President Klaus Iohannis said on Tuesday that there are still economic and social gaps separating Romania from Western Europe, underscoring that the modernisation of Romania over the next decades depends decisively on investment in innovation."Now, when we mark 100 years as a unitary national state, Romania faces the challenge of reducing the economic and social gaps still separating it from Western Europe. The modernisation of Romania over the next decades depends decisively on investment in innovation that will lead to the development of a knowledge-based economy able to smartly and sustainably exploit the technological challenges of the future," Iohannis told the "We are inventing the future! Our bet on science!" conference at the Royal Palace.
He underscored that particular attention should be paid to the stimulation of major projects in strategic areas and high added value, giving as an example the development of the Magurele Science Park, which he says marks a very important step forward toward increasing connectivity between academia and the private sector.
"Magurele is in many ways one of the main centres of Romanian research and has long been. With five national research and development institutes, a faculty and two engineering companies, the city is already well-known in the field of physics. The development potential of the area remains, however, very high," said Iohannis.
He congratulated the local and county administrations on the development of this project, showing that it will bring a number of benefits to both the local community and the whole country.
"First of all, it can stop and even reverse research talent drain, generated also by the lack of adequate infrastructure for carrying out advanced research projects. Second, the Magurele Science Park will allow the development of an attractive environment for the type of interdisciplinary research approach that is increasingly contributing to the transfer of good practices and innovations between different branches of science," he said.
Iohannis pointed out that research is indispensable to any strategy for sustainable economic growth.
"Romania has over the past 15 years narrowed the gap separating it from Western Europe. However, in order to be able to stand out from the group of middle-income economies, we need to invest in the technologies of the future. Science parks are a friendly ecosystem for such development as it facilitates co-operation between the private sector, research centres and all other interested partners," added Iohannis.
He showed that the Magurele Science Park also represents an opportunity to diversify development poles in the vicinity of Bucharest.
He emphasised the need for infrastructure projects.
"By ensuring quick access to the Magurele Science Park, the popularity of the area with investors, researchers and also employees, can be increased. Unfortunately, the infamous tested road traffic jams and the lack of a suburban railway system are some elements that reduce the attractiveness of the Bucharest-Ilfov metropolitan area, and action is needed here," Iohannis said.
He mentioned that, unfortunately, many feasibility studies have not been followed up by the allocation of funds for the actual materialisation of projects, but he said he is expecting the Magurele Science Park to be a happy exception.
"Increasing the absorption of European funds, as well as private investment, are a necessity for Romania if it is to develop its research infrastructure," Iohannis pointed out.