Space Iceland has submitted to Parliament a review of the 2021 budget. We would like to thank you for the help we got before writing the review. Here you can access the document, unfortunately it is only available in Icelandic: https://www.althingi.is/altext/erindi/151/151-46.pdf
Here are Space Iceland’s core views of the budget:
- Space Iceland celebrates increased funding to innovation, but more is needed if innovation and research are to be a driving force of the economic resilience.
- The COVID-19 stimulus does in no way represent the size of COVID’s impact on Iceland’s economy. Simply put more needs to be done.
- Funding of innovation and basic research, although increased, does not meet the need even at the best of times. Should innovation and science become the driving force for economic growth the government claims it should be funding is not even close to what is needed. It does not even meet basic goals in times of normalcy.
- Without basic research, the value creation of innovation is simply limited. Basic research has been underfunded for decades, and despite increased funding for innovation, there is still a long way to go to meet demand. There is a significant need to increase funding and make a clear distinction between innovation and basic research support systems.
- Despite 2106 Parliamentary resolution on Iceland’s membership of the European Space Agency (ESA), no funding has been allocated for the work. Membership will strengthen basic research in Iceland and development of space related activity. The authorities don’t seem intend to seize the opportunity of membership, despite the fact that Space Iceland has multiplied space-related projects in the country in a short time and Iceland’s EGNOS interests correlating with ESA membership.
- Space Iceland sees a reason to address the concerns of municipalities and expresses great concern about the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on the financial situation of the municipalities.
- It is Iceland’s weakness that we are better at educating people for opportunities than giving people opportunities. It is Space Iceland’s opinion that the authorities lack of ambition, when it comes to financing science and innovation infrastructure, plays a big role. Planning, financing and implementation has in the past been lacking and the budget does not admit or address this issue.
- There are various reasons for the emigration of people, but it is safe to say that a monotonous economy and a grossly ill-considered decision to close down the social housing system two decades ago caused a damaging ripple that disproportionately affected younger generations the same generation still dealing with the aftermath of the 2008 economic downturn. The 2021 budget signals that the government has still to come to term with mistakes of the past and unfortunately for young people there is a lack of counteraction for those starting their careers during the COVI-19 recession. We fear young innovative people will seek abroad for opportunities despite the global downturn. Similar to what happened in 2014-2015 when young and highly educated people left Iceland en mass despite strong economic growth in Iceland and lagging growth in Europe.
- Support for employment opportunities and the initiative of young people is severely lacking. Systematic access to capital is not in place, competition for grants is fierce and funds are significantly underfunded.