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Implementation of the programme

During 2004-08 Slovenia’s first round of CoE programmes was mainly financed from the European Union (EU) structural funds. Ten centres were financed with a total of about EUR 15 million for three years.1 An evaluation of the economic relevance of this instrument demonstrated that the centres are, despite certain shortcomings, a good way to support co-operation between the public and industrial sectors. The CoEs were evaluated in November 2008 with a focus on the economic relevance of the results and programmes.2

The evaluation exercise concluded that the CoEs are one of the few instruments promoting an interdisciplinary approach to R&D and are therefore well suited to the needs of the economy. They help to concentrate resources and R&D efforts on technology areas that are crucial for the competitiveness of the economy. They contribute to the efficient flow of knowledge and applications to products and services. The evaluation report proposed that the measure should be continued.

The positive feedback encouraged the government to publish a call for eight new CoEs in 2009-13. The tender represented Slovenia’s biggest investment ever in R&D, with available funding of around EUR 85 million. EUR 77.5 million were awarded to eight CoEs. The budget for individual CoEs ranges between EUR 8.4 and 10 million. The eight centres chosen, out of over 60 applications, are in the fields of:

  • • nanoscience and nanotechnology
  • • biosensors, instrumentation and process control
  • • chemistry and biology of proteins
  • • low-carbon technologies (hydrogen and lithium batteries)
  • • non-metallic materials (ceramics)
  • • plastic materials
  • • space science
  • • nuclear magnetic resonance studies.

The research programme of each CoE focuses on the transition to an energy-efficient economy based on a low-carbon society. The eight CoEs have a total of 107 partners, of which 68 from the business sector and 39 from research organisations. The annual expenditure for R&D enterprises involved in the CoEs is EUR 270 million a year, as much as the Government of Slovenia allocated for R&D in 2009.

The consortia were requested to form a new legal entity managed by the partners. These new entities employ 420 researchers, of whom one-quarter are from industrial partner organisations.

In this four-year period the CoEs focus on reaching goals and indicators of the Operational Programme for strengthening regional development.

In 2011, the Ministry performed a mid-term evaluation to see whether the goals set by each centre were going to be reached and if there was any room for improvement for the programme.

 
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