Asia-Pacific National Innovation Systems
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Capacity Building

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South-South Cooperation in STI Capacity Building

18 November 2013
ESCAP, Bangkok, Thailand

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

Brief Report
Background
During implementation of activities under the APCTT-ESCAP’s ongoing programme in the area of strengthening National Innovation Systems (NIS) in countries of the Asia-Pacific region, APCTT-ESCAP encouraged and supported sharing of knowledge and lessons learnt on development approaches based on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) among the participating developing and the least developed countries. While this may be construed as promoting South-South cooperation, it is relevant to note that many countries in the Asia-Pacific region also enter into bilateral and multilateral S&T cooperation in specific areas of S&T domains as well as in S&T infrastructure development. The current socio-economic settings of the region and the emerging STI approaches of more advanced developing countries provide opportunities to study, nurture and strengthen South-South STI capacity building for development and transfer of technology for mutual benefit.

The Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Week held in Bangkok from 18 to 22 November 2013 brought together senior policy makers and business stakeholders from across the Asia-Pacific region. During this week, APCTT-ESCAP organized the annual session of its Governing Council, which was attended by Bangladesh, China, Fiji, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Uzbekistan. This opportunity was availed of to organize a one-day meeting to understand the approaches and on-going initiatives of the participating member countries, as well as to brainstorm on the way forward to strengthen the “South-South Cooperation in STI Capacity Building” that supplement and complement APCTT-ESCAP’s programme areas, thus contributing to regional cooperation and economic-integration.

Objectives

  • Understand different approaches to South-South cooperation in STI for development and transfer of technology;
  • Present the concept of “Open Innovation Platform” and share findings of the workshop held in conjunction with the APCTT-ESCAP’s Technical Committee meeting; and
  • Explore opportunities to synergize APCTT-ESCAP’s programme with the ongoing South-South STI programmes of the member countries and international agencies.

Major Outputs
The Head of APCTT-ESCAP pointed out that this meeting brought together the two most important dimension of its work programme – science, technology and innovation (STI), a target focus area, and South-South cooperation, the programme delivery mechanism. He also brought to the attention of the participants Resolution 66/227 adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, which calls for the mainstreaming of South-South Cooperation by United Nations funds and specialized agencies. In the above context APCTT-ESCAP proposed to build on the outcomes of the consultative workshop, which held on the “Open Innovation Platform” (OIP) in Kuala Lumpur on 13-14 November 2013, in conjunction with the conclusions and recommendations of this meeting.

The delegate from Malaysia, where the consultative workshop on OIP was held, elaborated on the outcome of the workshop. He highlighted the challenges to be addressed while adopting or strengthening STI-based economic development. These challenges include high investment needed for R&D and STI infrastructure development, as well as the high degree of specialization required in technical and business aspects. The emerging concept of OIP, though practiced by multinational corporations, is yet to be understood and recognized by many APCTT-ESCAP member countries. Nonetheless, its integration into the design and delivery of national STI programmes provides opportunities and mechanisms to overcome these challenges. He requested APCTT-ESCAP to take a lead role in promoting the concept of South-South cooperation through open innovation.

The Chairman of International Science, Technology and Innovation Centre (ISTIC) elaborated on the mission, past and forthcoming activities of the Centre. The priority programme areas of the Centre were STI policy formulation, techno-entrepreneurship training and inquiry-based science education.

See Annex I for the programme and presentations.

Conclusions and Recommendations
Intense discussions were held during the meeting, and the following are some of the major conclusions and recommendations:

  • It is important to train scientists on various aspects of techno-entrepreneurship to increase the success rate of technology-based start-ups. APCTT-ESCAP in its five-year strategic plan has identified technology business incubator (TBI) as a component of its STI programme of work. Indonesia and the Philippines proposed to build its human capital for techno-entrepreneurship through TBIs and special training programmes with assistance from APCTT-ESCAP and South-South cooperation.
  • While open innovation provides opportunity to add value to the existing solutions and speed up product development and their customization, it requires cultural shift of mind especially concerning intellectual property rights, active scouting of technology and other aspects. There is a need to identify key technologies involving various STI stakeholders and develop a business model.
  • APCTT-ESCAP needs to include open innovation as an important aspect of this STI programme, especially during its ongoing efforts to strengthen NIS in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Prioritization of R&D areas is an important dimension of STI-based national economic development. APCTT-ESCAP, in cooperation with specialized institutions, was requested to assist member countries in this area.
  • Study and benchmark the open innovation practices from different perspectives and apply it through South-South cooperation for STI capacity and capability development to produce better outcomes – such as commercialization of technologies and strengthening of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as an integral part of the innovation eco-system, which are considered important even in the developed economies.
  • It is important to have the national will to develop and deploy STI for national economic development, as demonstrated by the Republic of Korea. It is important to understand and apply the principles of STI approaches and adopt them in the national context of the member countries.
  • SMEs being the most important actor in most of the national economies, it is important to provide assistance and support access, acquisition and assimilation of technologies from any part of the world. This would enhance the technology competitiveness of SMEs in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • STI South-South cooperation needs to focus on areas of common interest and good, like disaster mitigation, drought mitigation and sustainable energy.
  • ICSTIC proposed that APCTT-ESCAP develop joint programmes that are small and doable. Special attention was drawn to the UNESCO high-level conference on women in STI and invited APCTT-ESCAP to jointly organize this programme with ICSTIC.
  • UNESCO action agenda on sustainability science supported by the Government Japan was identified as another area of importance to the APCTT-ESCAP programme of work.


Participants

Eight senior officials from China, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines and Thailand, as well as three experts from ISTIC and the World Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (WASME) participated in this meeting.