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Informing innovation policy in Central and Eastern Europe

12 December 2014

Research on innovation policy in Central and Eastern Europe by Professor Slavo Radosevic has influenced policy in Slovenia and Belarus, and been used to assess the policies of new EU states (Bulgaria, Slovakia and Slovenia). His work has also influenced how the EU funds research through FP7 and Horizon 2020.

Innovation is a crucial and growing determinant of the competitiveness of economies - not only in terms of driving economic progress and human wellbeing, but in meeting global challenges such as climate change. There is also an increasing realisation that governments have an important part to play in nurturing innovation. Whereas mainstream economic perspectives focus on the business and legal environment as the major determinant of growth, this neo-Schumpeterian approach focuses on an economy's capacity to create technological change.

Yet even as this perspective becomes more popular, low- and middle-income countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union face specific challenges in upgrading support for innovation: as Professor Slavo Radosevic (UCL School of Slavonic & East European Studies) argues, they seek to implement policies in a context of simultaneous government and market failure, and thus require a new approach rooted in system and capability failure. He has shown how the transition from socialism has affected innovation capacity in these countries, and how their innovation policies should be adapted to become more conducive to growth.

In 2010, Professor Radosevic advised Slovenia on its innovation policy as the team leader of a policy mix group which led to the adoption by the National Assembly of the Resolution on Research and Innovation Strategy of Slovenia 2011-20. Thanks to the redesign of the Slovenian strategy for smart specialisation, Slovenia was able to draw on European Structural Funds in 2014-2020. In 2014, Professor Radosevic assisted the Croatian Ministry of Economy to improve its smart specialisation strategy and thus meet EU requirements for drawing on structural funds.

In Belarus, a report co-authored by Professor Radosevic led to the implementation of laws on innovation policy and intellectual property, as well as presidential decrees changing public financing to support innovation, and increasing funding for the Belarusian Innovation Fund.

The influence of Professor Radosevic as coordinator of the international expert group on innovation and growth in new member states under Czech EU presidency  contributed  to the inclusion in the seventh framework programme (FP7) on EU research funding in 2010 of a specific call within the programme for research proposals on 'Addressing cohesion challenges in Central and Eastern Europe'.

FP7 came to an end in 2013. As a member of a group advising the EU on research policy in the knowledge economy, Professor Radosevic's recommendations on cohesion policies and smart specialisation strategies as the approach to innovation and growth within EU Structural Funds influenced the design of the new EU research policy, Horizon 2020. Based on this work, he was invited to evaluate smart specialisation strategies in new EU member states (Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Slovenia) and recommend improved implementation. 

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