Friday, June 4, 2010

Romania calls on private sector to help boost R&D

Published on EurActiv (
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Published: 03 June 2010

Romania has decided that its national target for boosting research and development will be 2% by 2020, but to reach this goal, the private sector would have to increase its financial effort six or seven-fold compared to current levels. EurActiv Romania reports.

Raising investment in R&D to 3% of the EU’s GDP is one of the five priorities of a draft ten-year economic plan unveiled by the European Commission in March, called 'Europe 2020' (EurActiv 03/03/10).

The strategy defines five headline targets at EU level, which member states will be asked to translate into national goals reflecting their differing starting points:
Raising the employment rate of the population aged 20-64 from the current 69% to 75%.
Raising the investment in R&D to 3% of the EU's GDP.
Meeting the EU's '20/20/20' objectives on greenhouse gas emission reduction and renewable energies.
Reducing the share of early school leavers from the current 15% to under 10% and making sure that at least 40% of youngsters have a degree or diploma.
Reducing the number of Europeans living below the poverty line by 25%, lifting 20 million out of poverty from the current 80 million.

In a series of articles, the EurActiv network will present the state of play in individual EU countries on each of the targets. This series looks at how member states react to the 3% R&D target.

The EurActiv network already found that Eastern EU countries have either rejected or dismissed as irrelevant the planned EU target to reduce poverty (EurActiv 06/05/10).

After Romanian President Traian Basescu declared in late April that Romania would not be able to attain the target of spending 3% of GDP on R&D by 2020, which is set out in the EU's new 'Europe 2020' strategy, the Romanian authorities came up with a more "realistic" figure of 2%.

‘"We cannot reach the 3% of GDP allocation objective for research and development and we'll have to establish what number is possible at national level. Even though it wouldn't be a problem for the government to allocate 1%, for the private sector to allocate 2% would be difficult. And even if we were to find resources for 3%, what is our research infrastructure like? Is our research capable of bringing out results in time?"

These were the words of President Basescu in late April (EurActiv 27/04/10).

More recently, Dragos Ciuparu, vice-president of the National Authority for Scientific Research (ANCS), said that the Europe 2020 strategy links research closely to innovation.

Ciuparu said a realistic budgetary allocation target would be 2% of GDP by 2020 for research, development and innovation. This figure is halfway between a pessimistic scenario, with an allocation of 1.8%, and an optimistic one with 2.2%, he stated.

Rolanda Predescu, a director at ANCS, confirmed that "the 3% target is especially ambitious and we would have liked to have it, but it is impossible in the budgetary conditions".

She says that the realistic figure of 2% was the result of an analysis by the government's secretariat and ministries. To achieve this target, Romania will need to constantly increase its annual allocations for innovation.

The private sector will have to increase allocations for R&D six or seven-fold compared to current levels, she said.

Predescu also said that in 2008, the resources allocated to R&D in the EU were at the level of 1.9% of GDP, while in 2009 this increased to 2.06%. "Romania will reach today's average EU level in 2020," she predicted.

On the other hand, Predescu signalled that Romania employs only a third of the average number of researchers in other EU member states.

ANCS Vice-President Ciuparu was also sceptical, asking the question: "A 2.2% increase scenario would mean 3,000 more researchers per year. Where are we going to get them from?"

Predescu spoke about the need for incentives to boost research and better use of EU funding.

At present, Romania particpates in 249 programmes from the EU's Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7), in 16 projects under the ERA-NET scheme and in nine under ESFRI, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures projects, as well as in five JTIs (Joint Technology Initiatives) and ten international research bodies, including CERN.

Romania also has the ambition of joining seven European joint programmes in the fields of health, agriculture, climate change, water management, cultural heritage and 'Urban Europe'.

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