The transport research framework in Lithuania is determined by the National Higher Education and Research Policy (Research and Higher Education Strategy) and by the transport system planning documents.
The most recent research policy goals are mainly set by the Lithuanian Innovation Development Programme 2014-2020. The programme has four objectives:
- To develop an innovative society
- To enhance innovation potential of business
- To promote the cooperation creation of value networking, development and internationalisation
- To increase efficiency of innovation policy-making and implementation and promote innovation in the public sector
The programme is linked to Smart specialisation as measures covered by the action plan of the programme will promote the specific priorities of the smart specialisation area: stimulating the competitiveness of the economy of Lithuania.
Another relevant document is Lithuania’s Progress Strategy “Lithuania 2030”. The implementation strategy for EU Structural Funds also supports public and company research and development.
Transport research policy is typically developed on the basis of the priorities established according to national transport system planning. The main documents in transport system planning are the Long-Term Development Strategy of the Lithuanian Transport System (up to 2025), which provides a foundation for sector-based strategies.
At the highest level, research and innovation policy in Lithuania is set by the Parliament and the Government. The governance structure for research and innovation is based on two Ministries:
- The Ministry of Economy and Innovation is responsible for innovation policy;
- The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for higher education and research and development policy.
National research policy is developed and implemented by the Department of Science and Technology under the Ministry of Education and Science and in cooperation with the Research Council of Lithuania. The Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology coordinates the participation of Lithuanian institutions and companies in international research programmes and projects. The Ministry of Finance also plays a major role in allocating funding for national research programmes.
The transport research and policy priorities are defined by the Ministry of Transport and Communication in the national transport system policy.
There are three main types of research funding available:
- Internal research programmes at the universities;
- National research grants funded through the framework of the National Research Programmes. These grants are mostly awarded to programmes in priority research areas;
- Applied research service contracts.
The main source of funding of the general research programmes is the national/ministry budget, including the Ministry of Education and Science and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For transport research (which consists mostly of consulting or service contracts), the Ministry of Transport and Communication launches several service calls per year.
Other opportunities for funding transport research are through:
- Programmes launched by the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology;
- Calls launched by the Ministry of Finance;
- Calls launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
- EU Structural Funds;
- The European Social Fund Agency (ensures all funds given by the European Union and the Republic of Lithuania are appropriately used);
- The Innovation Agency Lithuania (established by the Ministry of Economy for the purpose of administering EU support and co-financing funds).
Current funding sources or programmes for transport research in Lithuania include:
- European Union Funds’ Investments 2021-2027 and draft revised Partnership Agreement that will launch a new EU investment period in Lithuania.The programme will support modernisation and electrification of the Trans-European network railway infrastructure, existing multimodal terminal connections and further development of the Trans-European road network, improving regional connectivity and traffic safety. Funds will be also devoted to the promotion of sustainable urban transport.
- National Programme on the Development of Transport and Communication (2014-2022) – aids in the sustainable development of the transport and communications system in Lithuania, the efficient management of public resources and utilisation of the European Union (EU) Structural Funds’ assistance, and the increase in the competitiveness of the sector.
- Interreg V-A - Latvia-Lithuania - addresses some of the important cross-border challenges which are linked to the implementation of Europe 2020 in the border regions of Southern Latvia and Northern Lithuania.
Historic programmes also include:
- Operational Programme for EU Structural Funds Investments for 2014-2020 - reflects the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy with a clear emphasis on boosting research and innovation, SME competitiveness and the shift to a low-carbon economy.
- Structural Funds Investments Lithuania (2014-2020)- aims to support economic development, to tackle social exclusion, unemployment and energy security. PA6 includes development of sustainable transport and main networks infrastructure.