Ministry of Finance plans new mechanism for research funding

3/29/19

In 2019, a new contest-based mechanism for research funding is implemented. The National Research Fund established in the summer of 2018 will be selecting research works of Ukrainian scientists and providing grants to them irrespective of which institution they report to. The allocation in the state budget for the work of the Fund in 2019 is equal to UAH 262 million, which is approx. 4% of the total national research budget.

Grant institutions operate in most developed countries; their task is to provide granting support to the best research projects in a contest-based procedure. At last, Ukraine has such an independent organization too – it is non-commercial and receives funding from the state budget. The National Research Fund is a new player in the field of science, and I hope that it will make life easier for scientists, halt the brain drain, create favourable working conditions for talented researchers and improve the quality of the research work,” said Deputy Minister of Finance Yuri Dzhyhyr.

Research funding is one of the key priorities of the state budget, and the Government increases its research budget every year. In 2018, more than UAH 8 billion were provided to boost the scientific potential and creation of competitive products in Ukraine, which was 20% higher compared to 2017. The Government used these funds to pay for the education of research professionals, training of young scientists, fundamental and applied research, development of the scientific and research infrastructure etc. In 2019, the research funding allocation in the state budget is equal to more than UAH 9.3 billion, which is almost 10% more compared to 2018.

The Ministry of Finance is now considering ways to improve the financial support for research conducted by scientific institutions reporting to line ministries and other bodies of executive power. This year, 16 ministries and other bodies of executive power have received approx. UAH 476 million for research projects of institutions reporting to them (so-called “sector research”).

In the end of 2018, the Science Committee of the National Council for the Development of Research and Technology also emphasized the importance of the improvement of the funding mechanism for “sector research” based on the reports of the main entities entitled to manage the state budget funds.

Presently, the research work itself accounts for only a minor part of the work of scientific institutions that report to the respective line ministries and other bodies of executive power. They normally execute service (technical) functions developing new regulations as well as collecting and analysing data. Their scientific activities are not linked with the similar activities of academic and university research centres reporting to other entities entitled to managing the state budget funds.

This system of distribution of the state budget funding for “sector research” does not motivate scientists to conduct research aimed to achieve tangible results. It leads to the ineffective use of the respective budget allocations for scientific work.

This is why the Ministry of Finance is seeking to streamline the structure of scientific institutions belonging to different sectors and to switch them to the grant-based funding scheme for research projects as well as to integrate them with the leading academic and university research centres working in the same sectors.

Deputy Minister of Finance Yuri Dzhyhyr pointed out that quality indicators must be implemented for the “sector research” and that funding must be provided to research
projects that are most promising, innovative and competitive at the international level.

We are changing our approach to funding research – we will be focused on concrete tangible results, which will help unfold and support the scientific potential of our country. The new approach means a switch from the all-in funding to a contest-based financial support for research projects that have the highest priority for our country, including the funding to be provided by the National Research Fund. The selected members of the National Research Fund are scientists with significant achievements who enjoy a high level of trust in the science and research community. Hence, the best research projects will be selected by really independent experts in an open and transparent way excluding any possibilities for corruption,” Yuri Dzhyhyr said.

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