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Seven Consortia to Get EUR 45M to Set Up Competence Centres

Ljubljana, 10 November (STA) - Seven consortia out of 22 that applied in a competition for development of competence centres in 2010-2013 have been chosen to receive a total of EUR 44.7m to start setting up their centres at the end of the year, Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Gregor Golobic said on Wednesday.

In the competition, which is based on the EU's Europe 2020 development strategy, 85% of the funding will come from the European Regional Development Fund and the rest will be provided from the national budget.

Each consortium will get almost EUR 6.4m, but they will have to add some start-up funds itself, as the total start-up costs for the seven centres are expected to reach around EUR 60m, Golobic noted.

The Higher Education Ministry has chosen seven applicants in line with seven priority fields it had set to focus on specialisation in the fields where Slovenia can be successful - processing technologies, energy efficiency, bio-medical technologies, sustainable construction, food and health, network systems and services, and user platforms and interfaces.

Applicants had to consist of at least two public research organisations, four companies with separate owners and an institute, but the minister pointed out that individual consortia in the competition had as many as 9-18 companies, research organisations and institutes.

According to Golobic, this is an important instrument in the continuing efforts of the higher education and the economy ministries to strengthen Slovenia's innovation capacity by funding certain R&D activities of Slovenian companies and especially by encouraging links between the institutions of knowledge and the innovative economy.

Public investment in R&D in Slovenia increased in 2009 over 2008 by 23% and reached 0.78% of the GDP, but the government would like the share to reach 1% in 2012, Golobic noted.

He stressed that Slovenia is one of the rare European countries that increased the funds for this purpose in the economic crisis, adding that this is crucial for the future of Slovenia.

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