Science and innovation in Latvia are the key resources to achieve the state development aims, therefore the main aims of science and technology development policy are to promote the change of national economy model in Latvia, e.g., promoting the transition from labour-consuming economy towards knowledge economy.
The scientific activities in Latvia are determined by the Law on Scientific Activity and other normative acts and policy planning documents. At the moment one of the prior tasks is to participate in the EU 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (2009-2013) and preparing for EU Research and Innovation Framework Programme Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) stating the priority in the development of science, technology and innovation and the tasks of the government policy to be achieved.
Drawing up the aims and objectives of national science and technology development policy in Latvia the following principles are being observed:
- development of science and technology is the determinant factor for sustainable development of economy, to ensure the welfare of society and preserve environment and natural resources;
- science and research are the basis of national culture, national identity and self-awareness and necessary prerequisite for the development;
- science, research and innovation in Latvia form an integral, harmonic part of the European Research Area and the science in the world.
The scientific potential in Latvia is developed on the basis of existing scientific traditions. Such traditions exist in organic chemistry, medical chemistry, genetic engineering, physics, materials science and information technologies as well as in several social and humanitarian sciences. The highest number of inventions, which are patented both nationwide and abroad, are made in the branch of medical chemistry. These patents mainly protect inventions in the field of new medicine, e.g., mildronat and its descendants, new medicaments to cure cancer and cardiac-blood-vessel medicaments.
Scientific institutions in Latvia can be scientific institutions, higher education establishments, commercial companies as well as other institutions in the articles of association by-law or constitution of which scientific activity and participation in the process of acquiring and improving scientific qualification is provided for and which are registered in the Register of scientific institutions. There are 136 scientific institutions, inter alia, 12 institutions are state founded. The scientific work is mainly organised in Riga and Riga region but during the last years the gradual development of scientific research capacity is taking place in regions, too.
The total funding for research and development in 2011 in Latvia constituted 99,4 million lats or 0,70% of gross domestic product (GDP). 0,18% or 24,7 million lats were funded by business sector, and 0,35% or 50,7 million lats by foreign investors (including funding from EU structural funds).
SCIENCE IN FIGURES
According to the aims determined by the European Union level of ,,EU2020ā strategy that should be achieved by 2020, investment in scientific research should constitute 3% of GDP. Despite the strict fiscal policy for the forthcoming years in our country, Latvia has set the quantitative target concerning the investments in science and development; in 2015 1.0% of GDP but in 2020 to achieve 1.5 % of GDP for R&D.
Proportion of people employed in research from total number of employees, %, 2009
Patent applications to the EPO, per million population in 2009
Total financing for R&D in Latvia (% of GDP), 2010
State financing for R&D in Latvia (% of GDP), 2010
R&D expenditure in the higher education sector in Latvia (% of GDP)
New doctorate graduates per 1000 population aged 25-34 in 2008
Source: EUROSTAT, Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia
In order to implement purposefully the science policy and to use effectively financial resources, since 2001 prior fields in science to finance fundamental and applied research are defined. In 2009 five prior fields in science were determined for years 2010-2013; these fields are as follows:
- energy and environment;
- innovative materials and technologies;
- national identity;
- public health;
- sustainable usage of local resourcesā new products and technologies.
On the basis of the five prior fields five state research programmes are implemented.
In order to increase the competitiveness and efficiency of Latvian science system the expertise of independent science, technology and innovation system was organized in 2009. The results of the expertise initiated the development of hierarchic system of state scientific institutions and consolidation of state scientific institutions. In 2011 nine national level scientific institutions were developed which included many of existing scientific institutes. National level scientific institutes are envisaged to implement projects and research mostly in prior research fields in close cooperation with economic needs and prior trends of economics. Besides 4-5 scientific institutions on the European level and ESFRI Roadmap are planned to be developed.
In 2012 Ministry of Education and Science concluded with the Nordic Council of Ministers an Agreement on international evaluation of Latvian scientific institutions. Latvia expects to receive recommendations and conclusions by March, 2013, and on the basis of the recommendations of the international scientific evaluation the restructuring of Latvian scientific system will be continued.
In order to achieve the science and technology development policy and quantitative targets concerning investments in research and development it is necessary:
- to support scientific activities in order to renew and develop intellectual potential and infrastructure;
- to optimize the structure of state budget expenses and to improve the effective application of current funding in order to secure necessary investments in science and technology development, thus achieving the stage when mechanism of public funding allocation is able to ensure increasing raise of investments in greater part of private sector
- to promote competitiveness of scientific activities at the international level and promoting international cooperation in the field of science and technology development
- to promote the transfer of science and technology by implementing institutional environment for innovative activities and support measures for developing public and private partnership;
- continue to implement support measures with the aim to support access to financial resources for small and medium size businessmen and for innovative projects in business management (seed capital, risk capital, loans with reduced interest).
Latvia is involved in different international cooperation programmes and initiatives. The current main activities in the field of science are the following:
- Involvement in the European Union research and technology development programmes (Framework Programme, EURATOM programme, EUREKAERA-Net etc.) and participation in technology platforms and in other common international level activities (BONUS programme, Eurostars and other Article 185 initiatives, Joint Technology Initiatives like ARTEMIS and IMI programmes, etc);
- Activities aimed to ensure the integration of Latvian science and research in the European Research Area, students and researchers, and academia mobility programmes, participation in research infrastructure projects and ESFRI Roadmap institutions;
- By promoting the exploration in the field of space research in Latvia the international cooperation is developed in this field, inter alia, in the framework of European Union programmes and the European Space Agency;
- In order to promote bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the field of scientific research and technology development among EU member states and other countries, the international inter ministerial and intergovernmental agreements and cooperation documents are signed among partner organisations.
SUPPORT FROM STRUCTURAL FUNDS IN 2007-2013
- 1 000 full time scientific workers will be recruited in the field of science;
- 780full time scientific workers will be supported which constitutes 10% of total number working in scientific research
- 200 research projects and 30 international collaboration projects will be supported;
- 35 scientific institutions will be renovated and modernised;
- academic network of national significance will be developed to ensure scientific activities and research.