December 2, 2021

Beyond Going Long

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The state can move like a company.  He just has to introduce innovation

The state can move like a company. He just has to introduce innovation

From an innovation standpoint, Slovakia is disastrous. According to surveys, we have a sad few startups per million inhabitants, have not made long-term progress in the global innovation potential rankings and are investing more in innovation below the European average. How can we change that? How do you deal with the surrounding developed countries? Can we be the best at something? This was discussed by experts in economics, business and education coordinating the ITAPA OPEN TALK discussion on the topic of how to make Slovakia a creative force during the 20th ITAPA International Conference. So what is their recipe and what came out of the survey among the participants of the ITAPA 2021 conference on the same topic?

We want an educated Slovakia for the next generation

First educated, then green and fair. These are the three most important directions our country must take in the coming years. This emerged from an unofficial survey of the conference ITAPA 2021 Among the hundreds of professionals and ordinary people from the private and public sectors. The vast majority of them – up to 60 percent, if only one option were possible — would like the next generation to grow up in educated Slovakia, 12 percent would like to see an ecological country and 10 percent would like to see a fair one. However, for this to become a reality, several important steps are absolutely necessary: ​​to have an excellent education system (36% of respondents), a well-developed innovation support system (16%) and investment in technology, science and research (13%). We will not act without this, and if we do not do so now, efforts to move Slovakia forward will stop only in the form of discussions. This was agreed by all the experts who spoke on the second day of the conference in the discussion forum Open Etapa Chat.

At the same time, it all begins and ends with the quality of education, which then reflects the state of innovation and investment. “The level of education is alarmingThe former finance minister and reformer said Evan Miklos, based on analyzes comparing the level of education between generations in Slovakia. “The current young generation is worse off than the generation that studied in the middle of the last century. The situation is catastrophic at all levels of education.He added that most young people leave Slovakia precisely because of the poor quality of universities. The current government recently launched a massive reform of education, thanks to funding from the Recovery Plan. According to the ministry, this will include changes to curricula, teacher education, and more support for innovation and modernization of teaching. “We will do everything to support the best. But the problem is that every university in Slovakia thinks they are the best in science and research. We will rely on data and prepare a way to reallocate resources so that the best universities and students get them.,” He said Martin KanovskyResponsible for the strategy and concept of science, research and higher education in the education sector. His point is clear – the system must be changed so that universities feel responsible for improvement, and if that happens, they will be rewarded. But conditions must be created for them.

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Photo: ITAPA

We have a few startups

We need to attract investors with high added value and significantly high labor productivity. We urgently need high-quality education and educated people who are ready for it, “He said Open Etapa Chat Successful Entrepreneur (IT), Developer and Investor (Pixel Federation) Peter Luchsch. According to him, there will be no leaders in Slovakia without a good education, and without leaders we will not move forward.

Innovation is one area where we as a country have huge debts due to poor quality of education. Emil VitusThe head of the IT Federation of Slovakia stated, that our problem is also unnecessarily high ambitions, which cannot be realized and then end up in a drawer. “In terms of innovation potential, we were almost 60th in 2016-2017, behind countries like The Gambia, Ivory Coast and Bulgaria. Today, Slovakia has 75 startups per million inhabitants, Austria once, but Estonia, for example, reaches 865Vitus described the situation in ITAPA OPEN TALK.

However, Estonia can also be proud of its high-quality education. According to the PISA world school rankings, secondary schools in Estonia are already at a very high level. The situation is the same in universities there. Collaboration between university students and the business environment is a common practice in high-quality universities abroad. “In Denmark, for example, there is a clear link between universities and companies that assign students projects they need to solve. Then the students in groups solve the problem. We must also have some form of cooperation that will allow students to get involved in real business as quickly as possible.He talks about his own experience Andrei KrupaCo-founder of the startup Simplicity, which he now also works with in US Silicon Valley. At the same time, he adds, we lack bright business examples from universities that could, for example, set a positive example of success in a decade. At the same time, it is important for the economy of any country that young entrepreneurs gain experience abroad, and then willingly return to the startup ecosystem. Something like this commonly works in the successful Baltic states.

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Photo: ITAPA

Innovation Driven Economy

Different types of IT applications. It was in their production that Slovakia could excel by one generation. This was stated by the absolute majority of voters in a poll at the ITAPA conference. However, today the problem is clearly defined – Slovakia is stuck in a middle income trap. In translation, this means that the country’s economy was driven by efficiency of production in the past, but has reached a point where it is no longer sufficient. At this point, according to Evan MiklosIt is a shift from an efficiency-driven economy to an innovation-driven economy. Therefore, if we want to get rid of the Slovakian labels for the assembly part, which was also the goal of the Deputy Prime Minister and Head of Informatics. Veronica RemisovaIt needs to work on improving public administration, public services and the business environment, reducing red tape and corruption, increasing labor market flexibility, quality education and investing in innovation.

businessman Peter Luchsch He noted that the state has the ability to move forward and so does the company. “Business grows organically or inorganically. Organic growth is gradual, through process improvement, hiring of skilled people and the like. The company grows inorganically, for example, by acquiring other companies engaged in similar businesses, which have skilled people focused on a related field. In this case, growth is faster. In the case of the state, it is the same. Through innovation the country will be able to move forward dramatically in this way,” he said. He also added that as a small country, we can work not so much on basic research, but rather on applied research, which is closely linked to industry.

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The fact remains that today Slovakia spends only 1 percent of its GDP on innovation, while in the European Union the average is 2.2 percent. according to Dusan VelicMinister of State of the Ministry of Investment, Regional Development and Informatics of the Slovak Republic, on the one hand, considers support for innovation in our country disastrous, but on the other hand, assures that resources are growing. “Here, however, it must be said, willingly or unintentionally, that science, research and innovation is a business like any other. If you invest, you have a chance that something will work out. If you don’t invest, nothing will come out. This problem is long-standing and needs to be reconsideredAt the same time, the fact of channeling money plays a big role here. At the same time, experts are raising a finger of caution here. Today, two-thirds of public sources and only a third of private sources go for innovation. However, the opposite is a common practice in the world – More resources should come from the private sector. Velic also added that in the near future they plan to establish regional innovation centers and the state will support them with €100 million.When a company feels that its innovation has a chance to move forward and that everything is working optimally in the country, it is ready to invest sufficiently.” Concluded businessman and investor Peter Luchsch At the ITAPA conference, which has been bringing new impetus and inspiration to the digitization and modernization of Slovakia for 20 years.

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