The majority of scientific development in the region is funded by foreign sources, although countries ' new strategic plans aim to bolster research and keep talent at home.
By Anes Alic for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo -- 05/01/13
Most of the funding for science and research in BiH comes from foreign sources. [Anes Alic/SETimes]
Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is increasing support for scientific research in an effort to improve its dismal rating in a World Bank study.
The World Bank ranks BiH 113th out of 114 countries in the study of national financial support for scientific research and advancement. Nearly all funding comes from abroad, luring young intellectuals to migrate. Only Gambia ranked lower in the 2010 report.
Damir Marijanovic, Sarajevo canton's education, science and youth minister and former chief of FBiH's forensic genetics laboratory, told SETimes that the government aims to address the collaboration gap between research and industry.
"There is no collaboration between research and industry, and research institutions have insufficient infrastructure. The main problem is that science institutions are dependent on budget funds and the climate is that it is more important to have good political connections rather than a good scientific background," he said.
The BiH government established a countrywide council on science last year and published a 10-year science development plan.
The plan calls for nearly half the funds allotted by the budget to be allocated to natural and technical sciences, 30 percent to medical and biomedical sciences and 20 percent to social sciences and the humanities.
Currently, BiH budget funds are allocated to cover the costs of doctoral dissertations, which have fueled criticism that the government is effectively funding students whose aim is to leave the country.
"According to our study, two-thirds of educated youth want to leave the country permanently or for a long period," Rusmir Pobric, project co-ordinator at the Institute for Youth Development, told SETimes.
Forming of the council is also in response to the lack of a state-level science and technology ministry. Currently, two entities in the country have jurisdiction over scientific development -- and funding for it.
Jurisdiction in FBiH is further divided among the entity's 10 cantons.
Officials said BiH's science strategy stipulates that each entity shall allocate 55 million euros for the sector beginning in 2012, with the amount progressively increasing.
While it took two years to produce the strategic plan, implementation suffered a setback. By the time the strategy passed, it was too late to incorporate it in the 2012 budget, and for fiscal 2013 government funding is insufficient to meet this goal, officials said.
The lack of financial support for science and research is not uncommon in the region, but other countries are looking to correct the problem as well.
Serbia allocates 0.3 percent of its annual GDP to scientific research, and recently passed a promising strategy for science development, though progress in implementing it is lacking.
Macedonia is also putting together a national strategy for science and research for the next three years. Most research and development in Macedonia is done in co-operation with foreign universities.
Romanian scientists bemoan insufficient funding as well, despite the country's access to vast EU funds and demonstrated interest by the scientific community to utilize them. Romania has 103 research institutes and 30,000 scientists who publish approximately 10,000 articles annually, but the sector's contribution to GDP is only 0.4 percent.
Biljana Lajmanovska in Skopje, Igor Jovanovic in Belgrade and Gabriel Petrescu in Bucharest contributed to this report.