President of the Republic of Lithuania

Speech by President Gitanas Nausėda at the video conference "Strengthening Lithuanian science and innovation policies for the implementation of Horizon Europe“

2020-05-28

Dear Madam Commissioner,

Ministers,

Professors,

Business Representatives,

It is a great pleasure to welcome you all to this video conference dedicated to shaping the research and innovation policies of Lithuania and the European Union.

I have initiated this discussion for several reasons.

First, we need a breakthrough. For more than two decades now all political parties in Lithuania have been declaring the importance of making research and innovation a top priority. However, the structure of our economy is not changing at the pace that we would all wish. “Business as usual” is no longer relevant. Year after year, various international innovation scoreboards display the same indicators. The Commission keeps on issuing the same recommendations to Lithuania on the need for change in this area.

In Lithuania, R&D spending is lower by almost 2.5 times than the EU average. Lithuania’s budget expenditure stands at half the EU average, while the level of private investment is four times lower.

Lithuania’s success indicator in the Horizon 2020 programme is merely 14.4 percent. Even though the share of EU funding is gradually increasing, Lithuania ranks 26th in terms of the programme’s budget share and 24th in terms of its participation in programme projects.

I would like to take the opportunity of the presence of Commissioner for Innovation and Research Mariya Gabriel at this video conference. It is very important to design the EU instruments in such a way that the gap among EU member states in research and innovation would diminish.

Second, the newly launched political cycle in the European Union, the EU strategic agenda, negotiations on the MFF as well as fight against COVID-19 and its consequences provide us with an excellent opportunity in Lithuania and the EU to reassess our priorities, streamline our efforts and make the necessary political decisions.

Just yesterday, the European Commission presented a new proposal on the EU multiannual financial framework and the European Recovery Fund, which will be also used to enhance the green deal, the digital agenda, the internal market and industrial independence as well as to fund innovation and research.

We have to be ambitious and find niches for Lithuania: to be the first to come up with new business models, products and services and also to create a legal environment for their development. Innovation and creativity, tolerance to failure and readiness to manage risks should become part of daily life for each and every politician, civil servant, businessman, and scientist. 

There is sufficient proof that this is the way we already are. I have in mind our growing sectors of life sciences, green and information technologies, Lithuania’s fourth position on the Global Fintech Index as well as its lead in the global supply of scientific lasers. 

We also need to see the importance of cross-sectoral links that were so clearly revealed in managing the economic and social consequences of COVID-19.

It’s good that these issues are being discussed in one way or another within the context of developing the National Progress Plan for 2021 -2031.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Digital, Innovative and Green Lithuania is my deal.

We need to take into account the good practices of other countries – here I would like to thank Professor Mundell, Chief Scientific Officer from the UK, who will be sharing her insights about UK science and innovation policy.

I will stress once again that “Business as usual” is no longer relevant, we need a new creative approach and bold decisions.

So, with due respect to other presented recommendations, I would like to single out four of them: 

  • Seeking consistency in the development of research and innovation policies, better coordination, stronger links between policy makers and policy implementors, I propose to consider the appointment of the State Chief Officer for Research and Innovation and to create a network of representatives responsible for research and innovation across state institutions.
  • Following the recommendations of the European Commission, I also propose to redesign the structure of science and innovation policy implementing agencies in order to consolidate their activities.
  • We need to come up with incentives that would encourage an early engagement of science and education establishments in Horizon Europe. Our science and business communities need a simple and sustainable financial solution.
  • And fourth. Lithuania needs to place stronger focus on expanding our international links and strengthening Lithuanian competence to participate in Horizon Europe.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am confident that this discussion and the package of recommendations will serve as a sound basis for future engagement.

Our politicians, political parties that have started drafting their programmes for the forthcoming elections, civil servants, business and science communities could make the necessary decisions in order to achieve a breakthrough in research and innovation policies.

It will speed up the transformation of the Lithuanian economy. It will enable more efficient participation in newly designed EU programmes and financial instruments.

Thank you for your attention.

Gitanas Nausėda, President of the Republic of Lithuania

Last updated 2020.05.28 11:11

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