SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Between June 2008 and March 2011 I was appointed as the Minister of science and technological development in the Government of the Republic of Serbia. In the first week of my mandate I invited the top 300 people in the area of science and technology to discuss which key steps need to be taken in the next period. In the same sentiment of open discussion the next two and a half years of my mandate went by. Through many consultations with our scientific community, and with the help of my team formed by experts from various fields of basic and applied science, we were able to accomplish great results in a relatively short amount of time. We started by putting in place a strategic and legal framework for science. The next priority was to obtain additional resources for key investments in science and technology infrastructure. Finally, we launched the biggest ever call for proposals for research grants in Serbia. In parallel, we dealt successfully with the transport of spent nuclear fuel which was located in Vinca for the last 26 years, improved the regulatory framework for intellectual property and increased international cooperation with the leading scientific countries and institutions.
What I am most proud of is the fact that in this time period the significant increase in the number of internationally recognized publications by our scientists continued. This was the reason why Thompson Reuters declared Serbia as a “rising science star” as our citation index grew fastest in 11 out of 22 disciplines.
Science and innovation are recognized in the world as the drivers of modern societies. The European Commission declared “smart growth” as one of the four pillars in the Europe 2020 strategy. This is also reflected in the proposed 60% increase in R&D investments in the 2014-2020 European financial perspective despite the economic crisis that has hit Europe and the rest of the world. In the same way, more significant investments in our researchers and technological companies is the only chance for Serbia to orient itself as a knowledge based economy in the 21st century. Instead of smart people, we need to start exporting smart products.
We are still far away from achieving this goal. As some of the key steps I would mention further reform of universities, increasing mobility within the system (between institutes and faculties), increasing R&D expenditures, simpler procedures for validating degrees obtained abroad and further integration into the international scientific community. Bringing science and industry closer together remains one of the most important topics and this should be accomplished by improving technology transfer mechanisms, supporting joint industry-academia projects and attracting multinational tech companies. Finally, promotion of science is essential, not only in increasing the overall scientific literacy of our nation but also the public understanding of the role science can play in the development of our society.
I hope that together we will continue improving this important sector in Serbia. In this presentation you can find out more about the results my team and I have accomplished between June 2008 and March 2011 in the Ministry of Science and Technological Development.