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.
Overall Slovakia made a limited progress in the last years to address the gaps in the Slovak R&I system, namely to improve the quality and relevance of the science base and cooperation between academia, research and business. While public R&D intensity has rapidly increased in recent years, there are inefficiencies in the allocation of public research funding. Moreover, skill mismatch between industry and academia limits the performance of high-tech sectors and encourages brain drain, which is worsened by the low attractiveness of research career.
While the two years implementation plan of the national smart specialisation strategy may lay the base to meet these challenges, its finalisation was delayed. The Plan is expected to further foster the links of the selected areas of specialisation in the Strategy with the country's economic and science potential. It is also expected to specify a number of institutional and legislative actions in particular to enable them to enhance the cooperation with business, as well as to introduce a public funding reform.
Among the positive steps was the entering into force of a Tax law introducing significant tax deductions for private companies investing in R&I. The Innovation vouchers launched by Ministry of Economy gained success but need further ambition. The introduction of measures to support innovation oriented SMEs and start-ups, as well as the export of technological products, were discussed by the Government. A system of national promotion of knowledge and technology transfer has been set up that will provide assistance in the application of intellectual property rights.
To help Slovakia improve its scientific and technological performance, the following are needed: The quality and industry relevance of the science base and the level of cooperation between academia, research and business should be improved through reforming the public support system. Further measures should be put in place to encourage companies to use the research facilities of universities and also to motivate universities to create spin-offs and increase the number of contracts with companies.