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Lithuanian research and development system

Heritage characteristics. In 1990, as a result of re-gained independence, Lithuania inherited research and development (R&D) system having all features typical of the Soviet times. Fundamental and applied research was concentrated in the research institutes; therefore, it was separated from higher education activities conducted by university-type higher education establishments. Part of those institutes had a very narrow specialization and was oriented rather towards the needs of the Soviet Union, than to the Lithuanian ones. A considerable part of R&D potential was subordinate to the military complex. As in other Central and Eastern European countries under the socialist regime, the governmental sector prevailed in Lithuania and the priority was given to the hard sciences – mathematics, physics and chemistry.

The research institutes, including the institutes of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, had close ties with the economy and its entities. Some of the higher education establishments such as Vilnius University and Kaunas Polytechnic Institute had also close ties with the economy. However, in most cases, those economic entities were outside Lithuanian boarders. This complicated greatly the situation of research institutions after 1990.

Heavy complications were inspired by the inherited R&D potential considerably exceeding the capacities of the Lithuanian budget as well as the Lithuanian demands. The largest number of R&D staff in Lithuania was reached in the middle of the 80‘s of the last century (there were 38 200 employees in 1985). Reduction of R&D staff started before the re-gaining of the independence: 34 300 employees worked in research and research supporting area in 1990, and 29 000 employees in 1991. The number of specialists carrying out research, designing, engineering and technological activities (except for the supporting staff) was 14 540 in 1991. In addition, 3 756 members of the pedagogical staff at higher education establishments carried out research activities side by side with their pedagogical work. Considering that this pedagogical staff allotted about one-third of the working time to the research activities, in 1991 a number of researchers per thousand workers expressed in the full-time equivalent was 8.3. In comparison with other countries, this parameter was high (the average of EU countries in 1995 was 5.0), however, as it has already been mentioned, large part of R&D potential was working not for the needs of Lithuania.

Negative dimensions of the heritage were counterbalanced by rather high level of the Lithuanian research potential according to the Soviet standards of that time. For instance, even 19 research institutes (of 41 institute operating in 1985) had the status of research coordinating centres of the USSR.