Innovation has huge potential to drive sustainable development if supported by a vibrant innovation ecosystem. This requires effective linkages and collaboration at national level, and an innovation culture nurtured by a system of support to start ups and institutions such as business incubators.
With support from UNECE, the State Agency for Intellectual Property and Innovation of Kyrgyzstan (Kyrgyzpatent) brought together key stakeholders – including public, private and academic – in a Task Force to discuss policy priorities to strengthen the innovation infrastructure. This comes as Kyrgyzstan awaits the opening of the first State Innovation Centre in Bishkek. Other achievements of Kyrgyzpatent and universities include 100,000 students involved in 11 business incubators, and a high-profile start-up competition.
Despite such progress, COVID-19 has added to the urgency of harnessing technological change for sustainable development in Kyrgyzstan. Countries with effective innovation ecosystems and infrastructures will be better placed to create new opportunities for improved livelihoods during this period of transition, including moving towards a more circular economy. Innovation thus becomes an imperative, pushing businesses to find better solutions to old and evolving problems alike.
Transition economies have scope to “leapfrog” to become cradles of innovation and create new sectors, but there is a narrow window to put in place the agile and well-targeted policy measures to achieve this. In particular, as low-productivity and resource-intensive sectors decline, it is crucial to create attractive opportunities to retain skilled workers. It is also important to leverage the economic potential of the diaspora to create international linkages and support integration into regional and global value chains.
The Task Force discussed the thematic areas to be included in a Roadmap, including the innovation infrastructure, skills and access to finance. Key success factors were highlighted as including the ability to generate and pursue start-up ideas, develop competitive products, and access financial support. Priorities for attention include fragmented stakeholder coordination, as well as limited entrepreneurial incentives and financial instruments. Measuring progress and policy effectiveness was also raised as a priority by participants.
UNECE support is based on recommendations of the UNECE Innovation for Sustainable Development Review of Kyrgyzstan (2019), the SPECA Innovation Strategy for Sustainable Development and priority areas for innovation policy and sustainable development identified by the national authorities. A UNECE Handbook on business incubators for sustainable development in the SPECA countries is also forthcoming.
Support for this activity was provided by the UN Development Account (UNDA) project “Strengthening innovation policies for SPECA countries in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
Further information about the webinar, including speakers’ presentations, can be found at:
Further information on the UN Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) can be found at: