Innovation Policy in EU and Georgia: Regional Policy
Oleg Shatberashvili – Chairman, Association European Studies for Innovative Development of Georgia
The countries, which successfully developed in the 20th century, were those which had based public administration on scientific expertise and directed economic processes on the way of innovation. The innovation-directed development means the innovation policy elaboration and implementation at all levels of management/administration, both national and regional. This approach (tested by international practice, primarily European) should be widely shared in Georgia as well, and should not be a subject of controversy. Georgia’s aspirations to European integration, reflected in the preparation and initialing of the association agreement, strengthen this position. At the same time, there must be a clear-cut perception of the innovation policy essence and its mechanisms. In this respect, more has been done in Georgia at the central government level than at the regional one. The article considers the essence and mechanisms of the innovation policy.
The regional innovation policy is a necessary component and condition of the socio-economic development of regions. In Georgia, in spite of the adoption by the government of a regional innovation strategy in 2010, no progress towards development and implementation of an appropriate policy has been observed. The reason of it is also the circumstance that said strategy was approved upon categorical request of donors. This is another evidence of the known and repeatedly confirmed fact: operative is only a strategy, which (1) has been ordered by the Georgian society and (2) the executors of which are also Georgian authors (who use international experience, including the involvement of foreign experts). Georgia’s problems will be solved only subject to the involvement of the Georgian society and Georgian specialists. Similarly, the problems of development in regions, including the innovation policy issues, will not be handled without the involvement of local community and local government. There are many examples (first of all in the EU) showing that the regional government, under conditions of the involvement of interested institutions and society, manages to ensure competitiveness at a national and international level. The mobilization of local intellectual resources (universities, private business, and other interested actors) enables to select and develop from the internationally recognized instruments the ones that are most suitable and realizable under specific local conditions. The prerequisites for innovative development of regions and some practical instruments have already been created in Georgia in 2013-2014: the spending on R&D has increased, an Innovation and Technology Agency has been set up, the work on the innovation strategy is under way, preferential credits in the food sector are under operation, etc. Regions should spare no effort in order to make the best use of these opportunities.