Analysts: Lithuania makes only modest use of science and innovation financing

Only 0.08% of GDP or 32 million euro – this is the financing Lithuania has managed to obtain over almost four years since the start of the programme Horizon 2020 intended to encourage scientific research and innovation. With only a little more than 3 years left to the conclusion of the programme, Research and Higher Education Monitoring and Analysis Centre (MOSTA) analysts doubt whether Lithuania will manage to improve its programme participation results by any significant measure and thus increase the country’s competitiveness, a MOSTA release states, writes.

Lithuania remains one of the EU countries receiving the least Horizon 2020 funding. Based on absolute financing (32 million euro), Lithuania is second last, with only Malta receiving lesser financing. Based on the GDP percentage of financing, Lithuania is third last, receiving 0.08% of GDP in financing. Lithuania only exceeds Poland and Romania in this regard.

Research and Higher Education Monitoring and Analysis Centre (MOSTA) science policy analyst Kristina Masevičiūtė states that the Lithuanian metrics of participation in the largest EU scientific research and innovation financing programme are a good indicator of the country’s research quality and international scope.

“This programme is prestigious and the competition for financing is massive. Thus considering the programme requirements and massive competition, becoming a partner in the project can be seen as a significant mark of recognition of scientific activity. On the EU scale, only 14% of projects obtain financing. Lithuania’s result in terms of this metric is more modest – almost 12%,” K. Masevičiūtė stated.

According to K. Masevičiūtė, the impact of investment into scientific research and innovation infrastructure from the 2007-2013 EU structural fund investment period is limited.

“From 2010 when the largest in Lithuanian history investment in science, technology and innovation creation and improvement flow began, work conditions, opportunities to perform high level research, interact with business and international partners improved for most researchers. The material basis for scientific activity reaching international scope and increasing the country’s economic competitiveness were created, however bar several exceptions, so far no tangible effect can be seen,” she stated.

Based on the ratio of requested and granted funding Lithuania exceeds only two EU countries. The average funding granted by the European Commission is only a little more than 7%. Based on funding per participant Lithuania comes last among EU countries. K. Masevičiūtė believes this could be due to several reasons.

“Firstly we can note that in Lithuania we frequently work on topics that are not very relevant on the international scale. Second, compared with international standards, the scope of our projects are fairly limited. Finally the wages of Lithuanian scientists are significantly lower than in other EU states, thus when financing projects, lower costs are applied to Lithuania,” the analyst notes.

The result monitoring also reveals two positive shifts. Compared with the previously performed 7th Common Scientific Research Programme, the number of coordinated projects in Lithuania rose from 10 to 22.6%. “Based on this metric Lithuania has risen from being last to exceeding 9 countries. This shows that Lithuania is taking leadership, initiating the implementation of new ideas and is gathering a network of partners,” K. Masevičiūtė said. Lithuanian coordinators make up 18.4% of all Lithuanian participants, they receive 30.7% of the EU funding. For comparison the EU averages in these metrics are respectively 24 and 43.2%.

The analyst finds that major strides have also been made in the involvement of small and medium enterprise in the programme.

“Small and medium enterprise receive a third of the funding Lithuania receives and this is the best results in the EU. We can make the assumption that the programmes which seek to aid companies in receiving financing for scientific research and innovation implementation have yielded positive results,” K. Masevičiūtė states.

The scientific research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 so far has had 228 partners from Lithuania who have performed or are performing 191 projects. Horizon 2020 is the largest EU scientific research and innovation programme. Over seven years the programme has been granted near 77 billion euro EU public funding.

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