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Macedonia creates €8m fund for SME innovation

Posted 16 April 2014 by Mićo Tatalović

The Macedonian government has launched a Fund for Innovation and Technology Development, aimed at boosting R&D activity at small and medium-sized businesses. The fund is financed by a loan from the World Bank to the tune of €8 million over the next three years. It is expected to fund innovation projects in ICT, agriculture, tourism and renewable energy, preferably with a local collaboration agenda, says Jasmina Popovska, the fund's director. “The point is to create jobs through growth of SMEs... Read more

Q&A: Science adviser to the president of Macedonia

Posted 15 April 2014 by Mićo Tatalović

Macedonia, a country of just over 2 million people, held the first round of its presidential elections yesterday (13 April) with the next round scheduled for later this month. The small, landlocked nation in South-East Europe has some 1,000 full time scientists, mainly in the public sector, and invests less than 0.3% of its GDP in research and development. Its national research system is “centralised and underfunded” and private research sector is “still rather weak thus rendering research in the... Read more

EU link to Balkans’ science threatened

Posted 14 April 2014 by Mićo Tatalović

The long-term future of a steering platform on research that brought warring Balkan nations and the EU ­together through science is uncertain after the project that hosted it ends. EU officials are now scrambling for alternative avenues to keep the hard-won cooperation going in this troubled region. The project – WBC-Inco.Net – and the steering platform were lauded for their achievements at the project's final conference in Vienna, Austria in March. The platform was set up in 2006 as part of wide-ranging and systematic EU support... Read more

End of WBC-Inco.Net leaves Western Balkan research stronger, but still weak

Posted 3 April 2014 by Mićo Tatalović

You wouldn’t guess from its obscure name, but in the past six years the WBC-Inco.net project has become a beacon for scientists in the Western Balkans. Prompted by the eastern expansion of the EU in 2004, the project was initiated to help create a spirit of research collaboration in the conflict-ridden region. It received €3 million from Framework 7 from 2008 to 2013 to run workshops and networking events, help scientists from the region access EU funds and promote Western... Read more

Ukraine’s political turmoil offers hope for science

Posted 15 March 2014 by Mićo Tatalović

Scientists in Ukraine are pushing through two laws to reform the country's ailing research and higher education sectors during a window of opportunity before presidential elections in May - or further chaos, according to an article published in Science this week (14 March). The laws would allow greater freedom to universities and access to scientific literature, a national science foundation to fund science based on merit, an audit of research institutes and easier access to research materials such as chemical... Read more

Steering board resigns after Croatian fund merger

Posted 14 March 2014 by Mićo Tatalović

The steering committee of Croatia’s Unity through Knowledge Fund has stepped down after it was announced that the fund will be incorporated into the Croatian Science Foundation. Croatia’s science ministry wants to merge the UKF with the much larger foundation in order to ensure future “sustainability of the fund”. The science foundation, which is now the central place for project-based research after an overhaul of Croatian science funding, will be responsible for managing UKF programmes. Scientists in the country, however,... Read more

What will it take to make East Europe’s science more competitive? EU’s pay bonuses and West’s help are part of the answer

Posted 24 February 2014 by Mićo Tatalović

A salary bonus of up to €8,000 a year made possible through Europe's new €80 billion research scheme, Horizon 2020, may help level the playing field between West and East Europe, but will not be enough on its own to stem the inequality and brain drain that keep Europe from maximising its scientific potential. The bonus is one of a few innovations aimed at changing the uncompetitive nature of research in Eastern Europe and the strong science salary inequalities across... Read more

Swiss U-turn on Croatian immigrants halts its research and education talks with European Commission

Posted 21 February 2014 by Mićo Tatalović

Swiss science and education may take a hit after the country's citizens narrowly approved immigration caps in a referendum on 9 February. Though the immigration reform would take up to three years to implement, the vote had an immediate impact on the European Union's newest member state, Croatia, which saw its free movement of people agreement with Switzerland put on hold. In response to the Swiss move, the European Commission suspended talks on Switzerland's participation in the EU's flagship research... Read more

€100 billion for innovation in EU’s regional funds to end research divide and brain drain

Posted 10 February 2014 by Mićo Tatalović

Billions in EU regional development funds – used to help poor regions catch up – will now be targeted to support innovation as part of a major reform of EU regional policy, according to an article in Science|Business. The aim is to bridge the research divide and halt the brain drain from east and south Europe while helping low-income regions to innovate, according to Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional and Urban Policy, quoted in the article. Europe is “divided into a... Read more

University professors among protesters in Bosnia and Herzegovina, ‘priceless’ archives burnt down in violent riots

Posted 7 February 2014 by Mićo Tatalović

Some academics have also hit the streets to show their support for the popular protests in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was rocked by country-wide street demonstrations today, that turned violent in places, with several government buildings set on fire, together with academic materials housed within. The state archives in Zenica burnt down after government buildings were set ablaze by protesters there. The archive consultant, Andrej Rodinis, told local media that some of the most valuable and priceless items vanished. The burnt... Read more