World Bank Supports Croatia in Improving Effectiveness of Investments in Research, Development, and Innovation

ZAGREB – The Minister of Science and Education, Radovan Fuchs, and the World Bank Country Manager for Croatia, Jehan Arulpragasam, signed today an advisory agreement under which the World Bank will provide technical assistance to support the Government of Croatia in enhancing the effectiveness of, and improving institutional capacity for, implementation of research and innovation policies in Croatia.

The advisory project will provide long-term technical assistance and inputs to the design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of research and development and innovation (RDI) policy during the European Union programming period 2021-2027.

This support is also needed for the implementation of an ambitious program of reforms of RDI policies set forth in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) and to help involved institutions make the most of the large amounts of public funds available for research and innovation.

Croatia has a unique opportunity to boost growth through additional stimulus from EU recovery and structural funds. A new and bold approach to RDI funding is needed to take full advantage of the EU stimulus package. Both the policy mix and the process, which includes management and control of funds, should be adjusted to better suit to the needs of the innovation ecosystem. Increased funding for R&D is an opportunity, but also brings the challenge of achieving desired results in terms of research excellence and innovation performance.

“In cooperation with World Bank experts, we will establish an effective and efficient system to design, implement and monitor and evaluate RDI policies. Such a system will help us to make the most of the opportunities offered by the new financial perspective of the European Union. Significant European Union funding, along with the necessary improvement of research and innovation policies, will contribute to achieving globally comparable scientific results and, knowledge transfers while fostering the competitiveness of the economy based on knowledge,” said Minister Fuchs, on the occasion of the signing of the agreement.

The Strategic Partnership for Research, Innovation and Growth (SPRING) advisory program consists of three components and will last until mid-2026. The first component will provide inputs for the update of the next Smart Specialization Strategy in order to improve its intervention logic, entrepreneurial discovery process, governance, and M&E framework. The purpose of the second component is to provide targeted advice throughout the implementation period of the Smart specialization strategy and raise institutional capacity for RDI policy. The third component will support upgrading the existing M&E framework and prepare its practical implementation.

“Data and experience show that effective use of funds for R&D and innovation leads to growth and productivity increases as well as creation of high skilled jobs, especially in smaller and younger innovation-oriented firms. This is of particular importance in times of this health, social and economic crisis,” said Jehan Arulpragasam, World Bank Country Manager for Croatia and Slovenia. Effectively using RDI funding is an opportunity for Croatia to boost innovation potential. We are very pleased that Croatia has again chosen the World Bank to partner in this effort.”

The World Bank has been a partner to Croatia for over 27 years. During this period, the Bank has supported more than 50 projects, worth almost US$5 billion, produced numerous studies, and provided technical assistance to help strengthen institutions and support the design of policies and strategies. The Bank’s current program focuses on mitigating the economic and social impact of COVID-19, post-earthquake reconstruction, transport, justice, innovation, business environment, land administration, science and technology, and economic development of the Pannonian region.

This technical assistance program will be financed using the World Bank’s Reimbursable Advisory Services (RAS) instrument, which offers customized services to middle and high-income countries.Under RAS programs, the World Bank works with countries at their request, providing advisory services, analytical services, and implementation support. The World Bank is then reimbursed for the costs of delivering these advisory services. The work in Croatia is being funded by the European Union Funds.

 

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