The annual RIO Country Report offers an analysis of the R&I system in the Slovak Republic, including relevant policies and funding, with particular focus on topics critical for EU policies. The report identifies the main challenges of the Slovak research and innovation system and assesses the policy response.
The Slovak Republic fares modestly in the international comparison of public governance quality and effectiveness of public administration with a high turnover of civil servants due to government changes and underdeveloped analytical capacities. It has also a fragmented R&I policy governance and there are limited synergies between the ministries and the eight government agencies support R&D and innovation. This may lead to a lack of coordination and dispersion of limited financial resources.
The institutional finance for R&I is provided by the Slovak Government, yet the Slovak Republic finances most of its R&I policy from EU Structural Funds. This may raise questions about the long-term sustainability of this funding model. The majority of the Structural Funds in 2007-2013 were invested in building research, applied and industry research was also supported from Structural Funds, albeit on a smaller scale.
There are no regional R&I policies as the degree of regional institutional autonomy is low. All the regions built their Regional Innovation Strategies by 2015, however their impact is limited, since it is not mandatory for the central government to consider the targets and the objectives set in regional planning documents.
The institutional and project finance for research is channelled via agencies of the central government (VEGA, KEGA, SBA, SIEA, SRDA, Research Agency). No regional policy measures are envisaged in the operational programmes (except for allocations to the Bratislava Region). The fragmented and sub-efficient RD&I support system may partly explain the low participation of domestic enterprises in R&D activities.
The introduction of the Slovak Government Council for Research, Development and Innovations (SGCSTI) in 2013 provided a high-level structure bringing together main ministries responsible for R&I policy and the main research performer – the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAS). The SGCSTI prepared a set of strategic documents, namely the newly adopted Research and Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialisation (RIS3) of the Slovak Republic (2013-2014) that paves the way for a more focused and centralised governance and announces several important reforms, e.g. the creation of a GCSTI Standing Committee for the RIS3 strategy.
The National Reform Programme (NRP) 2015 foresees significant changes, including the merger of numerous funding agencies into the Agency of Research and the Agency of Technology, as well as the transforming of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAS) institutes, budgetary and subordinate organisations into public research institutes (PRI). The initial draft of the NRP envisaged nine PRI, but the Slovak Government did not approve the Law on the PRI by May 2016 and, thus, this concept was not implemented.
The National Reform Programme (NRP) 2016 foresees that after the adoption of the RIS3, the implementation of individual measures will begin with the aim of establishing structural changes in science and research. The measures will be mainly focused on the targeted use and the stabilisation of public funds and support for the engagement of private sector in R&D activities. Financing will be focused on increasing the quality of research, promoting the infrastructure built from EU funds and connecting universities, science academies, research institutions and partners from the industry sector.
The adoption of the Action Plan to implement the RIS3 strategy is still pending and the merger of the funding agencies was announced last year, but it is not implemented yet.
There were no functional regional systems of innovation governance by end of 2015 in the Slovak Republic and there was no progress in building a regional system of innovation governance. There were no major changes in the layout of competences in R&I policies between the central and regional governments.
The RIS3 announced important reforms such as the reform of the higher education, reform of the Slovak Academy of Sciences and the reform of the secondary education (dual education aimed at vocational training). Up to now, the government started only the reform of the secondary education, whereas the other reforms were delayed.