Rand: reform R&D to revivify Hellenic economy

The Greek research system should be overhauled to help boost economic growth, a government-commissioned review has found, as the state-reliant sector faces a squeeze in the nation's debt meltdown.

October 20, 2011

International policy research group Rand Europe identifies several shortcomings in Greece's current research and development set-up. These include heavy bureaucracy and micro-management, little support for technology transfer, a lack of entrepreneurialism and irregular, unreliable funding streams.

The report, titled A Rapid Review of the Greek Research and Development System, also says there is little collaboration between industry, universities and research institutions, and few incentives to attract and retain good young researchers.

It adds that Greece has low levels of public and private R&D investment, with the system too dependent on the former and European Commission funds.

State finance could be hit by more budget cuts as the debt-laden nation is forced to shrink its public sector to comply with European Union rules, and stiffer competition for Commission cash could make things worse. Demoralised and ageing researchers and constraints on hiring are also cited as problems.

"Developing a vibrant innovation ecosystem within Greece is critical to future economic development," said Jonathan Grant, a co-author of the report.

"There are some examples of where Greek researchers have been good at converting these low levels of investment into research outputs and, in some cases, translating this into social, health and economic benefits. However, these ... are too sparse to drive R&D-led growth."

The report proposes a blueprint for reform, including the foundation of a Greek national research foundation and strategy. Other solutions would involve greater collaboration between research councils and universities at home and abroad, and a reduction of red tape.

Universities and research bodies could also take on government departments and industry as commercial clients to boost income, the review says.

jack.grove@tsleducation.com.

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