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Govt Presents New Financial Instruments Promoting Development

Ljubljana, 11 April (STA) - The higher education and economy ministries have drafted a national research and innovation strategy until 2020. Its goals are to be achieved through various development instruments, which the two ministers presented at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) on Monday.

According to Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Gregor Golobic, the strategy focuses both on efficient management of the research system, where changes are planned in the functioning of the Technology Agency (TIA) and the Public Agency for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investments (JAPTI), and the strengthening of human resources.

The two ministries are therefore planning to offer EUR 18m in funds in a public call for applications in May to strengthen development taskforces at companies.

The call for applications will include less red tape and will be open longer than usual, until 2014, Economy Minister Darja Radic told today's presentation.

"Unless we start forming development groups at companies we'll get nowhere," Radic said, adding that the money was intended for enhancing the work of existing groups and the forming of new ones.

The government will co-finance employing of young researchers and developers at companies, hiring of top experts for the transfer of know-how in specialised research areas as well as training in Slovenia and abroad.

Companies will no longer be required to show receipts but results to justify the state funding. On average, the state will chip in about 50% of the total value of individual projects.

Since 2009, the Economy Ministry co-funded projects at 3,500 companies, the minister said. In 2009, it allocated EUR 275m to the cause and in 2010 EUR 290m. This year, it plans to support another 1,800 companies.

Among the instruments to promote research and innovation are also guarantees for various loans intended for development projects, while companies can also seek aid as part of university and business incubators and technological parks.

Golobic also pointed to various measures which his ministry has already introduced to encourage development and noted that two additional instruments involving favourable loans for the financing of development projects were planned for this year.

One was published recently by the Slovenian Enterprise Fund, while the other will be carried out by the SID export and development bank. So far, the state has contributed EUR 100m in grants for the two instruments with a loan potential of some EUR 300m.

Business executives mostly welcomed the changes, especially the cutting of red tape and the duration of the public calls.

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