ECONOMY

State wants to help use research to boost businesses

Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and officials from the General Secretariat for Research and Technology (GSRT) yesterday launched a publicity drive over the actions supported by the secretariat and their impact on the economy. GSRT General Secretary Yiannis Tsoukalas said that the GSRT’s mission is to facilitate businesses in «exploiting the innovative results of research efforts» and added that, thus far, Greek industry has failed to take full advantage of such opportunities and that Greece languishes toward the bottom of the league among the old 15 EU member states in productivity gains due to innovation, while the EU itself is falling further behind the United States, despite such highly publicized calls to arms as the Lisbon Agenda. «Take the so-called ‘Chinese invasion,’» he said, referring to dramatically increased imports of cheap clothing from China. «While we, and most of Europe, are trying to stem it by erecting new barriers and with repressive measures, in the US they are already thinking forward to the next revolution, the so-called smart fabrics (which adapt to changing weather conditions),» he said. The GSRT supports efforts for the transfer of technologies to production, with the aim of providing higher-quality goods and services, at lower prices, to a larger number of people. The present government, Sioufas said, has allocated more money, about 730 million euros, to promoting research and technology and has also upgraded the National Council for Research and Technology, now headed by world-renowned research physicist Dimitris Nanopoulos. It has also managed to accelerate inflows of EU funds, although, as Dimitris Trichopoulos, a professor of Epidemiology at Harvard, observed, «often more money means more trouble» unless the programs approved are subject to peer review by competent scientists. What was missing from the presentation was any private sector presence, making it appear that that research and technology is the sole responsibility of the state. Tsoukalas even claimed that large enterprises cannot be innovative. That is debatable, although it is safe to say that they can be very useful in funding research.