Kolarska-Bobińska: we will spend 1 percent GDP on R&D this year
Poland will reach 1 percent GDP spending on R&D this year - Minister of Science and Higher Education Lena Kolarska-Bobińska said last Friday in Brussels. She announced that she would meet with treasury and defence ministers to discuss the financing of research and development.
The Minister, who participated in a meeting of EU Ministers responsible for competitiveness, told reporters that in October a report will be presented on budgetary expenditures on research and development (R&D) in Poland.
"We expect that this year we will reach 1 percent. GDP (in expenditures on R&D - PAP); on the one hand there was a huge jump in spending from the state budget for science - next year we will have more than 10% growth - and on the other hand, we have increasing investments from private companies" - she said.
For years, Poland has been among the EU countries with the lowest expenditures on research and development. Eurostat data show that in 2012 we spent 0.9 percent GDP on R&D, while the EU average was more than 2 percent. Our problem is particularly low private sector spending - of the total funds allocated to R&D in Poland, businesses contribute less than 30 percent. The vast majority are public funds. Meanwhile, in developed economies, for example in the U.S., Japan and Germany, more than 60% funds for R&D come from the private sector.
According to Kolarska-Bobińska, however, the situation is changing and we are well on the way to achieve spending on research and development at the level of 1.7 percent GDP by 2020, according to our declarations made at the EU level. Average for all European Union countries should reach 3 percent GDP by 2020.
The Minister admitted that the economic development slowdown may cause some difficulties in increasing spending on R&D, but - in her view - there are reserves that can be used. "If you look at the treasury companies, which show a complete lack of interest in investing in research and development, even as the economy slows down, if they become interested in this objective, we have a huge space that they will be able to fill" - she noted. She announced that she would meet with the treasury minister Włodzimierz Karpiński to discuss this.
Kolarska-Bobińska added that she also had a meeting scheduled with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence Tomasz Siemoniak to discuss the money for research on dual-use (military and civilian) technologies. "Defence ministry has allocated some money to this type of research. We would like them to decide to commit a lot more" - she said.
The Minister spoke about the concern that the cuts in the EU budget for 2015 could include the research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. Its has a budget until the end of this decade is expected to reach nearly 80 billion euros. Due to shortages in national budgets, some European capitals suggest to cut it by 11 percent this year.
Kolarska-Bobińska reported that during the meeting of the ministers she pointed out that the reduction in the budget of this programme would be a bad signal for science.
Poles came off poorly in the previous financial perspective with regard to the use of the money. We were among the EU countries with the lowest number of acquired grants. According to data published by the Ministry of Science in July, we were able to recover only 1.7 percent of the total budget for seven years (i.e. 850 million out of 50 billion euros). According to the minister, now the situation could significantly improve.
From Brussels Krzysztof Strzępka