Funding for Science Will Increase, Education and Science Minister Says

Funding for Science Will Increase, Education and Science Minister Says

Education and Science Minister Daniel Vulchev told journalists on Monday that an increase of the funding for science has been requested, BTA reports.

Science funding currently stands at 0.4 per cent of GDP, and even if the percentage is preserved next year, there will be an increase of the amount of funding by 26 million - 27 million leva due to the increase of GDP, Vulchev said, presenting information on the projects which apply for the competitions of the Scientific Research Fund.

At the meeting in Bansko, many voices were heard in support of increasing science funding as a percentage of GDP, Vulchev said. "I believe there will be consensus on that, and the Scientific Research Fund will be increased in nominal terms," he said.

This year the money for the Fund is increased fourfold from previous years and totals 60 million leva. A total of 1,050 projects apply for funding, Scientific Research Fund CEO Anastas Gerdjikov told the news conference.

Among a total of 16 competitions there are new ones, most importantly, Ideas, Integrated Scientific Centres at Universities, Building Top Achievement Centres, and Grants for the Return of Bulgarian Scientists Working Abroad. There is much interest in the Young Scientists competition, in which 85 projects are applying for funding.

The largest number of projects, 337, have been submitted for the Thematic Competition (Encouragement of Scientific Research in Priority Areas). The largest number of projects have been submitted by higher schools, followed by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Biotechnologies, food and health is the priority area attracting the largest number of candidates: 27 per cent. The applicant projects will be evaluated in the autumn.

It was said at the news conference that all universities and institutes with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, including large libraries, will have access to an electronic textual database. "For 15 or 20 years we have not had access to scientific magazines because the funding was scarce, and they are expensive. Now, everybody will gain access to all magazines," Gerdjikov said.

The National Strategy for the Development of Scientific Research in Bulgaria and the Scientific Degrees and Academic Ranks Bill will be submitted to Parliament before the beginning of the session, Vulchev said.

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