Carovska and Despotovski: Innovation vouchers awarded to 34 scientific research projects

The Fund for Innovation and Technology Development today presented the results of the first Public Call for Innovation Vouchers, which supports 34 scientific research projects. The projects are intended for development of new products and services with higher added value, and it will be cooperated with domestic companies and higher education institutions from the country on these projects. This is the first such instrument in North Macedonia, and the goal is to engage all capacities of the state in creating accelerated economic growth.

The public presentation of the results was addressed by the Minister of Education and Science, Mila Carovska, the director of FITD Jovan Despotovski, and was hosted by the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Skopje, represented by the Dean PhD Darko Danev.

Minister Carovska stressed that the real sector saw the need for investment and application of academic knowledge in business development.

"And from here on begins a new way of investing in science, which is the main commitment of the Ministry of Education and Science and the Government, wanting to see what will be those products that will imply additional value for the economy, but also for the development of science in our state, which is very important to us as the Ministry of Education and Science. "The percentage of investments from GDP in science has been small so far, but in 2021 we want to increase it through such interactive and two-way communica-tion and coordination between the two sectors," said Carovska.

Director Despotovski said that as of today the implementation of 34 projects begins, on which domestic companies and the academic community will work together for economic development.

"This is the first systemic solution that institutionalizes this direct cooperation. What is important is that the funds from the state go directly to the universities, and the companies are users of their service. With such targeted measures we want to encourage scientific research and to directly involve the academic community in the economic strengthening of the country”, said Despotovski.

The Director of the Fund announced a new set of measures for direct support of the scientific research activity in the country.

Dean PhD Darko Danev expressed gratitude to the state and the Fund that recognized the academic community as a serious link in the chain of development of the state and provided specific financial support.

"This in itself is proof that academy needs industry to support it, but that connection is mutual, and we need the industry. This relationship is unbreakable and must always be nurtured if we want to progress and prosper. I want to encourage colleagues from all faculties to get involved in the cooperation with industry because only in that way what we do will reach the companies, and what we have done will be an example for the students," Danev said.

The public call was open from 01.10.20 to 14.10.20 and for the first time the principle of allocating funds was introduced according to the principle "first come - first served", i.e. according to the order of submission of complete applications. During this period, 77 applications were received, of which 16 were ineligible or incomplete.

The total amount of funds in the public call amounts to 15 million MKD and they are awarded to faculties and research centers. The innovation vouchers cover up to 80% of the total costs of the scientific research services, in a maximum amount of 500,000 MKD. The remaining 20% is participation by the company, user of the services of the faculties. The deadline for the realization of the funds from the vouchers will be six months. 

The funds will be used to develop new and improve existing products, processes or services; technical specification, production of laboratory prototypes, development of demonstration prototypes, various types of testing, technology validation, advisory services related to innovation activity, development and introduction of special software for product or process, as well as for specific training related to development of technological solutions.

Among other things, companies and universities will work on the development of a system for remote sensing of mining complexes with the help of drones, development of a model of fan rotor for air flow, valorization of waste plastic material to obtain recyclable profiles for installation in water pumps for watering.

According to the analysis, 68% are projects of the University of St. Cyril and Methodius, 26% of the University of Goce Delchev Shtip and 6% of the University of St. Clement of Ohrid from Bitola. The companies they will cooperate with are mostly startup companies 71%, namely micro (16) and small (15) enterprises, and medium (3). 21 of them are new users, while 13 are already using funds through other FITD instruments.

According to the projects, there is a representation of a number of industries, and the technology industry, information technologies, construction industry, electronics, energy and energy resources are predominant.

In the next period, a new public call for Innovation Vouchers will be realized, and a new FITD instrument for support of research and development is being prepared. The 17 companies following the last approved application are on the waiting list and will be considered as the first to arrive after the next public call.

You can see the results of the call on the following link.