Moldova is a small land-locked country with a population of approximately 4 million inhabitants bordering on Romania and Ukraine. In spite of the difficult social and economic situation Moldova has retained a functioning education system and a downsized research system.
The EU-Moldova Association Agreement was signed in 2014 and fully entered into force in 2016, establishing a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) and the Visa-free travel to the EU granted to Moldovan citizens. In the field of research and innovation Moldova became the first Eastern Partnership Country Associated to the EU’s Horizon 2020 (H2020) programme in 2014.
Under its Enlargement and Integration Action (E&IA), the JRC provides scientific and technical support to Horizon 2020 Associated Countries. Within this action S3 platform helps Moldova to identify economic competitive advantages and exploit the innovation potential, building on a process of entrepreneurial discovery for smart specialisation.
The JRC Smart Specialisation Framework for EU Enlargement and Neighbourhood Region is adopted on a voluntary basis by the countries interested in applying this EU-made innovation policy concept. JRC provides methodological support and guidance via its Enlargement and Integration Action, which so far has helped 13 EU Neighbours. Additional support is provided by DG REGIO and DG NEAR. In case of Moldova, it is a part of DG REGIO project focused on Smart Specialisation in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, implemented by JRC since 2019.
Moldova registered to Smart Specialisation Platform (S3P) at national level in 2016. Moldova is one of the more advanced countries in the Eastern Partnership region in terms of developing its S3 strategy. It intends to finalise it by the end of 2020. Since the beginning of 2020 S3 is included in the action plan of the government, which gives it a push in relevance. The Entrepreneurial Discovery Process (EDP) started in June 2019 when the first 4 EDP workshops on Energy, ICT, Agriculture and Food processing and Biomedicine and Biopharmaceuticals were held. The EDP is still ongoing, as it was delayed due to the COVID-19 situation. Online meetings are envisaged to conclude the process in time.
S3 governance: the Ministry leading the S3 process is the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research (MECC). The governance arrangements include:
- S3 team - involving MECC, the coordinators of the EDP groups, experts responsible for thematic areas, chamber of commerce, statistical office;
- Interministerial group - involving MECC, Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure (MEI), Ministry of Agriculture, Regional Development and Environment (MADRM), Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection (MSPMS), National Bureau of Statistics.
Smart Specialisation is included in the National Research and Innovation Programme of Moldova for the years 2020-2023. The programme foresees to approve strategic priorities of research and innovation activities for 2023-2027 according to smart specialisation niches identified. The implementation will be based on a mix of national, EU and international donor financing.