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Research excellence initiatives in Slovenia

Radojka Vercko,

Directorate for Science, Ministry of Education, Science and Sports of the Republic of Slovenia

This chapter reviews research excellence initiatives (REIs) in Slovenia. It discusses priority research and technology areas and measures adopted to build interdisciplinary research. The current CoE programme is Slovenia’s largest and most concentrated investment in research and development (R&D). The mid-term evaluation of the programme found signs of progress in international scientific excellence and in linking different spheres of research. The Ministry of Education, Science and Sports plans further support for REIs as a result of the performance of the CoE programme.

Policy setting in Slovenia

Slovene scientific and technological policy documents have always emphasised the generation of ideas and knowledge, acquisition of experience, delivery of products, services and technologies that are relevant for Slovenia, along with the efforts to enhance the mobility of researchers. In addition, Slovene research policy recognises the importance of research for social and economic development and the international nature of science for a small country like Slovenia. Research excellence has been supported by national programmes for basic and applied research; in the late 1980s a special initiative, the Young Researchers Programme, was set up and has continued, under several forms, until the present.

Nevertheless, there have been few instruments to stimulate and support interdisciplinary research in Slovenia’s national research system, even if it is known that such instruments can help meet the needs of the national economy. Such instruments require establishing priorities in technology fields that are of key importance for the economy’s international competitiveness and have potential for international recognition. The European Fund for Regional Development made such an instrument available in the form of the centres of excellence (CoEs), which are based on partnerships with the academic and industrial sectors. Their introduction addressed one of Slovenia’s main difficulties, the insufficient transfer of the results of the knowledge arising from R&D to products and services.

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