After the first initiative ten years ago, we started to systematically build "Unity through Knowledge" Fund in the year 2007, with the support of the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports and the World Bank.
The vision we had was to develop an instrument which would in a quality, transparent and competitive manner enable support to the most promising national scientific groups, on their way to achieving high-quality scientific results and their application, as well as attracting quality international funding through networking with the top international scientific institutions and the private sector.
Through the Fund’s instruments we also encouraged private sector investments in the collaborative scientific projects in order to achieve the best possible commercial development and create innovation potential. Together with the project leaders, their scientific groups and partner institutions abroad we built up scientific infrastructure in Croatia, not only through the procurement of equipment and development of scientists, but also through giving support to the project institutions in implementing the projects, aiming that they would also be able to apply such model in larger and more complex projects funded from local and international sources.
The whole time UKF Fund has been actively working on upgrading the quality of its work in organizational and strategic terms, which would provide the most quality selection procedure and implementation of projects. It is you, the individuals and the scientific community, who played an important role here, with your advice and constructive criticism you have contributed to the high level of professionalism in the work of the Fund. Ultimately, this significantly contributed to the fact that despite its relatively limited financial contribution, UKF Fund has become an example of good practices and successful mechanisms of scientific funding in and outside Croatia.
A good illustration of the positive effects of the Fund are specific measurable performance indicators of UKF beneficiaries: as a result of the Fund's investments through the first World Bank Loan in the amount of 39 million HRK, another 67 million HRK were attracted by the project leaders and their collaborators within the Seventh Framework Program of the EU (FP7). Scientific productivity of UKF projects, which is visible through a large number of scientific publications (312 in the period from 2007 to 2012) and more importantly through the fact that scientists published articles in prestigious journals such as Science, Nature, Chemical Reviews, PNAS, says a lot about achieving UKF Fund’s goals, and that was one of the main reasons to continue with funding the UKF program through second World Bank Loan signed in the 2013.
UKF project leaders and their collaborators managed to attract significant funding from the private sector as well: 5,5 million HRK from local and 8.7 million HRK from international institutions. There are many other results, such as a significant number of new Doctors of Philosophy who have obtained their doctorates at top international scientific institutions - your project partners, and which were funded within the scope of UKF projects. Another example is the development of career of postdoctoral researchers who, after successfully completing the projects, established their own research groups within their institutions and made networks with the international scientific community.
Finally in year 2012, UKF Fund, in cooperation with the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports submitted a project proposal and was awarded FP7 project "NEWFELPRO" worth 7 million EUR, which will, in the next five years, enable significant international mobility of local and foreign scientists. It is already clear that in the years to come the measurable performance indicators of the Fund’s success will be increasing.
It is not easy to conclude the results of this cycle of implementing such a successful and productive program, however we want to inform you that the Fund will not continue with its activity in the present form.
Once again we would like to thank all UKF beneficiaries, and also the entire scientific community on partnership and constructive criticism, which were the basis for the realization of these good results.
We also thank our colleagues from the World Bank, who were an important factor in this synergistic process. On a broader level, we are confident that the system with several different, independent sources of funding at the state level is a good way to improve the quality of the processes of awarding and monitoring the projects. We hope that such a model will come to life again in the future.
We wish you much success in your future work and we believe that we will continue our research work on the basis that we have built together over the last years.
To the scientists who were awarded UKF projects in 2013 we wish much success at achieving the project goals, publishing quality articles in top publications and to participate in many new and competitive projects.