22-04-2024

3 000 Lithuanian researchers funded by the Research Council of Lithuania last year, with over EUR 60 million allocated for research and experimental development activities

Last year, the Research Council of Lithuania (RCL) funded around 3 000 researchers who conducted over 1 000 research and experimental development (R&D) projects. Nearly 1 100 students, including 500 PhD students, have benefited from targeted incentives. Funding for R&D projects increased substantially, with a total of over EUR 60 million allocated for R&D projects in 2023 (from the state budget and EU structural assistance). The publication of RCL's 2023 annual results demonstrates proactive efforts in advancing research development in the country's priority strategic fields, fostering innovation, and attracting scientific talent.

In 2023, RCL's budget increased by more than EUR 17.9 million compared to 2022, with a higher share of the state budget allocated to fund RCL activities and competitive research endeavors. EUR 42.4 million was earmarked for R&D activities in 2023, representing 0.059% of the GDP (compared to 0.033% in 2021 and 0.041% in 2022). Further funding growth is anticipated, with over EUR 52 million allocated for R&D activities in 2024.

“State investment in research and experimental development has increased significantly in recent years. This has opened up new opportunities to invest in cutting-edge science, essential for the dynamic development of our country and society. Finding value-creating research investments with high impact potential has become an important challenge for RCL in 2023.We have realised that we can only find and bring together the best research teams and research groups to create innovations that can make a significant contribution to our country’s prosperity if we have a transparent and efficient system of competitive research funding that is trusted by the research community. In our opinion, a trust-based research funding system is one of the most important factors that allow us to produce and retain the most talented male and female scientists in our country and to become an attractive place for global talents from other countries to start their academic career, especially at the early stage of their career, right here, in Lithuania”, says Gintaras Valinčius, the Chairman of the Research Council of Lithuania.

R&D assessments performed, new funding tools developed

Last year’s comparative expert assessment of R&D activities of universities and research institutes in 2018–2022, carried out by RCL, was of great significance for Lithuanian research and study institutions. The results showed that half of the Lithuanian institutional units of assessment are engaged in research activities of a high international standard in at least one of the research fields. Based on the results of this assessment, 70% of the basic funding from the state budget will be allocated to Lithuanian universities and research institutes over five years to develop R&D activities in all scientific areas. “I am particularly pleased to note that the post-assessment survey of representatives of the assessed institutions showed that the work carried out by RCL was positively evaluated by the research and study institutions themselves. This shows that the academic community trusts us and that RCL has properly planned and implemented all the assessment processes and procedures”, emphasizes dr. Gintaras Valinčius.

Last year, new financial tools were created to address issues of importance to the Lithuanian state and society, to influence the development of the country and science, and to contribute to the development of the knowledge society and new competences. In 2023, the RCL has launched a call for proposals for the new programme Breakthrough in Educational Research. In anticipation of a breakthrough in the field of educational research and to strengthen teacher training programmes and improve the quality of education and pupils’ achievements, the programme will receive EUR 15 million (2024–2027). A new targeted programme, “Information technology for the Development of Science and Knowledge Society”, has also been prepared, with the first calls already launched early this year. The results of these measures are expected to be visible not only to the scientific community, but also to society, the public sector and business.

Investments made in young researchers

According to dr. Gintaras Valinčius, young people are one of our main investment targets. “We need to invest in talent, because only talent can generate immeasurable value in advancing science to meet society’s needs and expectations in the most diverse areas of our lives. RCL actively develops measures that involve students of different cycles in scientific activities, encourage them to choose a scientific career, to deepen their skills and learn through activities, and young scientists - to stay in science, to improve their competence”, the Chairman notes.

In 2023, RCL has allocated EUR 1.4 million for targeted student incentives - summer internships and research during semesters. These funds were awarded to 587 students who came from Lithuania and abroad and carried out research in Lithuania. PhD students also received financial incentives, with almost 500 doctoral students receiving EUR 2.3 million last year.PhD studentswere funded for competitive doctoral studies, academic trips, international conferences, internships, summer schools to improve their scientific qualifications, increase their international mobility an d support the international dissemination of research results. RCL has allocated EUR 4.8 million for postdoctoral fellowships in 2023.

Increased internationalisation and support for Ukrainian researchers

RCL aims to strengthen international cooperation between Lithuanian and international researchers, and the main instruments for achieving this are bilateral and multilateral programmes and EU funding schemes. In addition to the ongoing programmes with Japan, France, Poland, Ukraine and the Nordic countries, RCL signed new international agreements last year. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is signed with the National Science and Technology Council of Taiwan (NSTC), as part of the Government’s strategic objectives to develop relations with Taiwan. The Memorandum agrees that the two countries will fund joint projects between scientists from Lithuanian and Taiwanese higher education institutions and research institutes in the areas of biotechnology, laser and materials science, engineering and information technology. Up to EUR 5 million is earmarked for collaborative research projects, seminars and workshops through research groups between 2024 and 2027 (the RCL and the NSTC, EUR 2.5 million each).

To support and promote the integration of Ukrainian scientists into the global research community, RCL has joined a multilateral international initiative to build a resilient education and science system in Ukraine. RCL plans to spend EUR 400 000 on this initiative in 2024–2025.

In 2023, RCL continued to provide support to Ukrainian scientists and researchers to carry out research activities in Lithuanian research and study institutions. Last year, 86 Ukrainian scientists were recruited and 15 joint Lithuanian-Ukrainian research projects were funded. Support for these measures amounted to EUR 2 million.

Successful participation of Lithuanian applicants in Horizon Europe

RCL has strongly developed RCL’s advisory activities for Lithuanian applicants wishing to participate in the Horizon Europe programme. “We believe that one of our key objectives is to return to the State the funds paid into the European Research and Innovation programme. Last year, we provided more than 1 300 consultations to our scientists, organised almost 80 events, and looked at various angles to help Lithuanian researchers win grants and bring EU research funding to Lithuania. I am pleased that our activities in this area have been really effective, as Lithuanian applicants - scientists and innovative companies - have received as much funding from the Horizon Europe programme in the last three years as they did in the whole of the previous seven years, i.e. the funds received amounted to EUR 94 million in 2014–2020 and EUR 99.7 million in 2021–2023[1]. The success factor has increased by over 7% during these periods, from 13% to 20.7%”, says dr. Gintaras Valinčius, delighted with Lithuania’s successful participation in the programme.

In addition to advising researchers, RCL has been actively involved in the Horizon Europe programmes and last year ranked 5th[2] among Lithuanian organisations participating in the projects of this programme, receiving EUR 4.15 million in EC grants for project implementation.

Promoting science-business cooperation

One of RCL’s strategic directions is strengthening cooperation between science, business and government through productive joint projects. In 2023, more than EUR 3.6 million was invested in joint R&D projects between science businesses, focusing on technological development, internationalisation of science, and the transfer of scientific knowledge to spin-off companies. In total, there were 64 such projects in 2023, successfully carried out by both research and study institutions and businesses. In order to strengthen science-business networking, to support research institutions and small and medium-sized enterprises investing in innovation and development of new products, services and processes, RCL actively participated in the international cooperation Eureka Network with countries such as Norway, Finland, Croatia, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Ukraine, Austria, Germany, Israel, Estonia, South Korea, Switzerland, South Africa, and other.

The focus will be on the qualitative dimension of research assessment

In 2024, RCL will continue to pursue its goals of promoting and developing scientific progress and innovation. “We will actively develop competitive research funding tools and support instruments for researchers to promote scientific progress and knowledge-based innovation. We will make sure that taxpayers’ money is invested in the boldest ideas from our country’s scientists, with the greatest potential for social and economic impact. We hope that these ideas will be implemented by the most talented male and female scientists of our country, actively involving young researchers in scientific research and developing the new generation of talented people who will build Lithuania. In this new phase of our work, we face a number of challenges - to develop and implement qualitative methods for assessing research projects and proposals, in line with the international COARA initiative, and to ensure high quality expert work, both in the project selection area, and in the preparation and submission of proposals to the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania and to the Government on issues related to the research and study policy. RCL also faces significant challenges in reducing the bureaucratic burden on scientists and researchers, as well as challenges related to the penetration of artificial intelligence technologies into all areas of academic life”, notes dr. Gintaras Valinčius.

The full RCL Activity Report for the year 2023 in Lithuanian can be found here

A short version of the RCL Activity Report in Lithuanian is available here.

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Contact for media


Solveiga Ramanauskienė

Chief Communications Officer of Research Council of Lithuania

Tel. +370 676 42 056
E-mail:
[email protected]

 

[1] Source: Horizon Dashboard, January 2024

 

[2] eCorda data, 14-12-2024