ZAGREB, September 30, 2021 – The Minister of Science and Education, Radovan Fuchs, and the World Bank’s Country Manager for Croatia, Jehan Arulpragasam, today signed an advisory agreement under which the World Bank will provide technical assistance to help the Croatian government strengthen the effectiveness and institutional capacity of implementation of research and innovation policies in Croatia.
The consultancy project will provide long-term technical assistance and inputs into the design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of research, development and innovation (RDI) policy during the European Union programming period 2021-2027.
This support is also necessary for the implementation of an ambitious program of RDI policy reforms set out in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) and to help the institutions concerned make the most of the significant public funds available. for research and innovation.
Croatia has a unique opportunity to boost growth with additional stimulus from EU recovery and structural funds. A bold new approach to RDI funding is needed to reap the full benefits of the EU recovery plan. Both the policy mix and the process, which includes the management and control of funds, should be adjusted to better meet the needs of the innovation ecosystem. Increasing R&D funding is an opportunity, but also poses the challenge of achieving the desired results in terms of research excellence and innovation performance.
“In cooperation with experts from the World Bank, we will put in place an effective and efficient system to design, implement, monitor and evaluate RDI policies. Such a system will help us to make the most of the opportunities offered by the new financial perspectives of the European Union. Substantial funding from the European Union, as well as the necessary improvement of research and innovation policies, will contribute to the achievement of globally comparable scientific results and to the transfer of knowledge while promoting the competitiveness of knowledge-based economy,” said Minister Fuchs, on the occasion of the signing of the agreement.
The SPRING (Strategic Partnership for Research, Innovation and Growth) consultancy program has three components and will last until mid-2026. The first component will provide elements for updating the next smart specialization strategy to improve its intervention logic, entrepreneurial discovery process, governance and monitoring and evaluation framework. The second component aims to provide targeted advice throughout the implementation period of the smart specialization strategy and to build institutional capacity for RDI policy. The third component will support the upgrading of the existing M&E framework and prepare for its practical implementation.
“Data and experience show that effective use of funds for R&D and innovation leads to increases in growth and productivity as well as the creation of highly skilled jobs, especially in small and young innovation-driven companies. This is of particular importance in these times of health, social and economic crisis,” said Jehan Arulpragasam, World Bank Country Director for Croatia and Slovenia. Effective use of RDI funding is an opportunity for Croatia to stimulate innovation potential. We are very pleased that Croatia has again chosen the World Bank to join in this effort.
The World Bank has been a partner of Croatia for more than 27 years. During this period, the Bank has supported more than 50 projects, worth almost $5 billion, produced numerous studies and provided technical assistance to help strengthen institutions and support the design of policies and strategies. The Bank’s current program focuses on mitigating the economic and social impact of COVID-19, post-earthquake reconstruction, transport, justice, innovation, business environment, land administration , science and technology and the economic development of the Pannonian region.
This technical assistance program will be funded through the World Bank’s Reimbursable Advisory Services (RAS) instrument, which provides tailored services to middle- and high-income countries. Under RAS programs, the World Bank works with countries at their request, providing advisory services, services, and implementation support. The World Bank is then reimbursed for the costs of providing these advisory services. The work in Croatia is financed by European Union funds.