News archive - S&T in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

The following article gives an overview on the S&T system in the Former Yugoslave Republic of Macedonia. It is written by Viktor Stefov from the Ministry for Science and Education of the country and was published in the eJournal spring 07.

Responsibility for the use of nomenclature for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia lies within the authors, and in this regard the editors of the journal disclaim all responsibility.

The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Macedonia is responsible for science policy in the country, which is organised and executed by the Department of Science and Technology and advised by the Council for Science and Research.

The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for organisation, financing, developing and promotion of scientific research, technological development, technical culture, information technology and information
systems as well as the international cooperation related to these issues.
Considering the overall political, social, and economic conditions the country has faced during the past years, the funding of scientific research has been very limited. This has also been followed by a continuous decrease in the number of active researchers in the country. However, the Ministry has promoted and stimulated activities aimed at an integrated approach in research activities and especially for regional and international cooperation.
The Governmental measures for improvement of the R&D sector are defined in several programmes, which encompass programmes for improvement of R&D and programmes for enhanced technological development. The Ministry of Education and Science has seriously considered the problem of the technological development of the country, and in that regard, measures have been taken in order to stimulate and support cooperation between the universities and industry, improve and intensify the use of scientific research results in industry, and promote the technological development of enterprises aimed at stimulating their competitiveness.

During 2004 and 2005, for the first time, a complete database with publications in scientific journals with impact factors (journals referred to in SCI and citations of institutions and researchers) was created in the country. A database of all patent activities was compiled as well.

In 2005, the new Council for Scientific research was introduced. Furthermore, a completely new system of project evaluation was established with assigned national coordinators for each scientific discipline who manage the evaluation process of scientific projects in the respective fields.

In 2006, the Ministry of Education and Science signed an agreement for national access to the electronic scientific database Scopus, which is available for all faculties and institutes at the state universities in the country. Also in 2006, the Government accepted a “Programme for development of scientific research activities in the Republic of Macedonia for the period of 2006-2010”. The Programme was prepared in one year by experts and officials from all fields of science and future activities are set out in the Action Plan of this Programme. The new strategy for improvement of R&D defined in this document suggests an integrated approach to research activities characterised by necessity and quality. Increasing funding for R&D projects and for fellowships for young researchers is one of the priorities together with increased regional and international cooperation. Additionally, a definition of the national priorities in the R&D sector as well as an improved intergovernmental coordination between the ministries are emphasized as main concerns for the future development of the country. This strategy for the future science policy also includes a definition of criteria for supporting R&D, establishing a new peer evaluation procedure.

As one of the strategic objectives, five potential centres of excellence have been identified in the country based on their scientific results: Institute of Chemistry at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Research Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology at the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts; Nephrology Clinic at the Faculty of Medicine; Research Centre for Energy, Informatics and Material Science at the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts and the Institute for Earthquake Engineering and Engineering Seismology. They are recognised not only in the country, but also internationally due to their publications, citations and international cooperation.

During the last years, the Ministry has promoted and stimulated international cooperation in all fields of scientific research and technological development. This strategy has produced a substantial increase in international scientific cooperation with many countries, especially with the European Union Member States. The scientific cooperation has been realised through the Framework Programmes for RTD, COST, NATO, UNESCO, IAEA and JICA. The increased participation of the Macedonian scientists in the 6th Framework Programme should be especially highlighted. According to our data, more than 50 projects with our scientists have been approved, which is 4 times more than in the 5th Framework Programme. The Macedonian Government officially stated the willingness and readiness for improvement of science and research in the country and a full participation in the 7th Framework Programme. The Department of Science at the Ministry of Education and Science is an active participant in two large and important multilateral projects in the 6th Framework Programme (SEE-ERA.NET and ERA-WEST-BALKAN+), which enables a wider incorporation of Macedonia in European S&T activities. The participation of our scientists in the COST Program also significantly increased from 5 Actions in 2003 to 25 Actions in 2006.

The Department of Science creates European oriented science policy and, in every way, promotes, stimulates and assists in establishing international cooperation. Three years ago, there was bilateral project cooperation with Slovenia and Germany only. Then, this kind of cooperation was for the first time established with Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, France, Albania, the Russian Federation, Japan and China with more than a hundred bilateral projects. In the near future, cooperation with the USA, Israel, Austria and Spain will begin as well. Furthermore, there is an open call for joint project proposals with institutions from countries with which Macedonia has not signed agreements for scientific cooperation yet.

All these activities are intended to facilitate the incorporation of Macedonia in the European activities in the scientific research area, which has been recognised in the opinion of the European Commission for the status of this sector in the country, stating that in the fields of Science and Research the country should not have major difficulties in applying the acquis in the medium term.

Finally, the necessity of full understanding, coordination and support between the science policy makers and other decision makers should be emphasised because it is the only way for efficient and productive improvement of the scientific research and technological development of the country.

Entry created by Viktor Stefov on June 1, 2007
Modified on May 31, 2007