Montenegrin research and innovation landscape

– by Ljiljana Belada –

Research and innovation are key to tackling the economic and social challenges of Europe. They contribute to the use of new growth opportunities generated by knowledge, technological advancements, innovation processes and product innovation, and new business models that support economic development and help address social challenges.

Science, technology and innovation are important drivers for the Europe 2020 Growth Strategy.

In 20151, the Member States of the European Union spent all together almost €300 billion on Research & Development. The R&D intensity, i.e. R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP, stood at 2.03% in 2015, compared with 2.04% in 2014. Europe 2020 Strategy sets out a vision of Europe’s social market economy for the 21st century and notably retained the 3% R&D intensity goal as one of the five headline targets to be achieved by the EU by 2020.
The business enterprise sector continues to be the main sector in which R&D expenditure was spent, accounting for 64% of total R&D conducted in 2015, followed by the higher education sector (23%), the government sector (12%) and the private non-profit sector (1%).

In 2015, the highest R&D intensities were recorded in Sweden (3.26%), Austria (3.07%) and Denmark (3.03%), all with R&D expenditure above 3% of GDP, closely followed by Finland (2.90%) and Germany (2.87%). Belgium (2.45%), France (2.23%), Slovenia (2.21%) and the Netherlands (2.01%) registered R&D expenditure between 2.0% and 2.5% of GDP. At the opposite end of the scale, seven Member States recorded a R&D intensity below 1%: Cyprus (0.46%), Romania (0.49%), Latvia (0.63%), Malta (0.77%), Croatia (0.85%), Bulgaria and Greece (both 0.96%).

Montenegro is a young country which became independent in 2006. Montenegro is situated in Southeast Europe covering the area of 13,812 km2 with total population of 620,0292 inhabitants that accounts for 0.1% of the EU population.
Since independence in 2006, Montenegro has undertaken a number of reforms aimed at creating a more suitable environment for research and innovation.
According to the latest data collected by MONSTAT (National Statistical Office), the total expenditures on research and development (GERD)3 in 2015 was at the level of 0.38% of GDP (€13,67M), which is significantly below the EU average of 2.03% of GDP, and far from Montenegro’s own target of 1.40% set up by 20164. The main source for funding of research and development (R&D) activities in Montenegro is the government budget, almost 50% as a share of GERD.

Montenegro, as small economy, despite different subsidies and incentives for private sector research, is still far behind the developed countries in terms of the technological capacity of its business sector.
Government of Montenegro, and in particular Ministry of Science, is conscious of serious efforts that are required to increase the level of investment in research, particularly from the private sector. Intense incentive measures for public sector investments are already offered, through enhancing public-private partnership for establishing the first Centre of Excellence in BIO- ICT, and Science and Technology Park “Technopolis”.
Over the past years, good progress has been achieved with the measures related to this area. A new Strategy on Innovative Activity (2016-2020) was adopted in July 2016, and the Law on Innovation Activities was adopted in June 2016. This law governs the organisation, conditions and manner of financing innovation activities.

Several other areas are under preparation including a Strategy of Scientific Research Activity 2017-2021 as well as a Smart Specialization Strategy 2018-2022. In this regard Montenegro has requested accession to the Joint Research Centre Smart Specialization platform. Montenegro also has a Research Infrastructure Roadmap (2014-2020) which defines and presents priorities in the field of research infrastructure. In this regard preparations are underway to establish a Science and Technology Park within the University of Montenegro, aimed at strengthening links between the academic and economic sectors and encouraging innovation. This would be seen as the central point, feeding BIO-ICT and “Tehnopolis”.

Despite many initiatives, new legislation, and adoption of strategies, it is evident that there has been still little tangible progress in the area of R&D capacity, technology transfer, and innovation in Montenegro. Undoubtedly, limited funding is a serious factor.
The Ministry of Science is the dominant funding mechanism in Montenegro. The financing of R&D is executed via annual national calls for research proposals published by the Ministry.
Apart from supporting the employment of young researchers, improving of university research laboratories and infrastructure of research institutions, expanding opportunities for mobility of researchers, programmes cover other instruments for enhancing science research activities, such as participation to COST and EUREKA programs, promotion of science and research in education and wider society, cooperation with science diaspora, master and PhD studies, supporting patent authors and innovation ideas, etc.

July 1st 2014. Montenegro became the first country from the region to join the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation – Horizon 2020. The national coordination body is the Ministry of Science.
Even though there were numerous info days, trainings and workshops organized by different institutions on Horizon 2020, its content, programmes, opportunities for beneficiaries, Montenegro is not satisfied with the results.

It is clear that the EU’s decision to open and temporarily close on the same day the Chapter 25 – Science and Research, approves the level of harmonisation of science-related policies and legislation on Science and Research with the Treaty on European Union and EU’s goals, guidelines and priorities in this area. It is also clear that this chapter contains very few community regulations, because science largely remains in the domain of the national governments.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that Montenegro is in any way up to European standards in Science and Research. Rather, it should be understood as encouragement, and a positive signal for further negotiations.
The decision is conditional on Montenegro meeting three aims: raising the level of investments into science, stepping up bilateral and multilateral cooperation, and creating conditions for science to become the driving force of innovations in the country5.

1 Source: Eurostat Newsrelease, 30. November 2016
2 Source: MOSTAT, Census 2011
3 Source: MONSTAT, results of the Survey “Research and Development in 2014”
4 Set in the Strategy for Science-Research Activities of Montenegro 2008-2016, and its Updated version 2012-2016
5 EC Progress Report, Montenegro 2016

image001Ljiljana Belada currently works in the Directorate for Development of SME, Montenegro, within the Ministry of economy. She is the Head of Enterprise Europe Network Montenegro – EEN, the biggest entrepreneurship network in the world. She has been coordinating Montenegrin Consortium from 2010.

She has been working in the DDSME from 2001, engaged in coordinating institutional support mechanisms, promotion and development of regional and international cooperation.

Ljiljana Belada is the member/representative for:

  • COSME Programme Committee (EC Framework Program for Competitiveness of Enterprises and SME)
  • NCP for SME for Horizon 2020 (EC Framework Program for Research and Innovation)
  • President of the Board of directors of the first IT business incubator in Montenegro
  • Member of the WG on Innovation Law in Montenegro
  • Member of the WG on Innovation Strategy of Montenegro
  • Member of the WG on Smart Specialization Strategy Montenegro

She is involved in numerous national and international projects for SME development, research and innovation projects and initiatives.

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