16.03.2017

RRPP Conference "Challenges and Opportunities for Scientific Research Funding in Macedonia" held

On 16 February 2017 the Foundation Open Society Macedonia (FOSM) organised the closing conference Challenges and Opportunities for Scientific Research Funding in the Republic of Macedonia within the RRPP National Policy Dialogue.

The conference gathered around 100 participants, including scientific staff from public and private higher education and science institutions, representatives of university management, non-governmental research organisations, individual researchers, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science, and the media.

The aim of the conference was to promote the newly designed model for funding scientific research activity (SRA) in the Republic of Macedonia and to share experiences and lessons learned from similar processes in Estonia and Slovenia, as well as to receive feedback and discuss possible ways of moving forward.

In her welcoming speech, HE Sybille Suter Tejada, the Ambassador of Switzerland to Macedonia, reflected on the role of science and research in social development in general, as well as the role of the Swiss development support in Macedonia. The Ambassador pointed out that, regardless of the support from the international community, it is the governments, research communities and the media from the region that should have the key role in the advancement of scientific research activity in the future. Fani Karanfilova-Panovska, FOSM’s executive director, emphasised that public policies based on research facts and inclusion of all interested parties in the process are vital for creating successful public policies.

Aleksandra Dimova Manchevska, Local Coordinator of the RRPP in Macedonia, presented the results of a survey conducted by the University of Fribourg on the RRPP’s influence in Macedonia, and the lessons learned during the project. The respondents consider all kinds of support provided by RRPP as very important or important, especially the research grants, methodological/thematic trainings and networking. According to the survey results, RRPP has had a serious impact on the development of individual and institutional research capacities, and the creation of a research community that is able to meet international standards in social sciences research. RRPP contributed toward brain-circulation, but also toward providing research freedom and independence.

Irena Cvetkovic presented an overview of the process of creation of the proposed model, focusing on the challenges that the research community in Macedonia is facing, the implemented activities and the research methodology. The proposed model for funding scientific research activities foresees the establishment of the Agency for Scientific Research. Cvetkovic stated that in this model, special attention is paid to young researchers, and that their inclusion in all forms of support is of vital importance.

The authors of the model are professors Snezana Bilic and Emilija Simoska. Prof. Bilic highlighted that the Agency for Scientific Research will be competent for transparent, efficient and effective implementation of the National Programme of Scientific Research Activity, as well as for international cooperation. The primary activity of the Agency will be announcing and implementing open calls for activities from its scope of authority. The Agency will be an autonomous and independent state body accountable to the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia. Prof. Bilic also presented the Scientific Research Entities and Forms of Support.

Prof. Simoska’s presentation focused on the decision-making procedures for funding the activities from the Agency’s scope. The model is based on four key principles – transparency, competitiveness, expertise and accountability. It has to guarantee continuous funding of scientific research and it has to be legally binding. The funding procedures for scientific research projects and scientific papers and books are thoroughly regulated in the proposed model. Other forms of support (programmes of special national interest, international cooperation, development of young research staff and research infrastructure) are also included in the model, but they should be regulated by statutory instruments or annual programmes, as Simoska concluded.

Participants from Estonia and Slovenia shared their experience in the third part of the conference. Madis Saluveer, Funding Officer at the Estonian Research Council, focused on the instruments of public funding as a precondition for the successful development of the research and development system in Estonia, while prof. Mitja Zagar, member of the Scientific Council at the Slovenian Research Agency, talked about the organisation and funding of scientific research in Slovenia.

Video from the conference is available at the following link: https://youtu.be/FoBSKBxW92I.

More info on the proposed model can be found here. Available also in Macedonian.

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