Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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4.12.2 Policy and institutional environment

Some governments have developed clear policy guidelines not only on R&D financing, but also on the innovative activities required by recipients of such funding and specific areas requiring ESTs. In most countries, particularly in OECD countries, government policies play a role in the generation, development and transfer of technologies. They stimulate innovations in the areas of ESTs through regulatory policies that set environmental standards in areas such as emissions, and they also facilitate the process of encouraging public-private partnership in technology transfer and diffusion (see also Section 5.5 in Chapter 5 on Public-Private Partnerships). Some countries have also developed incentive schemes such as tax incentives, preferential loans, financial grants and other incentive measures designed to support the process of transfer and commercialisation of ESTs (UNCTAD, 1998; Clark and Paolucci, 1997; Clark, 1999; Lanjouw and Mody, 1996). In some developing countries, the implementation of market liberalisation policies has created an environment for technology transfer through strategic technological alliances, mergers and acquisitions of foreign firms as the case of South Korea shows (Lee and Chung, 1997).

It is perhaps during the last 4 to 5 decades, that the private sector has taken up research and development activities, but these have been partly supported through government funding. The private sector contribution has also come about, often due to policies of governments to encourage R&D, by giving certain incentives such as tax breaks, etc. It is the government that has taken on the role of underwriting the initial expenditure on research and development, on which returns are perhaps uncertain, and bear a significant amount of risk. Also, where it relates to technologies that have to be disseminated across consumer categories, it is again the government that has taken on this important role. This has been undertaken through exhibitions, mobile vans, and local dissemination centres, on which the government spends a substantial amount of funds. In ministries such as environment, renewables, rural development, etc., at least 10% of the total outlay, or more in some cases, is allocated for dissemination. Support is also provided by way of setting up new institutions and strengthening existing ones through capacity building for personnel, equipment and for dissemination (Section 5.6 in Chapter 5 provides more information on technology intermediaries).

One of the major findings of this OECD expert meeting on publicly-funded R&D is that governments of several countries support programmes for the environment industry , however, coordinated efforts for the development and market access of environmental technologies and services is lacking.

In the light of the 1995 OECD study cited above, many OECD countries are evaluating the bilateral development cooperation polices with developing countries to facilitate the transfer of ESTs via their Official Development Assistance (ODA) programmes. Many of the new initiatives seek to increase North-South technology partnerships through encouragement of joint ventures, licensing, joint technology development and the creation of information clearinghouses and "matchmaking" services needed to make both suppliers and potential technology users aware of the opportunities in the area of ESTs (OECD, 1996).

In addition to the bilateral initiatives are multilateral initiatives. Typical examples of such multilateral initiatives are the Climate Technology Initiative (CTI) which was founded in 1995 as a voluntary initiative by 23 OECD/IEA member countries and the European Commission to support the technology-related climate objectives of the Framework Convention on Climate Change (OECD, 1996; OECD, 1997 ; EU Commission, 1997; CTI Press Release, 1997; Guy, 1997). In 1984 an international research cooperation network in the area of science and technology, linking 21 Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries from Europe and Latin America was created. This programme is supported by several international organisations and it involves different models of cooperation between universities, R&D centres and enterprises.

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