Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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4.13 Conclusions

The discussion in this chapter on an enabling environment for technology transfer has produced several conclusions:

  1. Governments can review whether their combination of laws concerning foreign investment, taxes, potential market growth and corruption would induce a firm to risk investment. Bureaucratic screening procedures, performance requirements and asset insecurity also act as barriers to foreign investment and could be addressed by policy changes that aim to attract foreign capital and technology.
  2. Governments can devise participatory mechanisms and adopt processes which can harness the networks, skills and knowledge of community groups and non-governmental organisations to better meet user needs, avoid delays and achieve greater success with technology transfer.
  3. Capacity-building is required at all stages in the process of technology transfer. It is a slow and complex process to which long-term commitments must be made for resources and to which the host country must also be committed if results are to bear fruit. Fundamental change requires an autonomous capacity to innovate, acquire and adapt technologies. Specific needs are for additional resources at the assessment and repetition stages: (a) to ensure there is a broad national commitment to environmentally sound technologies and that those most appropriate for national circumstances are selected; and (b) to ensure that indigenous capacity for ongoing innovation is developed to encourage North-North, South-North and South-South flows. For adaptation there is a need to strengthen scientific expertise and institutions capable of undertaking the relevant assessments; to promote linkages with this infrastructure to other parts of the public and private sectors; and to identify relevant tools and techniques to produce outputs for nationally determined priorities.
  4. Fundamental social structures and personal values (i.e., social factors) evolve along with a society's physical infrastructure, private and public institutions, and the technologies embodied within them. New (climate friendlier) technological trajectories for an economy can provide great opportunities. Governments can support the establishment of dynamic flexible learning mechanisms within the private sector and with the rest of civil society, not only at national level -- national systems of innovation, but also at a level of sub-national region -'the learning region.'
  5. A market transformation approach promotes replicable, ongoing technology transfers rather than one-time transfers. In such an approach, public policy can consider what are the set of institutions which underlie markets and what are appropriate public interventions to shape those institutions. It is useful to consider a broad brush of measures within a market transformation approach such as: technology adaptation, the need for enterprise-technological capability, subsidies, consumer education, and marketing.
  6. To reduce contract risk, property risk, and regulatory risks, particularly in private-sector-driven pathways, governments can strengthen national legal institutions for intellectual property protection; strengthen administrative and law processes to assure transparency, participation in regulatory policy-making, and independent review; and strengthen legal institutions to reduce risks.
  7. Governments can work with the private sector and establish codes, standards and labels. This provides a framework which can work to the benefit of industry and consumers. This route can help build markets for dispersed, small-scale technologies where technologies are diverse, vendors are many, and consumers face high risks in evaluating and selecting technologies and suppliers. Codes and standards also provide a means for representing the interests (i.e., to cost-effective levels of efficiency) of end-users who are absent from purchasing or construction decisions. Standards also allow consumers to be less knowledgeable about the equipment they are purchasing.
  8. The principle of cost-effective reduction should not be uncritically applied in all cases, but rather each technology transfer case, whether government to government, private sector to private sector or community to community should be examined on a case by case basis to see what the social impacts will be and whether these are unavoidable or can be reduced. Governments may wish to develop criteria for ensuring that technology transfer projects do not disempower or negatively influence weaker social groups in a society. Such guidelines could draw from guidelines on integrating gender issues in technology development .
  9. The experience in agriculture, forestry, and use of other natural resources has shown that the successful introduction of new technologies or modification of resource use often depends on a recognition of the existing forms of property rights, or on taking steps to create an optimal property rights regime. With an understanding of the existing - legal and actual - forms of property rights, technologies or modified resource uses can be adapted to fit the property relations. If property issues are taken into account, those introducing new technologies or proposing modifications in land or resource use can be more assured of the support of the target populations or groups.
  10. Governments have been investing for three decades in RTD for environmentally sound energy technologies in the energy sector, often working with the private sector. There may be a case for seeing whether results from these processes have been used and disseminated sufficiently. Developing countries' RTD efforts are often adaptive, following externally developed technology, suggesting the need for additional resources to develop indigenous innovative capacity. RTD and the process of innovation are closely linked, but innovation has been found to fail at the level of capability-the ability to focus specific sets of resources in a particular way (e.g., financial management, marketing, understanding user needs, etc.)-rather than because of inadequate resources or hardware. The process of dissemination depends closely on influencing key opinion formers, at government-departmental level, industry level, firm level or community level.

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