A Dialogue between the State, Business and Science is essential

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“Science and Businesses drive innovations” was the main topic of the panel hosted on Thursday, the 29th of May, by the government office of the Czech Republic and the KAS at the Liechtenstein-Palais in Prague.

The conference focused on recent challenges in the field of science and research in central Europe, especially with regard to the implementation of strategic priorities and how these are related to the fostering of competitiveness of central European countries. The main mechanism with which issuing of strategies for science and research could qualitatively be improved should be, according to the participants of the conference, an institutionalized dialogue between the state, businesses and science. In this framework, the state should have a proactive role with the main focus on coordinating and supporting the key players during the issuing of policies for science and research.

Werner Böhler, the director of the KAS in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, opened the panel with an introduction speech on how crucial research, innovation and creativity are for European countries which lack essential recourses. According to Dr. Böhler, these European countries must focus on the above mentioned three key aspects in order to secure prosperity and a comfortable lifestyle.

He added that it is not only important to settle on finical means but also on how to invest them efficiently. As long as projects lack sustainability there is no potential in using these investments for strengthening prosperity for a country. Dr. Böhler therefore concluded that it is inevitable to create a working state administration which provides a suitable framework for future policies regarding Science and Research and in which the dialogue between the state, businesses and science is promoted.

The keynote speakers were on the one hand deputy prime minister of the Ministry of Innovation, Science, Research and Technology, Mr. Pavel Belobradek and on the other hand former Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia and also Federal Minister of Education, Science, Research and Technology, Mr. Jürgen Rüttgers. Furthermore, the panel was moderated by Mr. Petr Simunek, editor-in-chief of FORBES magazine in the Czech Republic.

In his speech Mr. Belobradek commented on the current policies regarding Science and Research in his country and stressed his ambitions to where he wants the policies to be heading in the future. According to Mr. Belobradek, the Czech Republic lacks a key aspect for creating innovations which is implementing them successfully. Furthermore, he points out four problematic trends in this regard.

Firstly, the Czech Republic lacks Startup companies because the fear of failing outweighs the ability of risking an investment. Secondly, students from High schools and Universities chose their subjects by thinking about what they like and not by where they might have a successful career. This leads to the fact that many students face difficulties finding a job with their degree. Thirdly, the Czech Republic lacks a long term strategy and a design for the alignment, their capacities and a scope for development. Additional fundamental problems can be found in the lack of young human resources, high fees and charges, instability in the legal system, administrative and regulatory burden and Universities which release unqualified personnel onto today’s labour market. Mr. Belobradek therefore wants to focus on the engagement between Science and Research policies with competiveness, education in combination with a clarified and reinforced strategy. The Czech Republic should, according to Mr. Belobradek, promote companies which work together with high schools in order to provide training for future employees. This, however, is already an issue which is being discussed with the Ministry of Education. In order to avoid further complications, Mr. Belobradek suggested that there should be a central authority which would strengthen its efficiency with regard to the distribution of EU funds.

Mr. Belobradek concluded his speech by highlighting the importance of the industry which he identified as the backbone of Czech Republics economy. He stressed that also in this sector it is necessary to establish a link between education, coordination and worked out strategies.

In his speech former Minister Jürgen Rüttgers presented his point of view regarding Innovation and Research policies in combination with today’s economy. He identified the future changes as a transformation from the current industrial society towards a civil society of science. A new production factor will be knowledge, a raw material which in comparison to the traditional ones, multiplies when shared with others. According to Mr. Rüttgers, knowledge doubles every 5 – 7 years. Technological process and innovations can not be taught but are a product of creativity. The state should be able to realize and act on this, said Mr. Rüttgers. He then recalled that former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl suggested creating a Ministry of the Future which should work on strategies for the economy of tomorrow.

Not only Mr. Belobradek but also Mr. Rüttgers stressed the importance of the industry. Industry is, according to Mr. Rüttgers, the foundation of innovation and progress. He pointed out that 23% of Germanys GDP are a represented though its industry. A great number of European Member states which struggle with their domestic economy lack industrial production.

The future will change the nature of production. Modernisation of technologies will be of importance. An example would be machines in a company, able to communicate with each other and controlling their own production process. In this scenario, human resources would only be needed at the beginning of production. Due to this automation of production, efficiency could be increased by almost 30% which would have a significant impact on the competiveness of companies. In this context, Mr. Rüttgers gave the example of shopping online which is a current upward trend.

In order to realise strategies promoting Science, Research and Innovations it is essential to have a working infrastructure, functional economic polices and the willingness to seize the opportunities ahead of us.

Following the panel there was a private discussion forum with politicians and experts from central European countries which debated on different topics. These topics included the development of human recourses and defining priorities for Science, Research and Innovations in central Europe.


Alena Resl

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Czech Republic, June 3, 2014