Last week, we as Geothermal Anywhere, attended the Innovation Policy and Technology Transfer Conference in Bratislava. The discussion was about research, development and innovations in our country. The event was organized by American Chamber of Commerce in Slovakia, the Government Office of the Slovak Republic and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic.
I do not want to write any detailed reports, those you can find as links at the end of this post. I want to point out several remarks that are typical for governments in Central Europe, in particular for the Slovak one. My comments can be interesting especially for our fans from Slovakia.
My first impression was the difference between most of the US and Slovak speakers. It was also mentioned at the end of conference that in Slovakia, we are very good in problem defining, while Americans are oriented towards problems solving. Very simple, but very unflattering statement for our government. For R&D and Innovation segments definitely.
Second, a symptomatic factor for all similar conferences is that all real decision makers – responsible Ministers – were just participating in their initial panel, presenting their success story and mentioning a lot of problems that have to be solved (and were not solved during 3,5 years of their government). The subsequent discussion with rectors of leading universities, prominent international guests and top governmental officials, full of good advises, criticism and success stories, was without the presence of the ministers. I know that their agenda is overfilled, but without qualified feedbacks you cannot make qualified decisions. And the result of the discussion was – very limited feedback.
Slovak government undertook an obligation to reach research and development expenses at 1,8% of GDP. In 2007 and 2008 this percentage dropped below 0,5%, one of the lowest in EU. Thanks to Structural funds this number is higher now, but this is only temporary.
And support of high-technology small and medium companies and innovative leaders in top regions is very limited and if there is some, then it is extremely bureaucratic. Conditions like refund character of research projects, their delays in every stage of project implementation and main focus on project inputs (reports, statements, procurement, accounting) not outputs (technology, competitiveness) makes the efficiency of these investments even lower.
What we are missing are real long term priorities. We hope that the new government’s approach will take this issue seriously, because without a competitive economy any country will sooner or later turn into one cheap manufacturing factory. And I think this is not a target of any government in EU. The worse thing is that most of the results of the government’s investments in R&D are visible only in the next term of office.
Igor Kosic, CEO at Geothermal Anywhere
Photos (source: AmCham Slovakia):
- No.1: Mr. Dusan Caplovic (left), vice-PM of Slovakia responsible for knowledge society, and Mr. Jan Mikolaj (right) vice-PM of Slovakia and the Minister of Education
- No.2: Mr. Igor Kocis, CEO at Geothermal Anywhere
- No.3: Mr. Tomas Kristofic, Project Leader at Geothermal Anywhere