Slovenia's parliament is expected to approve a 10-year strategy next week to give the country's research and innovation sectors a major facelift. The plan aims to boost government funding for science, attract more scientific talent from abroad, and make the nation of 2 million the science and innovation hub of the western Balkans.
The strategy also aims to turn Slovenia into a desirable destination for the most successful researchers and companies from the western Balkans and to increase the number of foreign researchers working in the country—especially in the natural and technical sciences. Entrepreneurship among scientists will be stimulated by helping young Ph.D.s set up spin-off enterprises, giving tax breaks to companies that invest in R&D, encouraging public-private research collaboration, and cutting red tape.
The strategy will give public research organizations more autonomy but also places them under closer scrutiny: in order to receive public funding, organizations must produce results that clearly make a positive impact on science or the economy. Despite this results-driven approach, the strategy gives basic research free reign, and support and public funding for basic and pioneering research will increase. “Fundamental progress in science can only be achieved through research free of preset priorities and based only on the primal curiosity of researchers,” the document says.
Both plans are "good and carefully prepared proposals that will make a positive impact on the development of science and higher education in Slovenia," adds Uros Seljak, a Slovenian physicist working at the University of California, Berkeley.
The window of opportunity for passing the proposals may be closing, because three referenda on major budget reforms, scheduled for early June, are likely to break up the current coalition government and trigger early elections in the fall. One party recently left the ruling coalition, leaving Slovenia with a minority government.