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Finland’s response to recession: more funds to research

Promoted by the global economic crisis, the new education, science, technology and innovation policy strategy, adopted early this month by the Finnish Science and Technology Policy Council, foresees increasing the national R&D budget to 4 percent of the GDP by 2011, with about 1.2 percent of this coming from the public sector. In 2007 to total R&D spending in Finland reached 3.47 percent of GDP (EUR 6.2 billion). With an investment boost of EUR 760 million Finland would surpass Sweden as the EU country with the highest R&D investment (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe November 2008). Similar R&D boost helped Finland get out of recession in the 1990s. Therefore, while money is scarce, and savings need to be made, the Finns believe that investment in research will pay off.

The common European goal in the framework of the Lisbon Strategy is to increase research investment throughout the Union to 3 percent of GDP by 2010, with two-thirds coming from the private and one third from the public sector. For the moment, this goal seems still remote – indeed, far too remote to be reached by 2010: the EU 27 average has remained around 1.9 percent for more than ten years and has even decreased since 2000. However, the Nordics are for certain the frontrunners in this race.