RIO Country Report Lithuania 2014
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The annual RIO Country Report analyses and assesses the development and performance of the Lithuanian national research and innovation system and related policies in the perspective of EU strategy and goals.
The report highlights recent national policy and system developments occurring and assesses the match between national policy priorities and the structural challenges of the research and innovation system. It addresses among others:
- The progress of Lithuania towards achieving the Innovation Union, focusing on areas where action is needed;
- Progress in responding to the ERA actions, particularly in light of the ERA progress report findings published in September 2014;
- Country specific R&D and innovation recommendations as indicated in COM(2014) 400 final '2014 European Semester: Country specific recommendations, Building Growth' adopted by the Commission on 2 June 2014 and endorsed by the Council on 27 June 2014;
- Progress in tackling research and innovation system challenges beyond those outlined above;
- Areas highlighted by the Commission's Communication on 'Research and innovation as sources of renewed growth' (COM(2014) 339 final) and its accompanying Staff Working Document 'State of the Innovation Union, taking stock 2010-2014' (SWD(2014 181 final).
The RIO Country Report 2014 builds on the experience of the ERAWATCH project. The ERAWATCH Country Reports from previous years are also available for download on this page.
Country Report file
The Lithuanian economy continues to recover after the peak of the crisis in 2009 recording stable growth. Lithuania adopted the single euro currency in 2015. The economic crisis has not had a major impact on public R&I funding in Lithuania. The parliamentary elections led to a change of government in 2012. Nevertheless key R&I policies remained stable.
Lithuania’s financial commitments to joint research agendas are limited and national research programmes are only implicitly aligned with research priorities pursued at ERA level. There is no specific development in removing legal and other barriers to cross-border interoperability of national programmes. In 2012 the Minister of Education and Science set up the guidelines that shape the procedures that regulate Lithuanian research institutions’ involvement in international RIs.
Lithuania does not have a single R&I strategy, rather there are several strategies and programmes in the field of R&I. In 2013 the Ministry of Economy launched the Lithuanian Innovation Development Programme for 2014-2020 in 2013. In April 2014 the Lithuanian government also approved the Programme on the Implementation of the R&I Priority Areas and their Priorities. This programme sets out the Lithuanian smart specialisation priority areas and discusses the implementation and monitoring instruments.
The National Reform Programmes 2013 and 2014 set out that GERD should reach 1.9% of GDP by 2020, and BERD should at least reach 0.9% of GDP. These targets will not be met if the rate of progress remains the same. The key issue is the stagnating BERD/GDP indicator. Lithuania lags substantially behind both the leaders in innovation and the EU average.
There were 17,677 researchers in Lithuania in 2012 (1.2% of active population, while the same indicator was 1.05% in 2011 in the EU28). In 2009 Lithuania witnessed a major HE reform. A voucher-based system as a primary means for funding HEIs was introduced. An increasing proportion of research funding is allocated through competitive schemes. Management structures of public universities have changed towards greater autonomy.
Open, transparent and merit-based recruitment of researchers:
The Law on Higher Education and Research establishes necessary conditions for open, transparent and merit based recruitment of researchers. Public universities have the freedom to decide on their academic structures, stipulate salaries and conduct recruitment of their academic staff. While legal requirements seek to ensure openness and transparency of the recruitment process, there is in practice considerable room for improvement.
Access to and portability of grants:
As a general rule, competition-based national research grants and research fellowships which are provided by the Lithuanian Research Council are open to non-residents from the EU and third countries. However, funding is not portable outside Lithuania. The Lithuanian government has not put in place any specific measures supporting the portability of grants.
In 2011, LMT took over the function of coordinator of the Lithuanian national EURAXESS centre from the Centre of Quality Assessment in Higher Education. Local EURAXESS contact points are located in five main Lithuanian universities. The EURAXESS portal (http://www.euraxess.lt) provides background information on Lithuanian higher education and research landscape, social insurance, work permits, etc.
The right to provide doctoral training is granted by the Minister of Education and Science. Universities and research institutes have a joint right to train PhDs. Coordination between universities and research institutes increases the quality of doctoral training, and fosters openness and transparency in the research system. Draft PhD programmes are evaluated by the Lithuanian Research Council. As a general rule, researchers are encouraged to spend time abroad during their PhD.
HR strategy for researchers (HRS4R) incorporating the Charter and Code:
Low salaries and poor access to academic databases, libraries and world class equipment have been the principal obstacles to the attractiveness of a research career in Lithuania. The implementation of the ‘European Charter for Researchers’ as well as the ‘Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers’ is not actively promoted as a government programme. However, both the Rectors’ Conference and the Conference of Rectors of Research Institutions have signed the Charter.
Education and training systems:
Between 2007 and 2014 Lithuanian higher education institutions used the SF support for updating their study programmes, optimising internal structures, putting in place quality management systems and enhancing qualifications. Mobility possibilities for lecturers and for students have been expanded. In 2014 the Ministry of Education and Science increased funding of higher education in technology fields.
e-Infrastructures and researchers electronic identity:
There is no national policy in respect to e-infrastructure. However, as a general rule publicly funded e-infrastructures are accessible to researchers from public and private sectors without major restrictions. MITA develops a portal “E-Science Gate” that will provide e-services to public research institutions and private enterprises.
Open Access to publications and data:
Green open access is least used in Lithuania (4.5%), while publishing in Gold journals is much more frequently encountered (12.8%). The Law on Higher Education and Research (2009) stipulates that the results of all research works carried out in state higher education and research institutions must be announced publicly. Implementation of these principles remains problematic. A number of public databases are available, but none of them has reached critical mass.
Lithuania ranks 24th (10th in the EU-28) in the World Bank’s Doing Business Rank 2015. Innovation policies are dominated by supply side instruments, however new demand-side measures (pre-commercial procurement) will be launched in 2016-2017. A remaining problem is the joint formulation, coordinated implementation and systemic evaluation of innovation policies. The key framework law addressing research and innovation is the Law on Research and Higher Education (2009).
Generally, the indicators for science based entrepreneurship are low in Lithuania. SF-funded measures Inogeb LT invested into strengthening of 10 science and technology parks operating in the science ‘valleys’, some of which include technology incubators. Since 2012, MITA has become active in promoting science-based and/or high tech innovative start-ups.
R&I funding indicators demonstrated positive trends during the last four years. However, Lithuania’s BERD (0.24% of GDP) remains clearly below the EU average. The economic crisis has not had a major impact on public R&I funding in Lithuania. The R&I policy mix in Lithuania is mainly funded by the EU structural funds (up to 80% of the total R&D funding, which is about €150-200m per year).
Project vs. institutional allocation of public funding:
The project/institutional funding of public R&D comprises 24% vs 76%. Since 2011 50% of institutional funding is allocated to PROs on the basis of results of assessment of R&D activities (e.g. publications, business R&D contracts). The remaining 50% are allocated on the basis of “normative number of staff”. The Lithuanian public bodies responsible for allocating competitive research funds apply some of the core principles of international peer review. However, international experts are not used on a systematic basis.
In Lithuania, policies targeting specifically R&I favour investments into public research infrastructure and centres of competence versus commercialisation of public research (e.g. through spin-offs), science-business collaboration and professional technology transfer services, or even direct funding for business R&I activities. Tax incentives, although available since 2009, do not play a major part in the overall policy mix, compared to subsidies or venture capital.
The Lithuanian Government has approved six priority areas and 20 specific priorities (specialisations) in 2013, as well as the Programme on the Implementation of the R&I Priority Areas and their Priorities (2014). The Programme provides the basic principles for implementing the priorities, such as the rules for selecting and approving the new priorities, monitoring and review procedures, key implementing bodies and their responsibilities.
A basic regulatory framework for intellectual property is in place, but its implementation at the institutional level is lagging. Universities and their research institutes generally lack clear spin-off creation and/or IPR protection strategies and policies. As of 2015, MITA funds R&D commercialisation feasibility studies and awareness raising activities, including specialised trainings on technology transfer and patenting. Financial support is ensured for legal entities who aim to protect intellectual property rights.
At national level, the Strategic Planning Methodology (2009) introduced an official requirement to evaluate all public programmes funded by the national budget at the ex ante, interim and ex post levels. However, the usage of ex post evaluation and international benchmarking can be further improved. In the R&I field, the analytical centre MOSTA under the Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for carrying out monitoring and evaluation assignments.
The Research Assessment Exercise in Lithuania took place from April 2014 until April 2015 and was run by MOSTA in consultation with the Research Council of Lithuania and following the methodology prepared by Technopolis Group. The key element of the exercise is international peer review that is based on broad disciplinary panels. The results are expected in the course of 2015.
21 open access centres have been set up in the five science ‘valleys’. Other measures include researchers’ placements in SMEs, innovation vouchers, promotion of clusters (Inocluster LT), open-access databases, and the “E-Science Gate” initiative implemented by MITA which should contribute to the knowledge flows between academia and the private sector.
According to the assessment of the Innovation Union Scoreboard (IUS) 2014, Lithuania’s aggregate innovation index stood at 0.289 in 2013, considerably below the EU average (0.554). Lithuania scores low in the majority of R&D performance indicators, and is above EU average only in the human resources category. Moreover, according to the new innovation output indicator scores for 2010 and 2011, Lithuania ranks just above Bulgaria. It is unlikely that Lithuania will bridge the innovation gap in the short or medium term.
In summary, the main structural challenges facing Lithuania largely remain: private sector R&I capacity building; commercialisation of public sector research results (entrepreneurial culture and technology transfer); mainstreaming internationalisation; and reducing R&I policy and governance fragmentation and improving policy capacities.
Concerning the misbalances in the current policy mix, the 2015-2020 R&I policy is expected to move to ’soft’ capacity building and R&I human resource development measures vs. infrastructure investments. Smart specialisation is expected to create a favourable environment for underpinning entrepreneurship and innovation and fostering emerging technologies, by matching supply and demand side policies. But this also requires moving beyond the current narrow understanding of innovation and circle of ’usual suspects’, both in terms of stakeholders involved and activities concerned.
A variety of funding instruments are available for SMEs in Lithuania, including clusters promotion and innovation vouchers, as well as co-financing of business R&D investments (Idea LT, Intellect LT) and acquisition of R&D equipment (Intellect LT+). The corporate profit tax incentive for R&D has been available since 2009. Although the support schemes are relatively well targeted to the needs of SMEs, the efficacy of public support is reduced by the formal, technical and ‘desk-top’ selection procedure.
Lithuania introduced new venture capital measures aiming to boost investments in early stage innovative companies in Lithuania, all supported by the European Investment Fund or JEREMIE initiative: the Baltic Innovation Fund (€100m) launched by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Practica Seed Capital Fund (€6m), Practical Venture Capital Fund (€15.7m), and LitCapital (€25m).
The Lithuanian innovation system relies mainly on innovation supply side instruments and neglects possibilities to link innovation demand with knowledge producing capacities. However, the legal basis for application of pre-commercial procurement is expected to be finalised in 2015. The pre-commercial procurement would be funded by the OP for 2014-2020 as of 2017.
The Lithuanian R&I system is mainly funded by the public sector as the majority of R&I funding comes from the EU structural funds. Since 2009, there have been considerable changes in the innovation governance system. The establishment of the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA) in 2010, the adoption of the Lithuanian Innovation Strategy in 2010 followed by the adoption of the Lithuanian Innovation Promotion Programme 2014-2020 in 2013, mark the rising importance of R&I on the political agenda.
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