Science and the Economy go Hand in Hand

29. 11. 2001

Ljubljana, November 29 – Today the Slovenian Minister of Economics, Tea Petrin, the Minister of Education, Science and Sport, Dr. Lucija Cok and the representatives of Lek held a meeting with young researchers at the company’s headquarters. The purpose of the meeting was to deepen the cooperation between science and business, especially by applying the talent and knowledge of young researchers to economic matters.

This year has witnessed a new concept for financing young researchers from the business sector. These young researchers will also be employed in the economic sector, resulting in substantially more emphasis on investigating issues and problems that business finds interesting and important. This will also allow the young researchers to more quickly familiarize themselves with the research issues that concern business.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and the Ministry of Economics joined in financing this program. This spring, they posted a joint invitation for applications resulting in over 170 applicants. This created a major problem since the two ministries had funds adequate to finance only 30 new appointments. “The ministries will strive every year to increase the number of young researchers they support. By 2002, we plan to fund 50 more young researchers,” said the Minister of Education, Science and Sport, Dr. Lucija Cok, in her introduction.

Dr. Tea Petrin continued by emphasizing that the competitiveness of an economy is to a large degree dependant on its businesses and their ability to innovate. Crucial in this is the role of exchanging knowledge, which leads the way in developing new technologies and technological improvements. Therefore, one of the priorities of the Ministry of Economics is to stimulate the flow of knowledge between universities and research institutes, and the business community.

Governmental support of young researchers is important for all branches of the economy, particularly the pharmaceutical industry. The principal task of the pharmaceutical industry is to supply safe, effective and high quality drugs to patients. This can only be achieved by never ending investment in research and development.

Today, as in the past, Lek is offering, under its own trademarks, the most up to date drugs to meet the latest pharmacological and therapeutic needs of patients. Lek’s own know how contributes to developing and improving the quality of therapeutic treatments. Lek has also tried to ensure that Slovenian patients, just as patients elsewhere in the world, have access to the latest, up to date drugs.

Lek annually allocates 12 percent of its sales revenue to research and development. Lek’s strategic goal is to attain that level of development that will enable it in the future to join the ranks of the most innovative companies. Here we need to emphasize that while Lek realizes only a quarter of its sales in Slovenia, three quarters of its total research funds are earmarked for investment at home.

Lek also intends to give a lot of attention to research and development in the future. Lek is oriented towards developing patient friendly products with controlled ingredient release; we want to lower the number of drug doses, provide easier, more comfortable drug administration and improve organoleptic properties.

By the spring of 2002, the construction of Lek’s new research and development center in Ljubljana will be complete. The center will provide 9000 m2 of space, suitably outfitted to meet the needs of our professionals.

“The pharmaceutical industry needs government support and cooperation in research and development to provide a strong research environment, to develop key technologies and to provide professional training of researchers” said Prof. Dr. Uroš Urleb, Assistant to the President of the Board of Management in his presentation.

In this regard, we can look to the successful models provided by Finland and Israel. These models demonstrate that the appropriate ministries can support research by funneling funds through the pharmaceutical industry to institutes and universities. This method worked in these countries to guarantee successful results in the area of research.

We must recognize, however, that research and development is not an end in itself, but has to produce concrete and useful results that create value and have industrial application.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport will provide incentives for applied research, support the plan for young researchers -particularly the new program for young researchers in business – as well as encourage alliances between universities and businesses that contribute to industrial innovation. This university and business partnership will have to be strengthened in the opposite direction as well, most often in the form of practical training, especially through professional higher education programs that provide direct work experience.

This press release contains statements and conclusions based on projections of Lek’s future business operations. These estimates are derived from the best information currently available. In case these forecasts prove unreliable, the actual results could prove different from those projected.

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For additional information, please contact Katarina Klemenc, Head of Corporate Communication Department, Lek d.d. Telephone: + 386 1 580 22 43