Asia-Pacific National Innovation Systems
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Regional seminar on
Technology Facilitation for Sustainable Development Goals
in the Asia-Pacific

17 December 2015
New Delhi, India

Organized by
Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology (APCTT)
of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)
New Delhi, India

In cooperation with
Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR)
Ministry of Science and Technology,
Government of India, New Delhi, India

Background
In September 2015, the 193 Member States of the United Nations unanimously adopted a new global agenda to end poverty by 2030 and pursue a sustainable future. That historic agenda was composed of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change, among others, over the following 15 years. In that context, science, technology and innovation (STI) had been recognized as important means to achieve the sustainable development goals. Given the potential of STI as a tool to drive the achievement of the SDGs, it was essential to develop interventions which enhanced policies, institutions and processes that increase national capabilities, not only to develop, access and adapt technological innovations, but also to allow technology leapfrogging in new and emerging technologies. The mandate to achieve SDGs through technology facilitation mechanism highlighted the critical importance of the Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology (APCTT), United Nations ESCAP’s specialized institution focusing on innovation and technology-driven sustainable development to meet emerging regional challenges. During its nearly four decades of existence, APCTT-ESCAP had been assisting Member States’ in strengthening their capacity to develop and manage national innovation systems (NIS); develop, transfer and adopt technologies; and improve the terms of transfer of technologies relevant to the region.

In the post-2015 development agenda, APCTT-ESCAP would play a catalytic role in strengthening STI and technology transfer capacity of Member States to address sustainable development challenges through promoting cross-country technology facilitation in the region. As an active and supportive member of APCTT-ESCAP, India had been hosting APCTT-ESCAP since its inception and playing a pivotal role in the Asia-Pacific as a source and facilitator of technology and innovation for regional integration.

The seminar was organized by APCTT-ESCAP in cooperation with the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India, on 17 December in conjunction with the 11th Meeting of the Technical Committee on 17-18 December 2015 and the 11th Session of the Governing Council on 18 December 2015. That facilitated high-level dialogue and discussions between senior representatives of Member States and key STI policy makers from the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India, and key Indian technology stakeholders. The deliberations at the seminar assessed and identified relevant regional institutions, resources and capacities for jointly organizing technology facilitation programmes.

Objectives

  • To share with regional stakeholders, the vision and mission of APCTT-ESCAP on addressing critical issues for technology facilitation in the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.
  • To brainstorm ideas on developing national/regional STI and technology transfer strategies for technology facilitation in the context of post-2015 agenda.
  • To explore possibilities of cooperation, partnerships and sharing of resources for supporting technology facilitation programmes/activities of APCTT-ESCAP.
  • To propose a modality for regional cooperation in technology facilitation for countries in the Asia-Pacific region based on the outcome of discussions.

Outputs

In his welcome address, Mr. Nagesh Kumar, Head, UNESCAP-SSWA Office and OIC, APCTT-ESCAP, highlighted APCTT-ESCAP’s vision and mission on technology facilitation for sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific. He emphasised the key role played by APCTT-ESCAP as an STI gateway for countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and provided information on the future programmes/activities of APCTT-ESCAP towards achieving sustainable development through technology facilitation. Mr. Kumar pointed out the need for assessing/identifying relevant regional institutions, resources and capacities for jointly organizing technology facilitation programmes in cooperation with APCTT-ESCAP. He invited feedback on possible technology facilitation strategies and approaches to address critical sustainable development challenges through normative and analytical studies as well as capacity building at both national and regional levels.

Mr. P.K. Dutta, Scientist F, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Government of India, gave opening remarks, and Mr. Upendra Tripathy, Secretary, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India, delivered the keynote address.

Mr. Tripathi drew the attention of the participants to the drastically decreasing cost of solar electricity, which was essential to achieve grid parity and would drive the prices in the solar market. RE-Invest 2015, the first edition of the Global Renewable Energy Investors’ Meet & Expo, had attracted 40 countries and some US$200 billion commitments were made by companies. Mr. Tripathi stressed on the need for low cost capital requirement in the renewable energy sector, including a variety of equity funds. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) – the first international and inter-governmental organization headquartered in India – would work to identify common areas of technology transfer in the 121 member countries.

In the first session of the seminar there were open discussions on “Strengthening of National Innovation Systems (NIS) for achieving SDGs”. Mr. Prabhat Ranjan, Executive Director, Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, chaired the first session. He narrated TIFAC’s role in innovation and IPR. In his presentation, he discussed about technology foresight, ways to nurture innovations, industry support and capacity building. He explained that transversal technologies, infrastructure and fundamental research were the essential prerequisites to face future STI challenges, which would involve as the principal actors the government, industry, academia and R&D institutions. According to Mr. Ranjan, the key activities were knowledge creation, ecosystem design for innovation and development, and technology deployment. He mentioned that TIFAC had a roadmap for advancements in security technology, solar photovoltaic and electric mobility.

This was followed by presentations by participants from various countries. The panellist from Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr. M. Molanejad, Acting President for International Cooperation, Iranian Research Organization for Science and Technology (IROST), Ministry of Science, Research & Technology (MSRT), said that meeting sustainable development goals will require action on a number of decisions including harvesting and maximizing the potential of technological innovation. Examples of such technologies included carbon capture and storage systems, more efficient irrigation methods, essential medicines, household water purification devices and manufacturing processes that minimizing waste and pollution. Mr. Molanejad then described IROST’s efforts at renewable energy technology development. He pointed out that the production of fuels using microalgae had indicated a solution that revolutionized biofuel production as an essential part in reaching targets to replace petroleum-based transportation fuels with a viable alternative and in reducing long-term carbon dioxide emissions. The sea water and coastal land could be used for microalgae-based biofuel production, as that would not endanger agricultural lands and fresh water resources. He offered to transfer microalgae-based biofuel production technology to countries with coastlines.

Mr. Sakeash Waikere from the Government of Fiji stated that his country required financing, capacity development, public awareness, energy security study, and training of personnel.

Mr. Raveendran Nair, Senior Principal Assistant Secretary, International Division, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), Malaysia, gave a vivid picture of functioning of technology and innovation systems in Malaysia. He added that the ecosystem for innovative work in Malaysia had improved in recent times and covered 40 areas. Malaysia had established specialized agencies for innovation promotion and University-Industry collaborations have improved in the past two years.

The panellist from the Republic of Korea, Mr. Woo-sung Lee, Centre for Innovation Policy, Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI), emphasized that technology facilitation mechanism under SDGs was weak. But there was an opportunity to catch up with the goals through innovations. The idea should be to shift the focus from industry-driven economy to innovation-driven economy, and on to technology areas such as nanotechnology and biotechnology. Technology facilitation should also take into account social and environmental aspects, social innovation, creative economy and technology commercialization. He mentioned about the start-up creation that established Global Climate Fund (GCF) and remarked that a governance mechanism for technology facilitation was required.

The panellist from Thailand – Ms. Panida Thepkhun, Research Officer, Energy Technology Department, Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (TISTR) – gave a brief presentation on “STI Master Plan and Research for Sustainable Development” in Thailand which provided mechanisms to enrich Thailand’s innovation system at all levels – from national to regional to local. The Master Plan (2012-2021) emphasised sustainable economy, quality society, green innovation, etc. The responsibilities of the Sustainable Development Group of TISTR involved integrated R&D projects, such as on biofuel, conducted following the national policy on sustainable development, she said.
The presentations were followed by open panel discussions.

In the Second Session on "Regional Cooperation in Technology Transfer for SDGs", Mr. Jonathan Wong, Regional Advisor on Science, Technology and Innovation, United Nations ESCAP, representing the ESCAP headquarters, shared his perspectives on the role of STI in facilitating inclusive and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region. He pointed out the cross-country challenges that exist in open innovation and for technology collaboration. He mentioned about the three components for sustainable development: society, economy and environment. He questioned as to whether there was a need to move from technology transfer to technology collaboration, and wondered whether open innovation could lead to more effective technology transfer. Mr. Wong drew the participants’ attention to the increased government support for social enterprises through institutions, such as in the Republic of Korea and Thailand, and policies, such as in India, Malaysia, the Philippines and Viet Nam. He said that considerable technology expertise existed in the region. He also discussed what the Asia-Pacific region could learn from such government policies to catalyse social enterprise, and what should the region ask of technology facilitation mechanisms.

The representative from Bangladesh, Mr. Md. Y.A. Pramanik, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), then gave a brief presentation on Bangladesh’s goals in terms of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and its achievements in recent times. Bangladesh was committed to incorporating the SDGs into the national planning processes, policies and strategies. He mentioned that to achieve the SDGs Bangladesh needed investments, sustainable technology transfer, cooperation of specialist and skilled work force, as well as the cooperation on its global trade and business.

The panellist from India, Mr. D.C. Joshi, Chief of Business Development, National Resrach Development Corporation (NRDC), made a presentation on NRDC’s operational model. He mentioned that the sources of technology for NRDC are R&D labs, universities, individual inventors and NGOs. Marketing, regulatory approvals, licensing, IPR protection, angel funding, etc. were the value-added services provided by NRDC. He emphasized on strengthening SDG 17 through the implementation and revitalization of the global partnership for sustainable development by focusing on technology partnerships. NRDC’s approach to achieve the targets would be through identifying thrust areas (transport, power, textiles, chemicals, metallurgy, etc.) for implementation of environmentally sound technologies. NRDC would engage in developing a Global Technology Bank for environmentally sound technologies in the identified thrust areas by 2017 with the help of ICT.

Mr. Edgar Garcia, Director, Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI-DOST), the panellist from Philippines, elaborated on the technology transfer law in the Philippines. He said that TAPI-DOST was mandated for technology transfer and intellectual property rights (IPR) protection. According to him, in the Philippines, technology could be assessed and adapted according to social context of development. TAPI-DOST assisted in technology commercialization and technology transfer, besides providing financial assistance to inventors and innovators and information on IPR policy protocols for R&D institutes to guide how to transfer their technologies. Mr. Garcia stated that the Invention Act of the Philippines had laws that ensured provision of technology and information management. The National Operational Assessment of Hazards (NAOH) in Philippines detects calamities beforehand. The Technology Transfer Act of Philippines included provisions on adoption of social change and climate change mitigation, besides technology transfer. He was of the opinion that technology transfer should focus on climate change and disaster management technologies.
The panellist from Sri Lanka – Mr. T.A.G. Gunasekara, Chairman, National Engineering Research and Development Centre (NERDC) – explained the different projects and research work that were going on in various sectors across Sri Lanka. According to him effort had been made by the Government of Sri Lanka for technology transfer at grassroots level, such as the transfer of herbal medicine technology to the private sector enterprises. The country also supported regional technology transfer.

Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Mr. P.K. Dutta mentioned that technology facilitation is an important factor for achieving SDGs in the Asia-Pacific. The objectivities and subjectivities of SDGs were relevant in addressing diverse problems. Hence, sustainability in terms of addressing these issues is relevant from the perspective of renewable energy, innovative mechanisms for harnessing resources etc.
  • Mr. Upendra Tripathy opined that India needed to work in partnership with APCTT-ESCAP member countries towards achieving SDGs. He also requested APCTT-ESCAP to contribute to the International Solar Alliance (ISA) launched during COP 21 climate change conference held in Paris and praised the efforts of APCTT-ESCAP to transfer environmentally sustainable technologies for the benefit of the region. He also discussed on new schemes of the Government of India through which it was expecting to improve new and renewable energy sector. Mr. Tripathi signalled his Ministry’s readiness to sign MoU with APCTT-ESCAP for technology transfer capacity building activities in the solar energy sector. He claimed that India had about 200 applications of solar energy technologies.
  • Mr. Nagesh pointed out that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development had been taken seriously worldwide as a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity, and reiterated the commitment of APCTT-ESCAP to work with national agencies in the region towards achieving the 17 SDGs.

See Annex I for the programme.

Participants

The seminar was attended and actively contributed to through discussions by 65 participants from the government, academic institutions, research institutions, NGOs, INGOs, United Nations and representatives from 10 member countries of APCTT-ESCAP.
For a list of participants, see Annex II.