The best investment is an investment in smart, educated, and talented people with a vision for a better future. Science Fund through its programs supports best projects, ideas and teams that are contributing to the development of technologies and solutions for improving our lives
Early in her career, after receiving PhD in electrical engineering and computing, Milica Djurić Jovičić managed Innovation Center of a technical faculty, which has grown into a successful company that connects research and industry, and contributes to society through innovations, applied science and new technological solutions.
Since 2019, she has been leading the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia, a government institution dedicated to supporting research and development based on scientific excellence.
Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia is a young institution that is developing very fast. Since establishment of SFRS, what do you consider as your main achievements?
Since establishment in March 2019, Science Fund has opened five programs for financing scientific projects. It is our great pleasure that our ambition and great effort were recognized by the research community in Serbia, as well as international institutions. The Science Fund had support from many of our colleagues abroad, who shared their experience which helped us build fully functional institutional-based on the best practices in record time.
Our funding programs are highly selective, and only the top 10-20% of the submitted proposals receive funding. In order to provide objective, high-quality assessment for each proposal, we engage only international experts, with a successful professional career in research. Our pool of experts includes more than 1300 international peer reviewers from over 60 countries. The selected projects are those which are ranked highest according to scientific excellence, impact, and implementation potential. As a result, the Science Fund will be also funded by the World Bank and EU.
Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia so far has approved 177 scientific projects for funding which include more than 800 researchers from 75 scientific and research organizations. With
new programs which are being executed, we expect to have up to 2.000 researchers included in our programs in the next year.
How do you plan to strengthen the cooperation between scientists from Serbia, and Serbian scientists from the diaspora?
Serbia is very proud of our distinguished scientists around the world who represent us in the best possible way. Today we live in a globalized and interdependent world, and we can be well connected through existing technology. Many problems can be approached in a transnational way, and we should harvest vast international knowledge of our scientific diaspora and embed it in Serbia to accelerate further development. On the other hand, we have many successful research groups and scientists here in Serbia. Connecting our researchers will introduce additional international visibility and possibilities for partnerships. By supporting collaboration among them, we also connect research institutions, and promote Serbia as a partner for cooperation in science, technology, and innovation.
In order to support and inspire connections and collaboration among Serbian scientists around the world, the Science Fund has started the LinkedIn group “Science without Borders”. This group serves as an open professional network for collaboration between Serbian scientists in Serbia and abroad, and aims to enable the exchange of knowledge, ideas, experience, and opportunities for collaboration. Such connections are important for the development of science but also economy, entrepreneurship and society in Serbia.
In parallel, we are currently implementing the first mobility collaboration program – Serbian Science and Diaspora Collaboration Program. Through 92 mobility projects, we connect researchers who live and work in Serbia with our researchers in 22 countries. In the forthcoming years, Science Fund will enable further cooperation with Serbian scientific diaspora by introducing collaboration programs for knowledge exchange and joint research.
What is the plan of the Science Fund in 2021?
We plan to open a new program for science and industry collaboration, and special programs with research topics of strategic importance as identified by the government, science, and industry. The new programs in 2021 will strive to help some of the identified needs and challenges of modern Serbian society. Our researchers can directly contribute to the development of Serbia in many areas.