Visit by World Bank Delegation

The World Bank delegation consisting of Dr Ramesh Mashelkar, President of the Global Research Alliance, the former President of the Indian National Science Academy, Dr Swaminathan Sivaram, member of the Indian Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Dr Vinod Goel, Financial and Private Sector Development of the Europe, Central and East Asia and Pacific Region, Richard Adams, PhD, Innovation expert and Mrs. Sirin Elci, director of Technopolis Group Turkey, visited the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.
The delegation was received by Nikola Hajdin, President, and the talks were attended by academician Dimitrije Stefanovic, Secretary General, and academician Đorđe Šijački.
Within the Project of support for innovations in Serbia, the delegation carries out the analysis of scientific and research institutions therefore, a visit to the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts was arranged. This visit to Serbia is aimed at analyzing the circumstances in the science and research sector and considering the problems that are to be solved to improve the overall position of science.
Academician Nikola Hajdin briefly informed the guests about the Academy's role in the society, its participation in national and foreign research projects and its main problem – insufficient financial support. Allocation of funds for science-related purposes amounts to 0.3 % GDP, what amount is a way too small to carry out any modifications in the science and research sector and accelerate development. In addition to that, the participation of industry in scientific research financing is also insufficient both due to its obsolescence and lack of interest from large companies – company owners.
The presence of political factor in shaping the scientific policy and finance-related decision making - what is uncommon in the world - was also mentioned. One of the key problems in Serbia is a “brain drain” and no link between its scientific diasporas and the home country.
The guests commented on the method of managing and decision making (robust scientific councils, lack of system effectiveness). These things largely hinder the development and improvement. It is essential to recognize and support high-quality young researchers and give them an opportunity to work and advance.
President Hajdin underlined that it is necessary to suggest our Government adopt a more efficient model for managing the science and research sector (in particular, by merging the science and higher education within one ministry) since the Academy's earlier attempts to do so were not successful.
The World Bank representatives talked about investment programs this institution provides to help the development of science.
Dr R. Mashelkar, who is also a member of the British Royal Society, pointed to the change that has been happening over the last six-seven years in this Society, which change is related to the evaluation of research and innovation work in the process of electing new members. In the earlier years the only criterion for admission was the quality and number of research papers published. However, in the last few years more and more significance has been given to practical work results which provide a direct benefit – whether through material gain or improvement of overall quality of people's lives or work.
The talks ended with a conclusion that a strategy should be developed based on a realistic assessment of capacities and needs of science and society.