A failure to spark domestic interest in a new science park has led the science ministry to look further afield

Montenegro’s science ministry is pushing ahead with plans for a science and technology park, despite initial calls for domestic proposals to invest in the park flopping. The government now hopes to reach out to international partners to invest in the science park. The park would link academia with industry as part of the country’s recent strategy to renew its science base and make it relevant to development.

The Montenegrin government set up a dedicated science ministry in early 2011 and passed a law to unite its two science academies in March 2012. It now wants to set up excellence centres and the science park was part of plans to boost innovation and support start-ups.

But the initial call in March attracted no interest from Montenegro’s research or business community. Now the ministry is casting its net wider, with an international call for investors to develop the park.

Darko Petrusic, the science minister’s aide in charge of the project, tells Chemistry World that the lack of domestic interest was down to a short deadline and that several domestic teams already applied following the second call for proposals. ‘We are now also having discussions with several foreign companies, some of which have proposed public-private partnerships,’ he adds. ‘So far we have spoken to companies from neighbouring countries, the UK, the USA and Germany.’

Firms should move onto the park in three years time. It would incorporate technology, business and incubator centres - with an additional educational role. It would be based in the capital Podgorica, where there is the greatest R&D potential - thank to the University of Montenegro. But it would have branches in the south and north of the country, as part of a plant to boost regional development. If there is interest from the local communities and firms further regional centres focusing on agriculture and livestock and health and medical technologies could be created.

Petrusic says the experience of other countries in the Balkans that have set up similar parks will be invaluable. ‘There are enough positive examples in the region which we could look up to,’ he says.

Sergej Djuranovic, a Montenegrin researcher currently at John Hopkins University, in Baltimore, US, welcomes the idea. He tells Chemistry World that it would be beneficial if some of the funds aimed at boosting technology and industry links went to universities. ‘This can be in the form of scientific grants that can be used to address specific questions in both basic science and industry,’ he says. ‘Making such funds [available] would encourage young scientists to stay in the country and create resources that can be used to sponsor their graduate and postgraduate research.’

Mico Tatalovic