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Science is a key strategic factor of development in modern societies, and every country in the developed world reaches its state of advanced development by supporting scientific research. The social significance and economic impact of investing in scientific inquiry is evident in a country’s international competitiveness and in the level of the living standards and cultural enrichment of its citizens.

Every country in the modern world contributes to global science in accordance with its available resources, which are fundamentally determined by the decisions of politicians and state bodies. First and foremost, scientific research is a matter of public interest. It is traditionally undertaken with state support in two basic institutionalized forms: university and non-university research. Non-university research is a standard form of research which has been made necessary by the development of modern societies. The SAS is the authoritative public institution undertaking academic non-university research in Slovakia.1

Public support for scientific investigations which are in the interests of the development of all of society is a core principle stemming from the universal nature of science itself. Of course, this does not rule out support from private sources, without which scientific development would be impossible in the present day. The involvement of market mechanisms and private investment can bring significant impulses to the development of science. However, this does not mean that science only serves private interests. Science is essentially a public good; therefore, investment in science – be it from the public or private sector – will ultimately benefit society.

1 Non-university public research institutions exist all over the developed world and are not some “post-communist relic” peculiar to Central and Eastern Europe. Such institutions have the same social “licence” to undertake academic research as public universities. The core specific character of academic research at a non-university institution is in it meeting the long-term (strategic) knowledge needs of society (core research), which are not primarily tied to educational goals as would be the case with research undertaken at universities. The second function of non-university research is the fulfilment of selected current needs of social and economic development (applied research), which, however, are to a large degree met by sectoral and company research (development and innovation).