Advisory report 8: Maintaining science and innovation as a priority

Through an efficient and effective budgetary growth path

ADVIES 8: Wetenschap & Innovatie als prioriteit aanhouden

The outgoing Flemish Government has brought Flanders close to the European 1% standard for public spending on research and development. This is good news, but we must not rest on our laurels. The absolute frontrunners such as Switzerland and Germany are more ambitious and set their goals higher. If we want the Flemish region to reach the international summit, the new Flemish Government must keep its focus on science and innovation unchanged and make an additional effort of 500 million euros by 2024.

The 500 million euro should be used as meaningfully and intelligently as possible and strive for maximum efficiency, leverage effects and return on investment. In its 8th advisory report, VARIO makes a proposal for such a budgetary growth path. According to VARIO the additional resources should be used according to a forward-looking, well thought-out multi-annual budget, based on an overarching, coherent R&D&I strategy that preferably span two legislations. It would also be wise to start with a consolidation period of two years after the large budgetary step-up of 2019. But also during this consolidation period, a minimum step of 30 million euros per year is needed to ensure that we keep pace with GDP and do not fall back in our pursuit of the 1%. In VARIO's proposal, the major steps of an average of 150 million euros will be needed from 2022 onwards. In order to guarantee a maximum return on investment, VARIO sees five major components in the growth path: (1) strengthening existing budgetary channels; (2) responding to new trends; (3) co-financed innovation budgets in support of government-wide goals; (4) international cooperation; and (5) accompanying measures such as support for STEM, lifelong learning.

In a separate report, VARIO presents the underlying analysis of the R&D&I budgetary allocations of the successive Flemish governments, from the Innovation Pact (2003) up until 2019.