How does Slovakia support innovations?

Companies operating in Slovakia can benefit from state subsidies, EU resources and venture capital funds.

Science in Slovakia is underfunded, lagging behind other European countries.Science in Slovakia is underfunded, lagging behind other European countries. (Source: SME)

Do you have innovative ideas? In Slovakia, you might be left to your own resources for now, but change is coming – albeit slowly.

The Slovak system of innovation is below the EU average, although there are some researchers and firms giving their country a good name. However, Slovakia’s R&D support is the lowest among the Visegrad Group (V4) countries.

The total share of R&D investment in GDP in the Czech Republic is more than twice as high as it is in Slovakia. Moreover, corporate funds account for only a quarter of the total Slovak funding, said Peter Kolesár, chairman of the board and CEO at Neulogy consulting company. Hungary’s private sector accounts for one half.

All V4 countries have equal access to EU funds, but when it comes to the actual drawing of EU funds, Slovakia is lagging behind, according to Kolesár. By the end of January 2018, the country spent only 4 percent of the €2.2 billion it was assigned from the 2014-2020 Operational Programme Research and Innovation (OPVaI).

“Final drawing efficiency is weaker than in surroundings and in the previous period,” Kolesár told The Slovak Spectator.

Slovak innovations are dependent on EU money, said Daniel Straka of the Slovak Organisation for Research and Development Activities (SOVVA). Up to 89.1 percent of foreign resources, which account for 39.4 percent of all resources, come from the EU.

“The funds should be perceived only as complementary to national resources,” Straka told The Slovak Spectator.

Current EU funding

OPVaI supports R&D within the domains of the 2014-2020 Strategy for Intelligent Specialisation. In Slovakia, the domains include the production of transportation, healthy food, environmental issues, digital technologies and the creative industry.

The programme is managed by both the Education and Economy Ministries, while their subordinate organisations, the Research Agency and the Slovak Innovation and Energy Agency (SIEA), are implementing the support processes. Recent calls for support focus on mobilisation of excellent research teams, centres of excellence, teaming research centres and long-term strategic R&D in the domains.

The European Commission (EC) offers a special SME Instrument scheme that serves to transform the R&D products of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) into commercial success and attract future investors. To obtain support, the company must have a breakthrough product and a good business plan, according to Ivan Filus of the BIC Bratislava company.

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