“The analytical shift which have occurred from science and technology to innovation described in section 1 have brought to the forefront a vision on development which fully
acknowledges the “endogenous” nature of innovation, rather than the external nature of technological change. That process of innovation is actually much more complex in a
developing country context than in a developed country one. As has only recently become recognized in the endogenous growth literature10, the appropriate innovation
policy challenge for a country will be closely associated with its level of development.
In a high income country context, the innovation policy challenge will increasingly become directed towards questions about the non-sustainability of processes of “creative
destruction” within environments that give increasingly premiums to insiders, to security and risk aversiveness; ultimately to the maintenance of income and wealth. In an
emerging, developing country context, by contrast, the innovation policy challenge appears more directed towards traditional, “backing winners”, industrial science and
technology policies. How to further broaden an emerging national technological expertise in the direction of international competitiveness and specialisation? Such broadening
often already involves a much stronger recognition on the part of policy makers of the importance of engineering and design skills and of accumulating “experience” rather than
just R&D investments. Finally in most least developed countries, often characterized by “disarticulated” knowledge systems, with a couple of islands of relatively isolated, underfunded public research labs, the endogenous innovation policy challenge is most complex of all, but has at the same time, the highest chances to contribute directly to development.
At all levels of development and independent of the particular location of formal R&D activities, the most important enabling feature for such endogenous innovation processes
appears today to be access. Access not just to the formal pieces of codified knowledge alone, but also access to the tools and (legal) ability to replicate and improve upon
existing knowledge. It is in this sense that international research collaboration takes on a new meaning, one not just of open research and open science, but one also of research collaboration and collaborative innovation.
The implications for international research partnerships are straightforward.
First, and to some extent at the opposite of Dudley Seers post-colonial vision of the 70’s, research for development shouldn’t “come home” in terms of a geographical focus on
Europe’s development challenges, but should rather become systematically and fully integrated in any research activity in the developed country world. Become a core part of
most research (public or private) and higher education institutions within an open, global research without borders environment. In most research areas, whether dealing with
health, life sciences and the spreading of diseases, food safety and nutrition, material sciences, energy saving, water management, waste disposal, migration, urban
development, sustainable development, social sciences and humanities, economics and business studies, some of the most challenging research questions are taking place within
Second, research for development involves also the broadening of the scope of research activities to include much more systematically users groups, and in particular various
communities of practice. Involvement of those groups appears increasingly essential for successful innovation. As highlighted in section 1c) above, certainly with respect to
applied research, including design, the possibilities of such collaborative innovation processes will have to involve much stronger collaboration, interactions, and partnerships
with research communities in developing countries.
Third, the particular role of involving users in international research partnerships point to the particular role of NGOs, as initiators of research for development projects. NGOs
have grown worldwide to become often sophisticated, professional organisations with a wealth of user knowledge, local community expertise and a not-for-profit interest which
gives in a certain way a “voice” to many needs at the bottom of the income pyramid where markets are invisible. Elsewhere, we have used Hirschman’s (1970) “exit, voice and loyalty” framework to analyze the particular contribution of NGO’s to the global governance debate (Soete and Weehuizen, 2003). NGO’s provide, by no means exclusively, to some extent the voice of the ‘voiceless’”.
L. Soete (2008). International Research Partnerships on the move.
Luc Soete stond in 2007 hoog in de ScienceGuide EuroToptien. Zijn reactie daarop leest u hier .