STI Policies for Transformative Change was composed of Jeffrey Orozco from Costa Rica, Diana Suárez from Argentina, Carla Alvial Palavicino and Marlous Blankesteijn from The Netherlands, Chux Daniels from the United Kingdom and South Africa, Fred Steward from the United Kingdom, María José Menendez from Chile, Pietro Moncada-Paterno-Castello from Spain, Saumya Pathak from India, and Florian Wittman from Germany. During the welcome reception on 4th November, we talked about our projects and expectations regarding the Conference as well as the challenges theory and practice will face in the near future. We were all excited about the possibility of thinking outside the box, derived from a new theoretical framework to understand the role of technological change on the process of development.
Regarding the projects, they cover a wide spectrum of issues linked to public policy on science, technology and innovation (STI). The common denominator was that we were convinced that new approaches, concepts and tools are required to reach sustainable development. For instance, Orozco’s and Suarez’s projects are about the need for a new rationale of innovation policies: Orozco’s work focus on Costa Rica and local cases, while Suarez’s work focuses on the gender gap and Industry 4.0 cases in Argentina, as two illustrative challenges for sustainable development. Blankesteijn‘s project reflects and analyses three challenges for STI policy and sustainability: 1. the lack of legitimacy of the actors involved; 2. decreasing support the strong role of government in innovation 3. regulatory barriers. Daniel’s project explores the fourth industrial revolution connected to sustainability challenges and how that can contribute to improve the situation of less developed countries. Menendez’s work reflects on the Chilean Innovation strategy framework and how it has changed or evolved during the last 10 years. Moncada-Paterno-Castello’s project is framed under the European 2030 strategy and aims at developing a conceptual framework capable of maximizing the impact of innovation and technological change. Pathak’s project is about alternative medicine in India and how to incorporate it to regular practices of social security and healthcare systems. Finally, Wittman’s project is about the German Hightech-Strategy 2025, which integrates the search for high-tech development and societal challenges.
During the conference, we have a space to interact and reflect on the issues our projects have in common, and how that is linked to the transformative innovation policy agenda. A very interesting exchange of ideas took place. All of us agree on the fact that a new policy approach is required. The differences in the arguments were explained by the different institutional belonging of the people within the group: academia, policy making, funding agency, non-governmental organization. Once we found a common language, it was easy to identify common elements in our arguments and write some ideas down.
Firstly, we agreed on the fact that a new approach is required, which has to take place in a new space of interaction between actors involved in the process of development, generally speaking, and in any process of transformation in particular. This new space has to be heterogeneous in terms of actors and interests, which means that it has to be a democratic and representative space. Secondly, there was a consensus around the idea that policy has to be an experimental process, which includes stages of design, implementation, monitoring and adjustment. Finally, policy has to be systemic in its design, meaning that is has to be articulated with other policies from the public sector, and other strategies from the private one.
All in all, the lectures and the interactions based on poster presentations and work in smaller groups led to a productive environment for networking, which I am sure will positively impact our research in the near future.