JIS News

Regional governments have been urged to focus on learning by experimenting, testing and modifying, rather than simply copying from developed countries, as the need for innovations to ensure competitiveness, market share and jobs expands. The call came today (July 19), from Senior Science and Technology Advisor to the Prime Minister, Dr. Arnoldo Ventura, who was addressing a regional training workshop, being held at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA) and the National Commission on Science and Technology (NCST).
“This means that the usual set of scientific, technological, engineering and marketing capabilities are not enough to meet current development and environmental demand,” Dr Ventura emphasized.
The Senior Advisor said that instead, a wider set of competencies must also be installed to fashion dynamic systems of innovation.
Addressing the topic: ‘Basic Requirements for Building Innovation Systems in Developing Countries’, Dr Ventura noted that these basic requirements included openness, experimentation, coping with uncertainty, dealing with change, questioning so called truths, building trust, working within partnerships across ministries as well as between firms, universities and research bodies, active learning and adaptive policy making.
In respect to policy requirements, Dr. Ventura explained that many regional governments that recently embraced a more open competitive economy had done so without making policy alterations to ensure that public goods were not curtailed and that higher levels of productivity and innovation were realized. “Learning and unlearning, on the part of firms and decision makers, are therefore essential to cope with new challenges that demand new approaches and innovations,” he said.
Dr. Ventura pointed to hindrances to innovations in developing countries. These included rigidities and ineffectiveness in organizations, the quality and relevance of education, which has seen a weak appreciation of scientific methods as problem solving tools; fear of change, weak knowledge networks, implementation gaps and cultural nuances. He noted that these hindrances could be rectified by an adjustment in outlooks, values, attitudes and behaviour, which were, in many instances, more important than physical attributes.
Turning to the specific roles that Governments should play in the move towards building innovative systems in the Caribbean, Dr. Ventura said that “governments can play an essential role by promoting dynamic governance with thoughtful and effective policies, enhancing links between the public and private sectors and creating equitable domestic and international market rules and regulations”.
“Countries in the Caribbean cannot depend on negotiation to solve what are chronic production, productivity and technical problems. Innovations are the main sources of such products and services,” he added.
The workshop, which is being held under the theme: ‘Analyzing the Agricultural Science, Technology and Innovation System’, is being held from July 18 to 22.
It is the second phase of a process of competence-building in a number of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries in applying the innovation systems framework to support science, technology and innovation policy development and implementation.