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RIO Country Report Croatia 2016

The annual RIO Country Report offers an analysis of the R&I system in Croatia, including relevant policies and funding, with particular focus on topics critical for EU policies. The report identifies the main challenges of the Croatian research and innovation system and assesses the policy response.


Executive summary


  • In 2015, Croatia reversed the long-lasting (2009-2014) negative GDP growth rate and the real GDP expanded by 1.6%. These positive indications are further projected in 2016 and 2017.
  • The employment in high- and medium-tech manufacturing (3.2%) and in knowledge-intensive services (32.53%) remains below the EU28 average (4.69% in 2013 and 36.95% in 2014).
  • The R&I governance and funding system is centralised, with several public bodies involved.
  • The system is characterised by low R&D intensity, with the direct public support to
    R&D expenditures having decreased during the post-crisis fiscal adjustment period.
  • The 2014-2020 programming period is Croatia's first full cycle with access to ESIF. That will provide an important source of financing for both public and private sectors.
  • On 11 September 2016, parliamentary elections were held, due to a motion of no confidence against the previous government in June 2016, after just five months in power. The new government was sworn in on 19 October.

Main R&I policy challenges

  • Increasing the R&I funding and improving the absorption of ESIF. Despite the efforts and actions undertaken, Croatia struggles in increasing the R&I investment and lags behind the 2020 R&D target of 1.4% of GDP. It is expected that the country will take advantage to leverage its R&I investments through ESIF.
  • Building a coherent and integrated R&I policy framework. The reforms undertaken to tackle fragmentation have led to certain improvements of R&I governance. The adopted strategic documents provide an impetus to the reform of the national education, research and innovation systems. However, their implementation remains to be seen.
  • Strengthening the private sector's R&I capability and improving the business innovation environment. Creating innovation-friendly business environment, strengthening the links between science and business and developing the "smart" skills to meet the business needs are among the key targets of the Smart Specialisation Strategy and the Strategy for Fostering Innovation. The overall funding provided to the business sector is still insufficient.
  • Strengthening the public R&I capability. Implementation of reforms has started and initial results are mostly promising. Research grants are now awarded on the basis of rigorous evaluation that should lead to a smaller number of high quality research projects. Performance-based institutional funding should also strengthen the financial responsibility of R&D institutions.

Main R&I policy developments in 2016

  • Strategy for Smart Specialisation (S3) adopted.
  • First calls funded by ESIF issued and a seed co-investment fund for innovative SMEs launched.
  • Initiated establishment of the Innovation Network for Industry.
  • The Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Crafts merged into the Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts.
  • New Public Procurement Act adopted.
Geo coverage
Report year
Official publication date
Friday, 12 May, 2017
Last update: 24/10/2017 | Top | Legal notice | Contact | Search