With this recommendation the VRWI wants to pass the message to the entire Flemish Government that, in spite of necessary cost-cutting measures, the budget for science and innovation should be safeguarded and even get a boost.
In other Western countries, where the crisis strikes as hard as here, investments in research and development were spared. On the contrary, the budgets were often even strengthened. If Flanders continues to cut in the budgets for science and innovation, the objective to become a top 5 region and to reach the 3% goal will be difficult to attain.
Therefore, it is imperative that the Flemish Government moves up a gear. In any case, for this legislative period a multi-annual plan for science and innovation must be set up, linked to a multi-annual budget. Obtaining the public share of (1/3) of the 3% goal must remain the intention. If, because of budgetary reasons, this is not feasible in 2014, the VRWI recommends an annual growth rate of 8%. This corresponds to the growth rate of the last 15 years and allows the Government to reach the 1% goal before 2020, the EU 2020 target date.
Also the Flemish companies must make further efforts for the renewal of our knowledge-based economy. Here the Government can be an important lever.
The VRWI endorses the principle of the announced TINA Fund. This Fund offers a possibility to reverse the downward trend in investments in innovation of firms by the creation of new ways to translate O&O results into economic activities.
One-off efforts however, will not be sufficient. A further structural reinforcement of all links of the knowledge and innovation chain, by increasing the means of the existing funding channels and instruments, remains crucial if we want preserve the enormous knowledge potential that was created in Flanders in the most recent years.