The European Semester starts with the Commission's Annual Growth Survey (AGS), which outlines general economic priorities for the EU. In 2015, the focus of the AGS was on boosting investment, accelerating structural reforms and pursuing responsible growth-friendly fiscal consolidation. In line with those priorities, in February the Commission publishes a series of Country Reports presenting an assessment of economic and social developments and challenges in different areas, including research and innovation.
Portugal lags behind the EU average as regards the involvement of business in science and innovation, in terms of public-private cooperation in R&D activities and in the transfer and commercialisation of knowledge. Given the weak and scattered policy incentives for the cooperation between public research organisations and businesses, and the lack of adequate innovation friendly framework conditions for business investment in research and innovation, Portugal has been unable to overcome its companies' structural orientation towards activities that are not knowledge-intensive.
The Innovation Agency (AdI) that promotes cooperation projects between research and industry has been given a stronger role and its governance streamlined, which is expected to improve productivity and competitiveness. However, there is still a need to effectively implement stronger incentives for public-private cooperation, more effective mechanisms for knowledge transfer and efficient investment in research and innovation.
To help Portugal make the transition to a more knowledge-intensive economy, the following are needed: an investment friendly environment for business investment in research and innovation, to avoid a situation in which researchers face different conditions in the public and the private sector, closer links between higher education and the business sector and further improvements in the allocation of funding on the basis of performance criteria.