Two demographic factors send major warnings for research governance in Serbia. According to the projection of the Republic Statistics Office (RSO), the population of Serbia will decrease by about 2% every five years. In other words, in 2022 Serbia will have 6.3% fewer inhabitants than in 2010. Additionally, the average age of the population is 40.25, classifying Serbia among the countries with an older populations.

R&D personnel made up 0.591% of the labour force in 2008, which is almost half the EU average of 1.03%. The average age of the researchers is 44.3 years, which is above the average age of the population as a whole, pointing to the need to take action to support and nurture young scientific researchers.

MESTD has launched in 2011 a special programme for the development of human capital in Serbia (approximately €33m have been set aside for this task) with four main lines of investment in the period 2010-2015:

(1) A human resources programme which will engage individuals in Serbian scientific Diaspora in joint projects and other initiatives, to transfer their knowledge and skills for the benefit of Serbian society, as well as to motivate these scientists to return to Serbia. The programme includes the following activities:

  • Motivating Serbian diasporas for scientific research – this financial package will include relocation expenses, costs of lab equipment, and studentships/fellowships for any accompanying team members, and appropriate funding. The scientific institutions within Serbia will host the award recipients  and provide necessary infrastructural facilities in areas that are of high priority for the economic development of Serbia. The award recipients may be given temporary appointments and an opportunity to develop an institute in the area of their excellence;
  • Setting up of a Network of Serbian scientific diaspora: The MESTD will jointly launch this network to link the Serbian scientists around the world;
  • Short-term Visits of eminent Serbian scientists from diaspora to Serbia (including training, lectures. etc., in Serbian research institutions);
  • Attracting scientists from diaspora to launch start-up companies. Return of these scientists to set up start-up units can be encouraged by offering a set of special incentives, which could include tax breaks, reduction of levies and duties on their products, availability of business space at reduced rates, etc. Strategic areas to be supported through the project would include life sciences, information technology, new materials and structures. Specific areas of special priority will be announced by MESTD based on national priorities.

(2) The "Petnica" research centre is a unique institution with a 26 years long history and about 14,000 young trainees, whereas many of them are leaders of science research in Serbia today. In the next three years the work of providing additional capacities at "Petnica" should be completed with the opening of new accommodation and modern laboratories. Recently (November 21st, 2010) a protocol was signed for cooperation in the implementation of a project for the enlargement and reconstruction of Petnica worth €7.6 million;

(3) The “Mathematical” high school campus in Belgrade is a specialist secondary school which enrols, using special selection criteria, the most talented young mathematicians and others interested in natural sciences from Serbia. Due to the limited accommodation in dormitories in Belgrade, many schoolchildren in Serbia cannot access this institution. That is why the MESTD plan calls for building of a campus for accommodation during the school year but also for organising preparations for international scientific competitions and many other activities;

(4) The new science and innovation centre in Belgrade (for popularising science among young people and the public at large) is one of the core projects within the MESTD initiative to build a new national scientific infrastructure. The great popularity of the Festival of Science reveals that there is interest in such events. Therefore, the construction of new, modern, interactive centre has been planned, where children and their parents, will gain knowledge about topical issues in science. Recently (September 15, 2010), an international call for the design of such a centre was launched. Estimated cost for this project is 20 million EUR.