Lithuania

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Following a 15% plunge in GDP in 2009, the Lithuanian government launched broad economic reforms. Combined with spending cuts and tax rises, these led to a quick recovery in 2010. Since then Lithuania has been one of the fastest- growing EU economies, with GDP rising by 3.6% a year on average over 2010-13. It has launched a National Innovation Development Programme (NIDP) 2014-20 to support competitiveness and economic growth through innovation. Implementation of the programme is being prepared.

Hot Issues

Hot Issues are major national STI policy priorities, as self-reported by countries in their responses to the OECD STIO 2014 policy questionnaire.

Improving the governance of innovation system and policy

Creating a coherent R&D and innovation system is a long-term challenge and a strategic goal for NIDP 2014-20. Until recently, lack of co-ordination of R&D and innovation policy by the responsible ministries led to fragmented and incompatible policies and weakened outcomes. In 2013, the Strategic Council for Research, Development and Innovation, led by the prime minister, was formed to co-ordinate STI policy and to manage the setting of priorities. The Science Council has become the Research Council, which is actively involved in competitive research funding, and an Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA) was established to foster industry-science co-operation and to create a friendly environment for business innovation. The recent preparation for smart specialisation strategies (RIS3) is an example of improved governance, with enhanced evidence-based decision-making and the involvement of all stakeholders.

Encouraging innovation in firms and supporting entrepreneurship and SMEs

BERD is very low as a share of GERD (26.6%) and of GDP (0.24%). Lithuania has few large corporate R&D investors (Panel 1e). It ranks 17th on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index (2014), ahead of many OECD economies. Since 2007 it has promoted private- sector R&D activities through the Intellect and Intellect+ programmes, with USD 299 million (LTL 479 million) over 2007-13. Since 2010 it has encouraged business-science co-operation and commercialisation of public research results through the innovation voucher programme with USD 4.4 million (LTL 7 million), and since 2012 it has strengthened technology transfer through MITA with USD 12.8 million (LTL 20.5 million). Public support for business R&D totalled USD 315.4 million (LTL 504.6 million) over 2007-13. Such instruments are expected to continue under NIDP 2014-20. The Entrepreneurship Promotion Programme 2014-20 is being prepared and will contain objectives for the development of innovative entrepreneurship by improving access to finance and implementing various initiatives.

Addressing challenges of STI globalisation and increasing international cooperation

Lithuania’s connection to global R&D and innovation networks is below the OECD median, as suggested by its international co-authorship and co-invention (Panel 1q, r). Since 2007, it has addressed international STI co-operation by promoting various types of clusters. In particular, MITA’s promotion of the internationalisation of business-science partnerships, with USD 2.3 million (LTL 3.7 million) over 2007-13, led to the formation of ten clusters. The initiative that promotes the development of networks and co-operation in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) focuses on the internationalisation of SMEs. Through the BSR Innovation Express Call in 2013, 28 new international collaboration projects were established, involving more than 900 SMEs. It attracted 47 applications from cluster organisations and business networks in the six funding partner countries. Four of these applications involved Lithuanian undertakings, all of which were approved.

Reforming and improving public research system (including university research)

Although Lithuania has few leading universities (Panel 1b), higher education institutions account for 53.7% of GERD and the government sector for 19.7%. In 2009, the Parliament adopted a Law on Higher Education and Research to reform and restructure the higher education and research system. Reforms have focused on improving quality, accessibility, competitiveness and efficiency. A shift towards programme-based competitive funding increased the share of competitive R&D funding to one-third of overall R&D funding. The reorganisation and consolidation of HEIs and PRIs introduced new governance mechanisms in universities and colleges and increased their accountability, and external and independent evaluations were introduced. IPR frameworks were developed for inventions made in HEIs and PRIs. Adopted in December 2012, the National Programme for the Development of Studies, Research and Experimental Development for 2013-20 outlines further objectives for developing higher education, research and innovation systems.

Strengthening public R&D capacity and infrastructures

Over 2007-13, the R&D Programme for Co-operation between Public R&D and the Business Sector – Integrated Research, Higher Education and Business Centres was implemented to improve R&D infrastructure and research capacities through the integration of R&D, education and business innovation. Five integrated science, education and business centres have been created, with a total investment of USD 670 million (LTL 1 099.7 million) in material science and electronics; biotechnology, environment and ICTs; bioenergy, forestry and food technologies; marine environment and technologies. Public R&D capacities have also been promoted by strengthening the skills of researchers, through the Researchers Career Programme with a total of USD 391.9 million (LTL 627.2 million) over 2007-13.

Country Charts

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Selected Highlights

New sources of growth

In 2013, the Strategic Council for Research, Development and Innovation identified six priority areas: energy and sustainable environment; inclusive and creative society; agro-innovation and food technology; new materials and technologies; health and biotechnology; transport, logistics and ICTs. The Programme on the Implementation of the Priority Areas of Research and Development and Innovation (Smart Specialisation) was adopted in 2014, with 20 R&D and innovation priorities.

New challenges

Several national programmes focus on green innovation. These include the Lithuanian National Strategy for Sustainable Development and the Green Industry Innovation Programme (funded by the Norwegian Financial Mechanisms 2009-14). In 2013, the Ministry of Education and Science launched new national research programmes on social challenges: Modernity in Lithuania; Welfare society; Towards future technologies; Healthy ageing; and Sustainability of agro, forest and water ecosystems.

Clusters and regional policies

Two major programmes implemented during 2007-13, InnoCluster LT and InnoCluster LT+, focused on the promotion of clusters. With USD 48.7 million (LTL 78 million) over 2007-13, these programmes created 30 clusters and invested in R&D infrastructure. The government launched the process of identifying smart specialisation priorities in 2012, involving key stakeholders; they will involve the above-mentioned six priority areas. A project launched in 2013 also aims at fostering the internationalisation of SMEs, clusters and science partnerships and networking activities (Klaster.LT).

Globalisation

The Ministry of Education and Science has developed an Action Plan for Promoting the International Dimension in Higher Education for 2013-16. The Research Council of Lithuania supports application for and participation in EU Framework Programmes and has developed scientific exchange programmes with EU members and Switzerland. The Ministry of Economy has several programmes to promote the internationalisation of SMEs and clusters, such as initiatives in co-operation with Norway, Israel and the Baltic Sea Region countries.

Skills for innovation

Lithuanian has a well-educated population: 31% of adults have completed higher education and 15-year-olds perform reasonably well in science, with a Pisa score between the United States and Hungary. The 2012-16 national priorities include a strong focus on the development of mathematics and informatics skills and curricula. Various programmes support researchers’ career development, promote top-performing international researchers, encourage researcher and student mobility, develop skills training and the hiring of skilled personnel in firms, and disseminate knowledge about science and technology among students. Several new projects for the promotion of innovative start-ups and spin-offs have recently been launched by the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology. They include the new technological entrepreneur ship projects Innovative Business Promotion and Technostart, which promote the commercialisation of research results and create opportunities for young researchers to develop their ideas and establish new technological businesses in Lithuania. The projects bring together the largest Lithuanian universities, S&T parks, and other research institutions.

Recent developments in STI expenditures

GERD increased over the last five years to USD 640.6 million (LTL 1 025.5 million) and accounted for 0.9% of GDP in 2012. Most of the increase came from funding from abroad, largely from the EU. Government spending on R&D in 2012 was USD 255.6 million (LTL 408.9 million), a 6% increase from 2009. The government’s goal is GERD at 1.9 % of GDP by 2020.