System of public financing of research and development in the Slovak Republic

Analytical report, October 2018, Summary,

The topic of research and development has been emphasized both in international and national strategic documents, such as the 2030 UN Agenda, the Programme Statement of the Government of the Slovak Republic, or the national reform programmes for recent years. According to these documents, R&D in the Slovak Republic (SR) represents an area with insufficient results. Among other concerns there are named low expenditures of SR on R&D, declining number of researchers and below-average citations. Hence, the Supreme Audit Office of the Slovak Republic (SAO SR) identified the R&D as one of the top priority and published the analytical study devoted to this topic in October 2018.

The aim of the report is to evaluate the amount of public funds invested in R&D and results of these public investments in 2007 - 2017 period. To achieve this aim, the report contains: comprehensive description of the field and system; international comparisons of several relevant indicators; evaluation of various public sources used for R&D, especially EU funds; assessment of availability of sufficient R&D data in SR.

The report confirmed, that the SR lags behind comparable countries in many indicators. The SR’s expenditure on R&D as percentage of GDP is one of the lowest in the EU. There is also significantly lower proportion of employees working in R&D in SR than in other comparable countries. In 2016 SR had the second lowest value of the number of patents per GDP within EU countries. Similarly, SR achieved the 25th place in the rank of 28 EU countries based on the success of achieving funds from Horizon 2020, which can be perceived as one of the most comprehensive indicator. However, when assessing the ratio of funds invested and number of outputs, values for SR are above the EU average. This impression of higher efficiency stems mainly from the fact, that the funds invested are very low.

According to the report, there are serious drawbacks in the strategic management of the R&D in the SR. The system is highly fragmented and it lacks sufficient coordination. In the period 2007 - 2017, 14 strategic documents were adopted in Slovakia in the field of R&D, but only half of them were implemented. There was no comprehensive strategic document covering the public policy of R&D in 2018.

In the period 2007 - 2017, approx. 23% of total public expenditure on R&D in SR was financed by the EU Structural Funds, while in 2015 this portion was more than half. However, the process of allocating the funds from the EU is very administratively demanding. Moreover, there is insufficient attention paid to linkage of the funded projects to the long-term priorities of the SR.

In the SR, there are several portals and databases providing data on R&D. However, the existing databases are not sufficiently interconnected and data consistency is not cross-checked. A significant portion of the data is published in a form which enables almost no processing. This report concludes, that there is no information system in SR, providing data on R&D of sufficient detail, processability, and consistency enabling effective management and surveillance of this area.

As a result, the report defined several particular themes for further analyses, or complex audits, that the SAO SR may undertake in the future.

The full text of the analysis about this issue in Slovak language is available here.