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Croatia’s recovery plan aims to ‘revamp’ research funding system

Image: BATMANV, via Shutterstock

Plan proposes major reforms and includes almost €1 billion of investments for research and education

Croatia’s reform and investment plan for its €6.4 billion share of the EU’s pandemic recovery fund includes a performance-focused “revamp” of research funding, according to the European Commission, and almost €1bn in knowledge-nurturing investments.

Croatia can begin investing up to 13 per cent of its share of the EU fund, after its plan was approved by EU finance ministers on 28 July, having previously gained the Commission’s support. Investment of the rest of the share will be dependent on hitting agreed milestones.

In total, the plan sets aside just over €995 million for education and research, with about €677m earmarked to fund education reforms and about €319m for research and innovation, according to a Commission summary published on 28 July.

Changes include “improving” institutional funding for universities and institutes “to incentivise scientific excellence and to promote research collaborations and knowledge transfer through the introduction of performance-based funding”, the summary says.

Croatia will also increase its investment in research infrastructure and try to make research careers more attractive—for example, by offering fellowships for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and introducing a career development framework tailored to different disciplines.

The summary highlights current weaknesses in Croatian R&D, such as government support programmes that are “heavily skewed” towards large companies and “limited” links between universities and industry.