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PrintLatvian science and research policy through a perspective vision
Significant changes have already occurred in approaches to science and research policy (SRP) in the European states: main shifts on the European science policy’s level are from research and development (R&D) directions, which were dominant in the last century into research, innovation and investment (R&I) schemes to combine national and the EU scientific potentials.
In order for the Baltic States’ research and innovation to be successful in the years to come, these states need sufficient public support and funding. National potentials are great in elaborating perspective visions for Latvian innovative research.
These issues attracted the authors’ attention in a newly published book in the Academy’s publication series “Latvia in Europe and the world”. *)
*) Sparitis O. and Eteris E. Modern European science policy: challenges and opportunities for Latvian perspective growth. Latvian Academy of Sciences’ publication series: Latvia in Europe and the World, SIA Medicinas apgards publish. Riga, 2019. -214 pp. ISBN 978-9984-573-15-6
The book’s four parts describe the strategic guidelines for Latvian growth is oriented towards an active role of science, research and innovation. It’s true, combined and coordinated efforts among Latvian decision-making institutions is generally needed in order for Latvia to gain advanced positions in Europe and globally. It is in this direction that contemporary debates about the role of science and innovation in the national socio-economic development are going to “promote” country’s necessary competitive advantages. And the book shows how such debates can stimulate appearances of “future and emerging technologies”, so-called FET, which represents challenging short- and long-term research directions into uncharted science and technology areas.
The book’s first part helps readers to understand the Latvian science-research policy’s role in forming the European-type “scientific environment”, which consists of the researchers’ efforts from all EU member states. As soon as the research, innovation and technology are within both shared and supporting competences, the Baltic States and Latvia are heavily relying on the EU’s financial assistance: for example during last years, the EU institutions, together with the member states have been considering financial perspective priorities for the Union’s next seven years’ budget after 2020. These “perspectives” include, among others, the existing Horizon 2020 program (the main EU’s research/innovation programme up to 2020), as well as a new financial framework’s priorities aimed at maximizing the impact of EU research and innovation in the member states progressive development.
The book’s second part is devoted to the researchers’ role in the Latvian “smart growth”, which is one of the most important parts of the whole EU strategy’s message for the member states. It is evident that the digital transformation in the Baltic States is going to change the old-fashioned policy-making to benefit the more optimal and efficient policy instruments. In this sense it is clear: by reducing administrative costs (and workforce involved) associated with the public sector, digitalisation can result in more effective policy’s settings as well as increasing the digital component in corporate entities and governmental structures.
Latvian government has to strengthen scientific and research activities, though reject academic misconduct and refrain from needless and “too-theoretic” research, in particular with a limited national research budget (about one-third of the EU’s requirement).
In this regard, the closer ties between the education and research activities are needed, particularly in the universities, where the new workforce is created; not only by the demand for enlarged up-skilling (according to fast labour changes presently) but also with the more creative approach in universities to supplement academic degrees with professional qualifications.
The book’s third part specifies Latvian strategies in “smart growth” and “national specialisation” required by the EU-2020 strategy. It’s a new direction in Latvian perspective growth, which is not going to be easy to implement, though science, research and innovation activities can facilitate the process.
As soon as science and research activity in Latvia is generally concentrated in universities, i.e. they are the domain of finding out the most prospective and “special” spheres of Latvian growth. Presently with the overwhelming intrusion of ICT and digital agenda into almost all spheres of socio-economic development, these issues are becoming the focal points in the Baltic States and Latvia which are greatly extending research and innovation spheres in these countries.
However, it is still for the policy-makers to decide the ways Latvia can achieve its vision of “inclusive innovation” and identify which policy options are really aimed at achieving innovative growth.
The books fourth part is devoted to the science policy’s role in perspective Latvian growth; major Latvian socio-economic challenges are about maintaining the high level of well-being. To reach this objective, structural reforms restoring competitiveness, raising productivity and boosting employment will be needed. The labour market needs to function better and work incentives need to be further strengthened.
Science, technology and innovation are more than ever crucial to boosting growth and jobs, and to addressing the great global and European challenges: from socio-economic development, to climate change, environmental quality and health. Therefore, support and sufficient financial resources will be needed for research, innovation and education.
It is expected that the book will be received with interest by the general public, education facilities and public authorities; the authors’ main message to the latter is to maintain the willingness for structural reforms, while keeping national economy constantly growing. In this sense, Latvian society shall inspire the government’s efforts towards further growth and wellbeing.
It has to be a political decision to support the Latvian science and innovation policy; and it is decisive to know the most progressive directions in this regard for our country. No doubt, the book is showing most optimal perspectives for political choices.