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For investment in research to catalyse innovation-led growth in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus, scientific research and entrepreneurship must come closer together


UNECE is deepening cooperation in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus (EESC) (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine) to support innovation-led, sustainable growth in line with the United Nations Agenda 2030. Effective innovation policy, which facilitates the broad experimentation with new ideas to create value, plays a particularly important role in building competitive economies, whilst also addressing the Sustainable Development Goals, such as environmental sustainability and poverty reduction, and the transition to a more circular economy. An important structural element underpinning well-functioning innovation systems are science-business linkages (SBLs), the interaction and exchange of scientific and practical knowledge between the science and business sector. These are still relatively underdeveloped in the EESC sub-region.

To address this challenge, UNECE organised its second virtual Innovation Policy Outlook (IPO) Sub-regional Policy Dialogue on 25 January, to explore current trends, good practices, and pitfalls in fostering SBLs in EESC countries. The event also featured a case-study on the experiences and lessons learnt in Sweden – a country which has experimented with different approaches to ensure the right dynamics in SBLs arise. The event brought together policy makers, private sector representatives, independent experts, and international partner organisations.

This Policy Dialogue builds on the analysis of the first UNECE Sub-regional Innovation Policy Outlook (IPO), which supports innovation policy reform efforts in EESC countries by assessing and benchmarking the scope, quality, and effectiveness of innovation policies, institutions and processes, and provides concrete recommendations on how to enhance their productivity and effectiveness.

Key outcomes of the event include the following: while EESC governments continue to invest in public research, efforts do not yet translate into systematic innovation activity in the private sector. SBLs are still at an initial stage of development, with only fragmented policy instruments in place to stimulate cooperation, leaving significant potential for commercialisation of research and knowledge and technology exchange for innovation unexploited. To maximise the impact of investments into research, ensuring they have a catalytic effect on innovation activity, public policy needs to enable and encourage interactions and collaboration between business, research, academia, and other relevant innovation stakeholders more systematically.

The meeting outcomes will feed into an analytical chapter on policies to support SBLs of the interim IPO (2022). This IPO will offer recommendations for policy reform in the sub-region, UNECE normative support and capacity-building activities in the countries. It is set to be published at the end of 2022.

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