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Brussels, 6 August 1998

Science and Technology Centres in Russia and Ukraine

The primary aim of the Science and Technology Centres is to help to redirect the talents of scientists from the New Independent States (NIS) who have been associated with the development of weapons of mass destruction to peaceful purposes and integrate them into the international scientific community. This also helps the integration of NIS scientist into the international scientific community. Since its official start in March 1994, the International Science and Technology Centre (ISTC) in Moscow has approved more than 590 projects with a value of nearly ECU 160 million providing support to some 20,000 scientists and engineers in the Russian Federation, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The European Union (EU) has been part of the ISTC agreement since this came into force. EU funding of projects for the Science and Technology Centre in Ukraine (STCU) has been set at ECU 3 million in anticipation of the EU shortly acceding to that Centre. Since its official start in 1995, the STCU in Kiev has already approved some 133 projects totalling ECU 17 million and supporting some 2 300 scientists and engineers in Ukraine.

History of the ISTC and the STCU

The International Science and Technology Centre (ISTC) in Moscow was set up by an international agreement between the European Union, the United States, Japan, and the Russian Federation. It is mainly financed by the European Union, the US, and Japan and came into force in March 1994. The ISTC Agreement also allows for the accession of other New Independent States (NIS). To date, Georgia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have joined the ISTC.

The EU asked the Ukraine to accede to the ISTC. Ukraine preferred for political reasons, to set up the Science and Technology Centre of Ukraine (STCU) together with the United States, Canada and Sweden. It became operational at the end of 1995. From 1995 to 1997, some 133 projects totalling ECU 17 million have been financed, selected among some 340 applications. Following a second call for proposals some 1000 applications have been received. In view of these achievements, the Commission received in May 1997 the mandate from the Council to negotiate accession to the STCU, and is currently concluding the procedures for accession to the Agreement establishing the STCU, with Council and Parliament. The EU first contribution will amount to ECU 3 million as approved on 22 July, 1998.


The ISTC and the STCU both have as their purpose the achievement of non-proliferation through science co-operation and support for a transition to a market economy. The principal objectives are the following:

  • To give weapons scientists and engineers, particularly those with knowledge and skills related to weapons of mass destruction (nuclear as well as biological and chemical weapons) or missile delivery systems, the opportunity to redirect their talents towards peaceful activities;
  • To help with the transition of the NIS towards a market-based economy responsive to civil needs;
  • To support basic and applied research and technological development for peaceful purposes;
  • To promote the further integration of scientists and engineers from Russia and other NIS into the international scientific community;
  • To contribute to solving national and international technical problems, requiring sophisticated research and the pooling of intellectual resources.

    Main Activities

    The ISTC and the STCU are intended to redirect towards civilian activities the expertise of scientists who formerly developed weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological and chemical) or their delivery systems. The ISTC and STCU fund only projects which are clearly identifiable to have peaceful applications, e.g. environmental protection, energy production and nuclear safety, among others. Each Centre promotes the development of projects, provides financial support, monitors and audits these projects. Project proposals are submitted to the Secretariat with the concurrence of the host government. After an eligibility check, the Secretariat transmits them to the Funding Parties who select the Projects they wish to support. For the EU this selection process is performed by the European Commission, in close co-operation with the Member-States, and, in the case of the ISTC, based on advice of a Scientific Advisory Committee. Funding decisions are then approved by a meeting of the Governing Board.

    A Centre also acts as a clearing-house for projects by matching scientists and engineers with appropriate funding resources and other partners, including, industrial interests. Other activities include organisation of scientific seminars and symposia in selected institutes in the NIS, with the participation of western scientists and experts, travel grants for NIS scientists to put them in contact with colleagues in western countries for developing joint project proposals. Each Centre also organises project management training for NIS scientists (directly done by e.g. ISTC staff) and acts to support the continued implementation of a database system. Each of the Centres maintains its own site on the World-Wide Web.


    Altogether the ISTC board has approved, as of July 1998, 593 projects of an overall value of ECU 160 million, providing support to some 20,000 scientists and engineers in the Russian Federation, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The first two-year review of 1996 concluded that ISTC projects contribute significantly to the conversion of military research institutes to peaceful applications, help stabilise the material situation of weapons' scientists and allow their integration into the wider scientific community. The Centre continues to receive new project proposals at a steady rate of about 300 per year. The quality and relevance of the proposals is steadily improving as a results of experience gained in the first four years by the Secretariat, as well as by the research institutions and authors of the proposals.

    Project Examples:

    • Concentrated turbulent air in the form of aircraft wake vortices poses a serious threat to trailing aircraft, which dictates large separation distances between commercial aircraft at landing and take off. ISTC funding engages 50 experts from TsAGI near Moscow in developing on-board vortex wake detection systems which can provide pilots with urgent and timely information to avoid accidents. Airbus Industries and Boeing are collaborating with TsAGI on this project.
    • In recent years there has been a significant rise of terrorist acts using easily concealed, high explosive materials. Traditional detection methods using x-ray television installations, gas analysers, canine or human inspections have their shortcomings. With ISTC project funding the All Russian Research Institute of Automatics in Moscow has developed a prototype explosives detector using layers of detection technologies. At a throughput of 600 suitcases per hour, the prototype can detect explosives with a 95% certainty with false-alarm probability below 5%. It is sensitive enough to detect a mere 300 grams of explosive inside a suitcase weighing 50 kgs.
    • Measles dominates among the droplet infections in many countries. One measure in the struggle against the measles is the immunisation of populations sensitive to this infection. NPO Vector (Novosibirsk) has been addressing this important public health issue through its work on the development of a live, orally-administered vaccine. The first stage of the ISTC project involved the monitoring of optimal cultivation conditions for the measles vaccine strain L-16. Then optimal basic composition of the protective medium for stabilising the live measles vaccine (LMV) was determined. Following this step, nine laboratory experimental batches of the LMV tablet form (200 pieces in each batch) were produced using the optimal composition of stabilisers and fillers. As a result of the studies performed, the LMV for oral administration causes the stimulation of humoral and cellular immunity in the majority of the laboratory animals.

      Industrial Partnership in Research with NIS Institutions

      In addition to the continuing ISTC activities, the Parties have now set up the ISTC Partnering Programme. The advantages for partners are many. A unique channel is available into a challenging and know-how rich environment of the former Soviet Union's R&D community.

      R&D co-operation is facilitated in the NIS through the following: exemption from tax and customs duties; procurement of in-country ISTC project management infrastructure and the ISTC Secretariat's administrative services (e.g. visa and equipment procurement, customs clearance, direct payment to scientists working on the project, financial auditing, technical monitoring, etc.). In a year since establishing the program, the ISTC now has welcomed 29 Partners from Europe, Japan and the United States who have provided nearly $5 million dollars in project funding.

      A similar Partnering Programme has been set up by the STCU.

      EU Support for the ISTC and STCU

      Since its official start in March 1994, the ISTC has received ECU 62 million for 302 projects through the EU's Tacis programme. In 1998, the European Commission has approved an additional ECU 17 million. It is intended to utilise these funds to finance project activities in applied research and technology development, inter alia, in the field of environmental protection, energy production and nuclear safety. It is expected that the amount of ECU 17 million could be fully committed by March 1999. An estimated ECU 13.5 million will be available for project financing, while an estimated 3.5 is reserved for overheads. This includes foremost expenses for staff seconded by the EU, expenses for the Centre's operating costs and those for technical assistance service.

      The EU's contribution to the STCU will amount to ECU 3 million as approved on 22 July 1998.

      Who can participate?

      Any individual, institution, government, inter-governmental or non-governmental organisation from any of the founding member countries and the New Independent States may submit project proposals. However, the project must involve a significant number of weapons scientists and the funding is largely used to pay their salaries. Although direct co-operation of western operators in ISTC projects is encouraged, there is no funding available to finance their collaboration. Projects are accepted by the ISTC Secretariat in Moscow for evaluation by the funding Parties only with the concurrence of the host government.

      How to apply?

      Requests and proposals should be addressed to the Centres. Proposals must be prepared according to the "Instructions for proposal preparation" available from the Centre and addressed to the Executive Director at the secretariat in Moscow. The Executive Director must obtain the approval of the NIS in which the work is being carried out before transmitting the proposal to the Governing Board, which is the decision-making body of the ISTC. The Board takes the final decision as to whether to support the project. It meets at least three times a year to review project proposals. Projects may be financed by one or more parties as well as by any other entities, which have shown an interest in funding them.

      Contacts and addresses

      For more information please use the contact addresses provided below and/or consult the following websites:

      International Science and Technology Centre Ul. Luganskaia, 9 PO Box 25 115516 Moscow The Russian Federation Tel (+7-095) 321 46 65 Fax (+7-095) 321 47 44 Web: e-mail: 

      Science and Technology Centre of the Ukraine Laboratony Provulok 3 252113 Kiev Ukraine Tel (+380-44) 227 8150 Fax (+380-44) 227 8156 Web: e-mail:

      ISTC & STCU Contact at the European Commission Dr Didier Gambier 200, rue de la Loi Office: SDME 1/61 B-1049 Brussels, Belgium Tel (+322) 295 57 47 Fax (+322) 296 92 27 e-mail:

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