Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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2.3.2 Core Technologies and Strategic Partnerships

International collaboration in energy R&D involving national governments, the private sector, and university research communities has been cited as important in creating energy technology options for the future and facilitating technology transfer (IEA, 1997, UNEP, 1998; see also Section 4.3, 4.12 and 5.6 on the role of technology partnerships). A survey of 50 energy research institutions conducted for the Climate Technology Initiative found that respondents typically conducted less than 25 per cent of their climate change relevant research under international collaborative arrangements. Such efforts were focused on the planning and research stages rather than on development and deployment of technologies, possibly because governments were the funding source. The study identified a lack of collaboration between OECD countries and countries in Asia and Africa as a gap worth bridging. Furthermore, a feasibility study conducted by the Republic of Korea as part of the work programme of the Commission on Sustainable Development (Chung, 1998 and UNCSD, 1998) notes that there is little coordination of public R&D policies and ODA policies in most donor governments, and that partnership arrangements could yield significant results.

Looking beyond the energy sector, UNCTAD (1998) notes that the number of strategic R&D partnerships in core technologies, such as information technology and biotechnology, has also been rising steadily since 1990. Developing-country companies assumed a bigger role in strategic partnerships (three per cent in 1989 to 13 per cent in 1995), suggesting that these companies may have attained sufficient technological sophistication and capacity to make them worth having as partners (UNCTAD, 1998). Additionally, the OECD notes that R&D by foreign affiliates represented more than 12 per cent of total industrial R&D spending of the 15 OECD countries that account for 95 per cent of industrial R&D undertaken by Member countries (OECD, 1998b). Most of this, however, occurs in a few industrial sectors, among them the computer, pharmaceuticals, electronics, chemicals, and car industries. Parent companies often enter into contracts with their affiliates to carry out specific research, and vice versa. Public financing of the R&D of foreign affiliates is minimal in part because "restrictions remain on foreign participation in government-funded R&D and technology programmes" (OECD, 1999b).

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