Title: Challenges for R&I policy-making in Latvia
- Insufficient supply of human capital for science and innovation: this relates not only to the number of people, but also to the relevance of their knowledge. The main public policy initiatives related to this challenge are the introduction of performance-related components in higher education financing and study programme licensing and accreditation. In addition, in 2017 the Ministry of Education and Science initiated steps to ensure that the development of higher education and science is in line with industry needs. Mandatory state exams in natural sciences were also introduced.
- Fragmented public research and education system: a high level of fragmentation exists both in terms of the high number of institutions and their geographical dispersion. The most notable policy response to this challenge has been the consolidation process of the Latvian higher education system through base financing allocation. In 2017, the process continued by closing one HEI – Riga Teacher Training and Educational Management Academy which became part of University of Latvia. However, further consolidations are not envisaged in the near future.
- Lack of demand-side policy measures for the creation and stimulation of markets: Demand-side innovation promotion instruments such as public procurement for innovation and pre-commercial procurement are largely absent in Latvia, which significantly influences innovation performance of both the public and the private sector. Recent amendments to the Law of Public Procurement made it easier to involve external evaluation experts and decreased the level of bureaucratic costs of R&I performers.
- Limited effectiveness and efficiency of the RD&I funding system: insufficient funding, lack of trust between stakeholders (agencies, scientists and universities), low risk tolerance of the agencies managing EU funding schemes and the practice of excessive programme framing and reporting requirements for R&D performers limit further efficiency improvements in RD&I funding. Some programmes (e.g. Competence Centres) have already been reformed by delegating part of project selection and evaluation to competence centres themselves, which by design are managed by industry leaders. In addition, the managing authorities are adopting a new approach to risk management by requesting only a fraction of the documents for review.