community was brought to this conference, where we made our next important step ahead, towards global technological chains. An analysis of the projects (and now there are more than 70 residents in the Nuclear cluster) shows that just seven of our residents have real potential for autonomous commercialization on the market.
It means that technical solutions of absolute majority of Skolkovo Nuclear cluster residents are just a part, an element of a final solution and product. Another words, all of them are in B2B segment. In this situation in order to reach success companies will have to sell licenses.
Manufacturing of “hardware” is a long and capital intensive process for small businesses, although it’s often quite difficult to make research without prototypes. And a logical move in order to sell licenses is to incorporate themselves into one or another global technological chain, starting negotiations with global leaders already on the stage of elaboration of technologies.
And I can say it right away that we can’t see, unfortunately, any Russian company, which works in the sphere of radiation technologies, and which we can be incorporated into with our R&Ds. Rosatom is certainly trying to do something, but they find themselves in the very beginning of this way.
And at that conference we invited reps of major global corporations, such as GE, Siemens, Phillips, Varian, other world leaders. Representatives of these companies discussed together, sitting at one table their plans for technological developments.
And it’s quite unusual by itself, as these companies are competing with each other. Moreover, we managed to establish cooperation within the framework of incorporation into their technological chains. And it allows us to build a road map for this direction. And we have a concrete and quite serious result with the US company Varian. It’s a very important player: more than half of the world market of medical therapeutic atomic accelerators, used for oncological diseases among other, are made by Varian.
And our next step will be already announced in 2013 together with Varian and sponsored by it contest of R&D projects. And this is already not just a road map, we are talking about creation of concrete projects here. And let me open a small secret: to achieve this goal, as a result of half a year negotiations, we got their permission to study a production map of this company. With detailed accuracy they demonstrated us opportunities to get involved, disclosing their current jobs and what is precisely their current need in innovations.