Iceland needs sharper focus on research and education for successful innovation-led recovery


An international panel of experts, mandated by the Icelandic Government, presented the report “Education, Research and Innovation Policy” on 25 May 2009, with a view to help boost the Icelandic economy.

Panel members were:

  • Christoffer Taxell, Chancellor of  Abo Akademi and former Minister in Finland: Chair
  • Markkuu Linna, Former Permanent Secretary, Finnish Ministry of Education, Finland 
  • Richard Yelland, Head of the Education Management and Infrastructure Division of the OECD Education DirectorateIain Gillespie, Head of Science and Technology Policy Division, OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry.
  • Arnold Verbeek, senior expert STI policy and Manager of the Competitiveness and Innovation Division at IDEA Consult, Brussels, Belgium: Rapporteur

The panel report stresses the need for:

  • Continued investment in education. Education and training should be extended beyond civil service management, and target quality improvement and vocational training.
  • Streamlining education and research. 2 universities should be created to replace 7 existing ones, with greater interaction between departments, and stronger linkages with public research institutes and the private sector.   Competitive research funding needs to be overhauled, with priority to quality assurance, accountability and delivery.
  • Clearer support for innovation. Geothermal science, health and life sciences, as well as creative industries/ICT have particular growth potential in Iceland. Indirect support mechanisms – such as tax incentives and better structured capital funds - would improve R&D performance.  Clear focus is required on sustaining and building capacity and effective business partnerships.
  • Reform and strengthen governance and structure and systems. The Science and Technology Policy Council needs an independent and strong voice, its authority clearly defined. It should be chaired by the Prime Minister, and supported by a much strengthened Rannis (Icelandic Research Council) with balanced representation from industry, government and academia, notably the rectors of the two consolidated universities recommended.
  • Unite support for short-term change and implement it quickly. An inter-ministerial task group could be set up to implement these recommendations, reporting to the Science and Technology Policy Council to enable swift implantation of these changes, which should  be evaluated after 18 months.

Full report (pdf, 388 ko)


For further information, please contact Richard Yelland and Iain Gillespie.



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