Knowledge to save Greece?

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26 oktober 2011 | How can Greece become more competitive and create growth to survive the present doldrums? Thinktank RAND Europe urges the Greek government to unleash the potential of its R&D sector. To do so the government would need to fight bureaucracy with structural reforms. Seven key points for reforms are identified as urgent.

The Greek government called upon RAND Europe for advice onreforming its ailing R&D sector. On behalf of the Ministry ofEducation, Lifelong Learning and Religious affairs, RAND created aSWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) ofwhere Greece stands and what it should do now.

SWOT analysis

In the paper, RAND thoroughly evaluates where GreekR&D performs well while neglecting other areas that need urgentreforms. On the positive side, Greeks seem to be quite adept at channeling EU funds into its research sector. However,RAND criticizes the Greek government for not having anynational strategy that prioritizes fields of excellence. Widespreadbureaucracy and micromanagement have crippled the innovativeness ofGreek research efforts.

Main message from the reportis that Greece should now launch much neededreforms and create a cohesive national strategy on researchexcellence. Unleashing the full potential of the Greek R&Dsector might be a more sustainable answer to the current Greek debtcrisis.

Seven Priorities

The report outlines the following seven priorities for futurereforms:

  1. Articulate a national R&Dstrategy. The government should consider publishing ahigh-level R&D strategy that sets out a long-term vision forthe Greek R&D system, including achievable objectives andassociated milestones over the short term.
  2. Facilitate the consolidation of the researchsystem. The Greek R&D system is fragmented, withsmall research groups not achieving critical mass. The RCs could bereorganised towards achieving critical mass with a disciplinaryand/or geographical focus.
  3. Establish a Greek National Research Foundation(NRF).  The majority of Organisation forEconomic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and European Union (EU)countries have independent NRFs. A similar entity could beestablished in Greece to fund excellent research throughcompetitive merit-based international peer review.
  4. Support the next generation of researchleadership. An estimated 20% of senior researchers inGreece will retire over the next five years. Combined withrestrictions on recruitment, this creates a threat to thesustainability of the R&D system. Consideration should be givento establishing a fellowship scheme for the leading midcareerresearchers in Greece who will comprise the next generation ofresearch leadership.
  5. Create government demand forresearch. Government could act as an intelligentcustomer for research to inform its decisions and policy making. Tofacilitate this demand for research-based evidence, each majorpolicymaking department of government could have a chief scientistor researcher.
  6. Create industry demand for research through publicsector procurement. Innovation procurement exploitsthe purchasing power of the state to stimulate demand for newtechnologies, products, services or business processes by reducingthe innovation risk for the private sector.
  7. Establish a performance monitoring and evaluationframework and cycle. Once a clear strategy has beenformulated, a performance monitoring and evaluation framework andcycle should be established. This would provide the evidence baseto support a learning and adaptable system which can be held toaccount for its use of public money

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