A total of 8 policy support services have already been implemented under this innovative mechanism, with initial results that merit a look back.
The establishment by the Research and Innovation (R&I) Programme of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) of a support mechanism for R&I policies is important for a number of reasons.
In a world of rapid scientific and technological changes, R&I is recognised by the 79 OACPS member countries as a key driver of sustainable development. They can provide evidence for decision-making, create exploitable knowledge, find innovative solutions to pressing challenges (climate change, food, energy and water insecurity, epidemics, etc.), accelerate growth and the green transition, and reduce poverty.
OACPS member countries must also prepare for these rapid changes, which will have a profound impact on their economies and societies. The development of frontier technologies, such as artificial intelligence, robotics and biotechnology, can be a major lever for sustainable development. These cutting-edge technologies could represent a market worth 3.2 trillion dollars by 2025, according to an UNCTAD Technology and Innovation Report- 2021. But they also run the risk of exacerbating inequalities and creating new digital divides, if they are not accompanied by appropriate policies to make the best possible use of them.
At the same time, their innovation performance is still too often hindered by the lack of appropriate policies and mechanisms for the strategic management of R&I and better exploitation of its results. Today, it is crucial to promote synergies between all R&I players, to adapt skills to market needs, and to optimise the use of often limited resources, so that research and innovation respond to countries’ development priorities, while being more result-oriented and beneficial to society. The aim is not only to speed up discoveries or technology transfers, but also to enable innovations to enter the market more quickly, and to be translated into products and services that are affordable and useful for businesses and people.
The Policy Support Facility (PSF) provides, at the request of national or regional public authorities in charge of R&I in OACPS member countries, tailor-made services, deployed by independent experts, to help countries to:
- Develop and implement R&I policies and strategies.
- Design measures to bring research, higher education and industry closer together.
- Set up operational instruments to boost the competitiveness of research.
8 services have already been implemented, mobilising on the ground more than 40 independent (national, regional and international) experts from OACPS member countries and the European Union:
- 5 on the development of R&I strategies and policies (Lesotho, Cameroon, Mauritania, Guinea, including a mutual learning exercise involving 13 mainly African countries).
- 1 on the creation of a National Innovation Fund (Gambia).
- 1 on the development of an R&I programme and the creation of a digital repository (Timor-Leste).
- 1 to strengthen the commercialisation of R&D results and the coordination of innovation centres (Kenya).
Through these services, the PSF has produced the following results:
Other services are about to be launched. They will focus in particular on sub-regional approaches and the sharing of experience in order to identify success factors and good practices for tackling current or emerging common problems.