Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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15.6.1 Incentives for Transnational Technology Transfer

Similar to in-country technology transfer, the incentives for the international transfer and diffusion of coastal-adaptation technologies are not predominantly commercial. Amongst the stakeholders, the goals of the international business community are increased global market share for their products and hence, increased profits. However, as stated before, the coastal-technology sector is fragmented and consists mostly of small companies that lack the resources to initiate technology transfer. Scientists need to be aware of new scientific advances so that their own accomplishments do not re-invent already published work, and that their research both builds on complimentary work and identifies other leading researchers. To fulfil their missions, government organisations must have access to the best available technologies and latest information. Therefore, national governments are the primary investors in and sources of coastal-adaptation technologies, and governments at all levels comprise the predominant market.

Coastal adaptation to climate change is a transnational issue-it cannot be addressed within the borders of one country, no matter how effective and creative the decision-makers, innovative the academic relationships and dynamic the private sector are in advancing the deployment of appropriate technologies. Alliances for technology transfer between countries are a way to leverage shortages or complement the skills of local scientists and engineers, share financial and other resources and develop and extend access of technical assistance and capacity building to strategic locations around the world (Kozmetsky, 1990). An example is the EU Marine and Science Technology (MAST) programme, which requires partnerships of at least two non-affiliated partners from two member states or from one member state and an associated state. The EU International Co-operation with Developing Countries (INCO-DC) and ASEAN Environment Programme (ASEP) are two examples of many programmes supporting scientific cooperation between industrialised and developing countries to stimulate collaborative research and broaden knowledge of all partners.

An example of effective multinational, cross-institutional cooperation is the development of airborne lidar (light detection and ranging) technology for shoreline topography and bathymetry surveying (Lillycrop and Estep, 1995). The technology offers a significant advance in capabilities for collecting, analysing, using and retaining critical data for coastal management. One airborne lidar system for bathymetry surveying was developed by a small Canadian company, with financial support from the Canadian government. In 1988, the United States' Army Corps of Engineers and the Canadian government began a shared-cost programme for the design, construction and field verification of the lidar technology. The original Canadian private-sector developer provided technical-design support, an American surveying company provided evaluation services, and both governments provided financial and operational support. Lidar is now operational and has been applied in a number of countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, The Netherlands and Australia.

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