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Slovenia Business Week no. 19: State Wants to Induce Young to Help Economy Through Innovation

The state is intent on encouraging young people to make innovations because that is what it pays most

The state is intent on encouraging young people to make innovations because that is what it pays most, an official said on Tuesday, 15 May at an event aimed at promoting innovation.

The conference, sponsored by the Slovenian Technology Agency in cooperation with the ministries of education, defence and economy, established that the economy was bound to lose its competitive edge without innovation. All participants were keen to hear the government's plans in this respect.

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Jure Zupan said the ministry had made it its goal to add 70 junior researches in industry to the national research programme every year until 2010. According to him, these are researchers who are employed in companies, while the ministry funds them for four years and a half.

The minister was nevertheless surprised over the low number of applications for this scheme. A total of about 100 companies apply for junior researchers a year. According to Janez Hafner of the Technology Agency, some EUR 81m will be earmarked for junior researchers until 2013.

This year the bulk of funds will be spent on the Defence Ministry's call for project applications. The call, a part of the "Technology for Peace" project, has already been published, while another is to follow at the end of the year, each worth around EUR 9.5m, according to Hafner.

Until 2013 an additional EUR 24m will be allocated for research and development projects. The Technology Agency also invests in technological platforms along with the Economy Ministry and the Chamber of Commerce, while its contribution is lesser at EUR 146,000.

Yet apart from funding research, the state could play a more important role in intervening between innovators and companies, Zupan suggested, saying the main problem was how to market innovations. "Innovation itself represents but a tenth of the product's value."

An important generator of technological development is the Defence Ministry, according to Minister Karl Erjavec. He said that his department's contribution to R&D was the highest among its counterparts in Europe, as much as 6% of the budget.

According to Erjavec, the potential of the defence system in this respect has been neglected, but the ministry will be steadily increasing its budget and in this way also funds for R&D. These amounted to some EUR 25m last year. "We would like these funds to be spent appropriately."

Source: Slovenian Press Agency STA

Author: STA, Slovenian National Press Agency