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Conference reviewing 2012 and direction of operations in 2013

On 07/1/2013, in Hanoi, the NAFOSTED held a conference to review 2012 and present work plan for 2013. Those attending the meeting were Dr. Le Dinh Tien, Vice Minister of Science and Technology, the members of the Board of Trustees, representatives of various units of the Ministry of Science and Technology and all officers of the NAFOSTED.

At the conference, Dr. Do Tien Dung, Director of the Executive Office presented the report on the Foundation’s activities in 2012, highlighting the results achieved and points to overcome in the future.
In 2012, funding activities in basic research have attracted increasing number of applications, compared with the previous year: 387 applications in Natural Science, 141 in Social Science and Humanities. In the first final assessment of 165 projects in Natural Science, 90% of the projects have acquired their targets. Some projects got extended as they’re likely to complete the research results as registered (6 projects were extended, 04 projects didn’t passed). Total ISI publications recognized by the Scientific Committees, which were the result of funded projects, were 692, at the rate of 4.4 articles /projects, with 401 ISI publications in 2012.

Dr. Do tien Dung presented the report

In Social Science and Humanities, the NAFOSTED has reviewed the projects budget and signed contracts with funded projects that started in 2012. The Board of Trustees has signed the decision to approve the list of 95 projects to be funded from 2013. The projects started from previous years were generally implemented as scheduled, while ensuring the professional quality as required in the application.
In bilateral cooperation activities, the projects under the co-funding program phase I (2009-2012) between NAFOSTED and FWO (Belgium) were generally completed with outstanding results. Continuing the success of phase I, the NAFOSTED and FWO have signed a MOU for phase II (2012-2016).
In addition, the Foundation kept on international cooperation activities with established partners and built new relationship with other organizations in order to increase the resource for Vietnamese scientists and capacity building support for NAFOSTED.

Besides funding activities, NAFOSTED has continued to expand the funding programs. In 2012, the Foundation has opened the loan program using the capital of the Foundation to support projects in science and technology. It also managed the loan guarantees for energy efficiency and saving projects in SMEs with funding from the Fund of Global Environment.
From September 2012, , the Foundation announced the call for proposals for the Enterprise Support Program under the Decree No. 119/1999/ND-CP of the Government dated 09/18/1999 for funding in 2013.

Reviewing the results of the 2012, Mr. Do Tien Dung emphasized that the Foundation has been improving the mechanisms of working towards scientific research quality and efficiency, with focus on the quality of Scientific Committees and reviewers in the evaluation process. The results showed that the basic research projects funded by NAFOSTED have achieved great results, approaching international standards. In 2012, international publications in ISI-covered journals reached over 400, increasing more than 30% compared to 2011. Statistics showed that the number of applications increased in a sustainable way, with their quality being more even. The data also reflected the development of the participating forces in basic research, especially from the South (from 5% in 2009 to 20% in 2012). The number of young scientists as Principle Investigators of funded projects also increased rapidly, over 60% of them were under the age of 40 (compared to about 5% in 2009). The Foundation also made funding activities transparent through the disclosure of information (about funding programs, the list of funded projects and final evaluation of scientific and technological tasks) and the propagation of the financial activities assistance. In 2012, NAFOSTED strived to improve the quality of its work by planning, process and computerization in management and administration. Moreover, it continued to gather extra-budgetary resources and the social investment and international support for development in science and technology. The Foundation has expanded its funding programs by opening the loan program to support scientific and technology projects, as well as implementing the enterprise support program for scientific and technological research. In addition to funding from the state budget, the Foundation has been able to initially gather extra-budgetary resources in order to diversify capital sources for investment in S&T.

Despite initial results in the development of quality of scientific research and human resources in science and technology, there are still many challenges for NAFOSTED in the implementation and development of new models for funding agency and S&T support activities. Its operations and disbursement for research projects should be enhanced (contract signing and disbursement of some projects were delayed). Besides the improvement of the quality and output of the projects, the Foundation should accelerate the monitoring process to ensure the progress of the projects. About the operation mechanism and management regulations, all results of NAFOSTED’s activities should be reviewed to update in a timely manner, in order to carry out the assigned duties and functions in an adequate and effective way.

Speaking at the conference, many participants appreciated the results achieved by the Foundation, its website were developed to a great extent with wide-ranging database, a online management system (OMS) helped make administrative procedures transparent and facilitate the interaction of the scientists with the Foundation. The participants also thought that an in-depth propaganda to promote information was necessary to attract Vietnamese scientists from abroad.

Mr. Le Dinh Tien, Vice-Minister of Science and Technology

At the conference, Mr. Le Dinh Tien, Vice Minister of Science and Technology, Chairman of the Board of Trustees praised the Foundation’s achievements in the previous year. However, the Foundation should continue to strengthen and complete its organization, support capacity building for young staff; actively cooperate with the press and media to promote its activities; and build up the documents and procedures to expand the funding programs. He also directed that the NAFOSTED should be more proactive in the planning to disburse funding to the projects so that they could be deployed in time and as scheduled.