Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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16.5 Key Findings and Lessons from Technology Cooperation

Just as policies and policy instruments have varying effects on the marketability of a technology, they also tend to affect different aspects of the use and operation of the new technology. The salient lessons emerging from cases listed in this chapter include the following:

  1. Technology cooperation can work remarkably well. The global economy has emerged with advanced communication and information access, experts trained internationally, and strong incentives for cooperation. Cooperation is particularly powerful in helping entrepreneurs choose new investments. At the local level, programmes spur local innovation and competition, when supported by broader cooperative networks that pool resources.
  2. Technology cooperation for global environmental protection has proved to be successful in a large number of cases. There is a global concern for environmental protection that is shared by citizens, corporations, and governments in every country. This concern has motivated unprecedented actions including global environmental treaties and accords (e.g. the Kyoto and Montreal Protocols, the Law of the Sea, and regional standard-setting measures for emissions such as SO2 over Europe).
  3. Technology cooperation can be win-win. In addition to being environmentally beneficial, technology cooperation can have additional benefits for participants. Companies gain reputation and access to national technology leaders and markets; engineers are challenged, motivated, and empowered; suppliers find capable customers to help introduce new technology; and end-users save money and improve their quality of life. The financial savings from efficient technologies, reduction of waste, and improved worker productivity often are greater than the costs of cooperative implementation. Nevertheless, win-win scenarios can be complex and multifaceted. In some cases nations or industries can be coerced or induced to adopt ESTs even if they do not initially perceive the benefits. An example is cogeneration of power in India where governmental regulation forced a change that, despite significant industry objections, has proved to have benefits to both the state through added power resources, and to the companies through additional sales and energy security.
  4. Funding is critical to technology cooperation. At a minimum, adequate funding is necessary for organising and managing projects, providing expert consultants, communication, and reporting. In some of the most successful examples of technology cooperation, funds are also available for the incremental costs of the environmentally superior technology (e.g. Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund, see Section 3.3.3 in Chapter 3 and 5.5.7 in Chapter 5).
  5. Technology cooperation requires clear goals and motivation as a precondition for success.
  6. Corporate and government leadership accelerates progress by creating momentum, jointly overcoming market barriers and by promoting market incentives. Corporations are particularly influential in encouraging suppliers to improve environmental performance. Governments are often successful in streamlining regulatory approvals.
  7. Funding institutions as opposed to projects supports institutional capacity and local sustainability. Numerous cases point to an inability on the part of technology recipients to pursue locally appropriate technological solutions (e.g. dispersed renewable energy systems), because international support was only available for technology and not human and institutional resources and capacity.
  8. Failure to seek participation from users or local people in technological adaptations can lead to sub-optimal utilisation or even a complete failure in the use of the technology.
  9. Almost every successful technology cooperation results from the commitment of individual "champions" who motivate, persuade, and manage the technological, political and economic process that leads to eventual dissemination or commercialisation.
  10. Failure to recognise issues of intellectual property rights and proprietary R&D produce significant bottlenecks to greater private-sector involvement in many technology transfer efforts that are environmentally and socially beneficial.
  11. Restructuring of markets for energy, recycled and re-used materials, and property rights for natural resources create opportunities for EST adoption. However, structural changes also create major challenges that require institutional solutions to make ESTs competitive or less costly than more resource-intensive technologies.
  12. National and international action and, in many cases, cooperation and policy initiatives are needed to attach appropriate prices to natural resources. If instituted, many of these policies could significantly reduce the wasteful use and pollution of limited global resources.

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