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Workshop on National Technology Innovation System of Lao People’s Democratic Republic with Emphasis on Technology Transfer

19-20 December 2012
Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Organized by
Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology (APCTT) of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) New Delhi, India

in cooperation with and hosted by
Department of Technology and Innovation (DTI), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Supported by
Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India

Brief Report
Co-organizer
Department of Technology and Innovation (DTI), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Background
Technology transfer is a key functional component of national innovation system (NIS). The key actors (academia, R&D institutions and industries) of an NIS have to nurture a dynamic and efficient relationship among them to develop, transfer and commercialize technologies that are relevant to the market and socio-economic developments of the country. This requires strengthening of the capacity of national institutions on critical aspects affecting technology transfer such as: (a) national technology innovation policies and implementation strategies; (b) innovation capacity building of small and medium enterprises; (c) development of human resources for technology innovation; (d) promoting linkages and partnerships among R&D institutions, academia and small and medium enterprises (SMEs); (e) issues and opportunities of technology transfer; and (f) national policies governing technology transfer. Lao People’s Democratic Republic is in the process of developing a science, technology and innovation (STI) policy and a national law on technology transfer. APCTT-ESCAP was requested to assist in enhancing the understanding of the overarching concept of NIS and its key components, and to facilitate an understanding of the governance of technology transfer in selected countries of the Asia-Pacific region. In this context, APCTT-ESCAP organized the national workshop in Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

The target group of the workshop included: (a) senior officials from the Department of Technology and Innovation (DTI), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of Lao People’s Democratic Republic; (b) senior officials from other ministries/departments of the Government of Lao People’s Democratic Republic; (c) senior officials from the Lao National Chamber of Commerce; and (d) the academia.

Objectives

  • Strengthen the understanding of the importance of national technology innovation policy framework to promote technology transfer and commercialization by key actors (academia, R&D institutions and industries) of Lao People’s Democratic Republic;
  • Enhance knowledge of key stakeholders on various institutional mechanisms to promote linkages and partnerships among R&D institutions, which would eventually catalyse technology transfer and commercialization; and
  • Share best practices and lessons learned from other countries in the Asia-Pacific region on technology transfer management as a key component of technology innovation system for the promotion of SMEs.

Major Outputs
The workshop commenced with a Welcome Address by Mr. Soumana Choulamany, Director General, Department of Technology and Innovation (DTI), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The Opening Address delivered by Mr. N. Srinivasan, In-Charge of Innovation Management in APCTT-ESCAP underlined the importance of NIS in the current global settings. In his inaugural address, Mr. Shakone Chaleunvong, Vice-Minister, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, noted that technology and innovation play an important role in meeting the needs of people, achieving socio-economic development of the country and enhancing national competitiveness to address the challenges of participating in the global open market economy. In this context, he pointed out that the Government of Lao People’s Democratic Republic emphasized on science, technology and innovation for catalysing development and poverty reduction, while aiming at achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the country achieving developing country status by 2020. He also elaborated upon the various policies and regulations formulated and promulgated by the government on standards, metrology, intellectual property, etc. The Minister informed that a national strategy on science and technology has been already approved by the government.

The first session was devoted to national technology innovation policies and implementation strategies and sharing of best practices. At this session, APCTT-ESCAP presented an overview of the emerging national policy approaches to strengthen technology innovation and components of national innovation system (NIS). The resource persons invited by APCTT-ESCAP from the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam presented national experiences on innovation policies and implementation strategies in their respective countries.

The second session deliberated on the national technology innovation strategy of Lao People’s Democratic Republic and the related challenges and opportunities. In this session, DTI of the Ministry of Science and Technology presented an overview of the technology transfer status in the country. National experts from Lao People’s Democratic Republic also presented their views and experiences in this session. A representative from the Lao National Chamber of Commerce highlighted the need for strengthening innovation capacity building of SMEs for green growth. An expert from the Ministry of Education and Sports dwelt on the issue of development of human resources for technology innovation-led green growth and green economy. An expert from the Faculty of Engineering, National University of Laos, spoke on promoting linkages and partnerships among R&D institutions, academia and SMEs in Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

During the fourth session on technology transfer management as a component of technology innovation system, the participants were introduced to the issues and opportunities of technology transfer. In this session, presentations were made by invited experts on national policies governing technology transfer in the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam.

The fifth session was devoted to panel discussions focusing on the structuring of an institutional and governance infrastructure for managing technology transfer under the national technology innovation system of Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The discussions resulted in several recommendations as outlined in the following section.

See Annex I for the programme and presentations.

Conclusions and Recommendations

  • There is a need to coordinate and synchronize the actions of different ministries with respect to technology innovation.
  • The country needs to clearly outline the goals of its science and technology strategy, identify core competency, prioritize technology areas, and prepare a roadmap for technology-based development. Technology needs assessment could be considered as the basis for developing a long-term strategy.
  • Availability of competent and qualified pool of human resources are necessary to adapt, absorb and localize imported technologies, particularly through foreign direct investment (FDI). This necessitates the need for development and strengthening of local capacity of domestic human resources. Talent mobility between industry and universities is also considered vital.
  • Private sector participation is essential to strengthen innovation and technology transfer in the country. In this context, university research should be made interesting and relevant to the private sector. The universities could play a supporting role for SMEs in solving their technical problems.
  • FDI projects should have components of both technology transfer and capacity building.
  • A viable technology transfer strategy could include: selecting appropriate technologies for the country as per the needs and suitability; localization of technologies that would strengthen technological capabilities, including management of technology; and setting targets for adapting and assimilating the technologies that enhance national competitiveness.
  • There is a need to develop intermediary agencies that can connect the industry and universities for technology transfer and commercialization.
  • There is need to focus on capacity development of SMEs in various aspects of the technology transfer process.
  • Establishment of technology intelligence centres could also play an important role in providing relevant information to SMEs.
  • Developing trust and confidence among the key stakeholders in an NIS is key to the success of technology transfer.

Participants
Nine national and international resource persons from APCTT-ESCAP, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam shared their knowledge and experiences, while about 40 participants from various ministries, departments, national agencies and SME support organizations in Lao People’s Democratic Republic actively participated in the workshop.

See Annex II for the list of participants.