By Mehdi Garshasbi

R&D still unappreciated

January 2, 2021 - 17:58

The national budget bill for the next year (March 2021-March 2022) was submitted to the parliament on December 2, but the research and development sector has remained unappreciated like the previous years so that its share of the national budget is less than one percent of the gross domestic product.

The current year is coming to an end as the country is grappling with arrays of difficulties arising from sanctions, and the next year is forecast to be tougher as the coronavirus pandemic has added to economic hardships.

Under these circumstances, paying special attention to scientific and research projects can certainly pave the way for removing the extant obstacles.

Although the sixth national development plan has envisaged that four percent of GDP will be allocated to the research and development sector by 2025, the sum is just less than half a percent, indicating that the goals of development are still far away to be achieved.

According to Statista, one of the world's leading statistics portals, South Korea was the leading country in the world by allocating 4.35 percent of its GDP to research and development in 2020.

Declining budget

Vahid Ahmadi, a former official at the Ministry of Education, says that unfortunately, the research and development’s share of the national budget has decreased from 0.65 percent in the [Iranian calendar] year 1397 (March 2018-March 2019) to 0.58 percent in 1398 and to 0.43 percent in the current year 1399.

Mahmoud Nili-Ahmadabadi, the chancellor of the University of Tehran, believes that the research and development sector’s share of the country’s GDP, in the most optimistic case, is 0.4-0.5 percent, way below the global average of two percent. “So, not all the potentials of the universities are utilized.”

However, Gholamhossein Rahimi, the deputy science minister, says that the share of research and development is hoped to increase to 075-0.77 percent in the next year’s budget bill, although necessary infrastructure should be already provided to make the most use of the budget.

Scientific achievements

Sourena Sattari, vice president for science and technology, has said Iran is playing the leading role in the region in the fields of fintech, ICT, stem cell, aerospace, and is unrivaled in artificial intelligence.

Iran ranked 43rd among the 100 most vibrant clusters of science and technology (S&T) worldwide for the third consecutive year, according to the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2020 report.

The rate of scientific contributions of Iranian researchers to the world increased from 17 percent in 2011 to 31 percent in 2020, becoming the world’s leading country in science diplomacy with 14 percent growth, according to scientific studies and analyses extracted from the Scopus International Citation Database.

Moreover, the country ranked third for the highly cited researchers in the world among Islamic countries in 2020, according to the recently published report of Highly Cited Researchers by Web of Science.

Currently, there are 43 science and technology parks in the country, in addition to 195 accelerator centers, in which over 7,000 companies are active, including 1,700 are knowledge-based companies.

MG

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