Public Policies on Science, Technology and Innovation in Latin America: Specific And Common Challenges

eva1Today , innovation plays a central role in public agendas of development in almost all countries in the region, although this central role is most frequently recorded level discussions and statements at the level of budget allocation. In the last decade there has been in Latin America a new impetus to the agenda for Science , Technology and Innovation.




The experience of Latin America and the Caribbean in the design and implementation of public policies on Science, Technology and Innovation date back to the 1950’s at which time most countries laid the foundations for the creation of infrastructure for the management of scientific and technological policies to support the creation of endogenous scientific capacity in the region and support national industrialization strategies. From the linear supply model that prevailed in those years, the countries of the region have moved towards more sophisticated models that focus on public-private partnerships for innovation, going during the 80s and 90s through a phase of linear models of demand in the which public policies played a marginal role and simply provide incentives for the revitalization of the private sector.
The major theoretical advancement in the formulation of public policies for innovation in Latin America and the Caribbean during the last decade has been the incorporation of the concept of «national innovation system» as a framework for the design and implementation of policies. The focus of national innovation systems is the perception of innovation as a nonlinear deterministic and complex phenomenon, which requires the interaction of different actors who respond to market incentives, such as companies, and «non-market» actors such as universities and research centers and the public institutions that establish the governance system of incentives and interactions between different actors in the system.
The dynamics of innovation thus depends not only the efforts of a particular company or research center but also on the interaction between them and the systemic capacity to create optimal conditions and incentives for innovation. In this context, public policy plays a key role in supporting the development of science, technology and innovation, especially in contexts where the specialization in production processes is oriented towards sectors that are intensive in natural resources or manpower, operating with low technology content and in itself require little knowledge (ECLAC, 2004; Cimoli, Ferraz and Primi, 2009).
Increasingly it is recognized that the introduction of new processes, new products, new business models and new ways of organizing production represent the determining factors for a path sustainable growth. In this respect the policies on science, technology and innovation have evolved towards more open models that contemplate both actions to support the generation of scientific and technological capacities in frontier sector as well as instruments to promote the modernization of production systems and adaptation of «soft» innovations that enhance the competitiveness of firms operating in Latin American and the Carribean.
Latin America and the Caribbean face the challenge of designing and implementing policies for science, technology and innovation capable, on one hand, to accompany the desired structural change accompanying the process of diversification and the creation of new sectors and on the other hand, promote the modernization and competitiveness in the more traditional sectors. Add to this difficult task the challenge of managing policies in an open and globalized economy, that on the one hand offers opportunities for accelerated growth through enhanced export, but on the other hand, generate adverse incentives for the diversification of productive operations and the development of scientific and technological capabilities, unless eplicit policy measures are taken to counter this development.
In line with the changes taking place in the most advanced countries, innovation is increasingly a cross-cutting issue that is central to the agenda of different government agencies, such as in the case of health care, energy, environment, education, agriculture and industrial production. In this sense there is a growing need to create opportunities for coordination between different sectoral agendas (from various government agencies) to increase the effectiveness of public strategy and actions. This increases the complexity of managing public policies on science, technology and innovation because policy makers are faced with different visions and concepts in each sector (business competitiveness, scientific discoveries, dissemination of good practices that respect the environment, application of clean tech technologies, etc.) that all involve and require different policy tools, and defines the relationships with the government differently.

Posted on: 03/01/2013
Information Reference: https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.oecd.org%2Fcentrodemexico%2F47435448.pdf

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