EUROPEAN STRUCTURAL FUNDS ASSISTANCE FOR YOUNG RESEARCHERS IN LATVIA
Latvia is a small country and small open economy and its main and the most competitive recourses are highly educated society and well developed science based on the research, innovation and modern technologies. To create a well functioning innovation system as a part of knowledge-based economy several conditions has to be met to insure that all parts of national innovation system do effectively work together.
Latvia is considered to be a country in transition between efﬁciency driven and innovation driven economy after Global Competitiveness report 2009-2010. This means that the development of the country soon would not be possible by improving productivity adopting existing technologies or making incremental improvements in other areas. Bigger and bigger role of country’s competitiveness will be in its ability to innovate. This means sufﬁcient investment in research and development, the presence of high-quality research institutions, extensive collaboration in research between universities and research institutes as well as technology transfer to the industry, and the protection of intellectual property. As one of the main obstacles that prohibit the scientiﬁc activities development in Latvia after restricted amount of funding is the lack of young scientists. The most signiﬁcant reasons of ageing of scientiﬁc personnel are the insufﬁcient number of doctoral students, brain drain of young scientists, the low percentage of research and development personnel (just 0.54% of the labour force in 2008 (Eurostat)).
The aim of this article is to analyse if the problems that accrue in higher education and science because of lack of young human recourse inﬂow can be solved by interaction of state using the European Union (EU) structural funds assistance.
During the programming period 2004-2006 the ﬁve main universities in Latvia implemented projects under the activity ‘Improvement of quality and implementation of doctoral studies and post-doctoral research’. The aim of these projects was to improve the quality and implementation of doctoral level studies and post-doctoral research in natural science and technology ﬁelds as well as to increase the number of new enrolees in the doctoral studies and provide research grants to the best doctoral students and new researchers. The research shows that the number of matriculated doctoral students in the prior study areas in the universities having implemented such projects has grown for 65.73% over the period of analysed seven years (2003-2009). The study concludes that EU structural funds assistance increases the motivation to start studies at doctoral level and encourage the students to choose carry out research in natural science and technology ﬁelds. In order to attract the young scientists to the research institutes the young scientists have to be involved in the research projects and the mentoring approach could be used to gain good results in the alternation of researchers’ generations by use of EU structural funds assistance. The research is mainly based on such economic research methods as grouping, chain and basis increase rate calculations. Comparative, analytical and historical methods have been manly used in the paper, taking into consideration the large amount of scientiﬁc literature.