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Peer Review of the Moldovan Research and Innovation System

The report presents the outcome of the Peer Review of the Moldovan R&I system, carried out by the independent panel of PSF experts between November 2015 and July 2016. It explains the rationale supporting each of the key Policy Messages highlighted upfront in the report and discusses the 24 specific recommendations, clustered into thematic areas. Case studies from other countries supplement the narrative by presenting good practice examples that could facilitate the implementation of the recommendations by the Moldovan authorities.
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In line with this framework, the Panel considers that Moldova should:
1. Embed Research and Innovation (R&I) policy in the overall economic policy strategy of the country. Improving synergies between Moldova's R&I strategy and the country's overall socio-economic ambitions is key. This cannot be reached without ambitious reforms of the national R&I system, strong and determined priority-setting, and continuous involvement of stakeholders in order to generate an ownership of these reforms.
2. Improve the governance of the national R&I system by strengthening the political responsibility for R&I with a dedicated Ministerial responsibility. The panel is not convinced of the added value of the inter-ministerial Council for R&I announced by the government.
3. Create an independent, transparent and accountable R&I implementation Agency which concentrates and allocates all available R&I funding on the basis of international standards. The combination of a Ministerial responsibility for R&I policy-making with an independent Agency that manages R&I funds will allow the Moldovan Academy of Sciences to focus on its role as major research performer in the country.
4. Redress the binary research and education system of Moldova, whereby universities are mostly concentrated on "teaching" and institutes on "research". The circulation of knowledge and human resources throughout the country's public system is now more essential than ever before. Incentives for cooperation between universities (where the young generation studies) and research institutes (with ageing research staff) should be a driving force of the reforms.
5. Safeguard the public R&I capacity of Moldova by ensuring that the physical, intellectual and human capital of its research institutions is maintained and eventually reinforced. In return, systematic evaluation procedures for public research organizations and higher education institutions should be set up to progressively link public R&I funding to performance in the medium-term, thus rewarding quality research. In addition, the share of competitive funding allocated to R&I needs to be increased to stimulate competition.
6. Take resolute action to improve the employment and funding opportunities, working conditions and career perspectives of researchers, including notably young and female scientific talents. Open and merit-based recruitment practices and structured and high-quality PhD programs are essential to modernize the system. Salaries, in particular for entry levels, should be revisited and scientific achievements should be rewarded.
7. Urgently review the framework conditions for innovation by putting in place a coherent set of policy measures to create and stimulate a supportive environment for business engagement in R&I activities, including both non-financial tools (a legal environment supportive of spin-offs and knowledge transfer, better opportunities to fund risky projects) and the increased use of public funding to leverage business R&I activities. In relation to the latter, the panel is of the opinion that the artificial administrative barrier of accreditation for allocating R&I funds to the business sector should be abolished.