The Slovenia Times

Academia, business and govt sign deal to boost innovation

EconomyScience & Technology

The government, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) and education and research institutions have agreed to enter strategic cooperation to bring about an innovation breakthrough in the country to increase value added it generates.

Prime Minister Robert Golob, GZS president Tibor Šimonka, University of Ljubljana rector and head of the Slovenian Rectors' Conference Gregor Majdič, and the director of the National Institute of Chemistry and head of the Coordination of Independent Institutes Gregor Anderluh signed the agreement, called For a Smart, Sustainable and Competitive Slovenia, at an event at the GZS on 18 April.

The strategic objectives set out include increasing total public and private spending on science, research, development and innovation to at least 2.8% of GDP by 2027, with public spending reaching at least 1% of GDP and private spending at least 1.8% of GDP, with a view to a further increase after 2027.

The goals also include improving the research, innovation and business environment, cutting red tape, and securing tax relief for R&D.

The partners pledge to give more focus on the training of top-tier staff to enable the expansion of research, development and innovation at universities and research institutions with stable funding, as well as in business and public administration.

They promise to strengthen the implementation of strategic documents in R&D and to co-finance the establishment of pilot centres and demonstration facilities, as well as to accelerate the integration of research organisations, the higher education system and the economy.

More funding is promised for the new Agency for Scientific Research and Innovation. A special fund and other mechanisms to finance all development stages at innovative companies are planned as well.

Šimonka said innovation was the key to increasing added value in the economy. The partners believe the average value added can be raised from the current €58,000 to €88,000 by 2030. To achieve this, investment in R&D must be stepped up and the interests of all stakeholders must be aligned.

Šimonka is confident the specific goals listed will prevent the agreement from being dead ink on paper, and Golob pointed to election promises that hailed added value as the only path towards more prosperity. He sees the agreement as the first step in politics joining the other three segments of society on this journey.

He is pleased that the ambition to increase added value is coming from businesses, and he believes even €100,000 is not out of reach.

Rector Majdič argued universities should be integrated into the environment, both domestic and international, and should guide the development of the country and the economy.

The challenges that lie ahead, such as the green transition, digitisation, robotics and AI, can only be met and turned to advantage with knowledge and a multidisciplinary approach. This is where universities have a role to play, the rector said.

Anderluh sees the agreement as an important step for the country and as an expression of the realisation that strengthening cooperation is essential for development. This process, he said, will take time, as Slovenia will only reap the fruits years from now.


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