The World Bank has approved an extension of a $ 48 million (43 million euro) loan to Serbia, to be used to support economic development based on knowledge and innovation.
The financing will support improvements in the relevance and excellence of scientific research, with the potential to be commercialized on the market and provide access to finance for enterprise growth in Serbia, the World Bank said in a statement
In addition, the project will support the newly established Science Fund and introduce a special programme promoting collaboration between local researchers and entrepreneurs with those in the Serbian diaspora.
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“Only around 0.9% of GDP is invested in research and development (R&D), well below the EU average of 2.03%, with most funding coming from the government. This indicates that the private sector is severely underinvested in R&D and innovation, suggesting market failures and the need for public financing and other structural incentives to accelerate market innovation, “said Stephen Ndegwa, World Bank Country Manager for Serbia, in a statement.
Apart from supporting the institutional development and governance of the Science Fund, the project will finance selected competitive programmes, such as basic science grants, applied research grants with incentives for promoting public-private links in the R&D community, and incentives for enhancing collaboration with the EU partners.
The loan will also support the acceleration of the enterprise programme of Serbia’s Innovation Fund through co-investment grants. The acceleration programme is designed to improve mentoring, access to investors, and entry to new markets for innovative firms. The programme will be implemented in two segments – one for the early (idea) stage and the other for growth (scale-up) stage companies. Each segment will help up to 20 companies.
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