For research to bloom

For research to bloom

As elections approach and all parties present their vision for Greece, it would be useful if they stated their position on the vital issue of research and development in our country. Research creates ecosystems which encourage young researchers and bring home those who moved abroad, it leads to applied research which boosts the economy, it strengthens the country in crucial sectors such as health, defense and education. Even more important is the fact that research is one of the areas in which a country of Greece’s size, and with its good human capital, can achieve significant results. Among these, it can inspire greater self-confidence and daring as we face the challenges of today and tomorrow.

Why then are research and development in Greece at a lower level than those achieved by other countries (and by Greeks abroad)? The percentage of GDP spent on research is lower than the EU average (1.5% versus 2.2%) but still, the results could be better. According to people who know what happens in other countries and in ours, the basic problem is the fragmentation of the research environment. This leads to wasted funds and the lack of a single strategy and coordination. Tertiary education, which is by definition research, is cut off from research centers. There is a dearth of cooperation which could be fruitful. The private sector’s involvement is minimal.

But which party would dare to adopt the idea of a National Research Organization, or even ministry, which would unite all forces and funds in a single national strategy? Which would overcome obstacles and fiefdoms, freeing academics, researchers and entrepreneurs? Which would give the country room to grow? We need an answer quickly. Because, as Spyros Artavanis-Tsakonas, head of the National Council on Research, Technology and Innovation, stressed at the Delphi Economic Forum Thursday: “Research is not a luxury. It is a necessity.”

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