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Monday, October 01, 2007

Innovation: More than Science and Technology

As global economic competition intensifies, more countries are deliberately using public policy to shape national systems that allow firms to access innovations that can give them a leg up, according to a special section on global innovation policy in the fall edition of Issues in Science and Technology.

The section focuses on national innovation systems in Mexico, Belgium, India, Korea, Japan, and the United States, and includes articles by R. Chidambaram, the principal scientific adviser to the government of India, Sungchul Chung, president of Korea's Science and Technology Policy
Institute, and Fientje Moerman, vice-minister-president of Flanders and minister for economy, enterprise, science, innovation, and foreign trade.

Managing a national innovation system is a constant challenge -- and struggle, according to Charles Wessner, deputy director of the National Research Council's Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy.

"What works in one context will not necessarily work in another," Wessner writes. "What works in one decade will not necessarily work in the next. And with the global economic system in flux, every country must be ready to reexamine and revise its policies.

"These articles contain no easy answers," Wessner continues. "They offer something much more useful: candid and perceptive discussion of the successes and failures that are slowly leading all of us to a better understanding of how innovation can be tapped and directed to achieve human goals."

In the United States, substantial changes in the national innovation system will be needed, argues Christopher Hill of George Mason University. In his article, The Post-Scientific Society, Hill writes that although science and technology will continue to play a vital role in innovation,
the critical ingredients for continued U.S. economic success are likely to come from other disciplines.

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