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Ukraine ‘needs R&D support for all areas of society’

Image: EU Science & Innovation [CC BY-ND 2.0], via Flickr

RI Days: Ukrainian diplomat says help with research and innovation feeds into all sectors

Ukraine’s research and innovation sector needs support to help not only the sector itself but all areas of the nation’s society withstand Russia’s onslaught, a representative of the country has told the EU.

Since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine a little over two years ago, more than 1,400 scientific buildings in the besieged country have been damaged or destroyed and 12 per cent of researchers have relocated, according to a recent report from the UN’s education and science agency.

But support from the EU and elsewhere for Ukrainian R&I assists the country beyond the hosting of its researchers and restoration of its buildings, Serhii Tereshko, deputy head of the Ukraine mission to the EU, said at the European Commission’s Research and Innovation Days conference in Brussels on 21 March.

“This war requires from Ukraine permanent and daily development of the defensive and resilience capability,” said Tereshko (pictured left). “Not only the hard security, like weaponry, but also initiatives in the sphere of cybersecurity, health, digital, energy. In fact every sector now requires new solutions.”

Ukraine is working towards joining the EU, and Tereshko said it is seeking to “build back better” in reconstructing its damaged and destroyed infrastructure, meaning it is aiming to meet forward-looking EU standards in areas like sustainable construction.

“These factors require investments in construction and in R&D,” Tereshko said.

Must-win and win-win

Moderating the session, the deputy head of the Commission’s R&I department, Signe Ratso (pictured right), described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an “unjust and unprovoked war”. She said the country’s R&I sector had been “incredibly resilient” but that even so the EU needs to “mobilise all our support” to help the country “win that war”.

This sentiment was echoed by Ewa Kocińska-Lange (pictured second from right), director of the Brussels office of Poland’s National Centre for Research and Development. She added that, nonetheless, EU support for Ukraine should be designed to be a “win-win” for both the country and its supporters.

In this vein, the German MEP Viola von Cramon-Taubadel said via video link that the EU “can learn from Ukraine” in supporting the country.

Students from Ukraine who have travelled to Germany to study have been found to be advanced in their learning, she said, indicating that their presence can bring benefits to their hosts as well as to themselves.

Kocińska-Lange said supporting countries must work with researchers in Ukraine and the country’s government as much as possible, to ensure the help they provide is really what the country needs.

A version of this article also appeared in Research Europe