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UNECE explores strategies for advancing science-business linkages in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus

UNECE explores strategies for advancing science-business linkages in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus

Trade exchange data

The COVID-19 pandemic and the regional conflicts have negatively affected economic development in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus (EESC), significantly disrupting international trade, investment and cooperation. To achieve a resilient recovery and support the transition to knowledge-based and circular economy, innovation will be central to the EESC countries’ abilities to address social and economic challenges.

While governments in the EESC region have already prioritized innovation on the political agenda, the transformative effects of these efforts do not yet sufficiently encourage systematic innovation across EESC economies. Ongoing challenges persist in ensuring the effective coordination of innovation policies to prevent redundancy and gaps in public support. Additionally, there is a need to strengthen connections between scientific research and industry to foster collaboration, co-creation, and the commercialization of innovation. Furthermore, maximizing the impact of tools like public procurement to stimulate innovation demand and spillover effects presents a significant obstacle. To promote innovation, EESC countries must develop flexible, evidence-based policies that facilitate broad experimentation across their economies and societies.

Developing productive capacities, especially for economies in transition in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus, requires innovation – or experimentation with new ideas. Many of these can come from public applied research – but enabling and catalyzing sustainable and dynamic linkages between science and engineering on the one hand, and entrepreneurs and business needs on the other, remains a formidable challenge. Constraints abound, such as the inability to predict innovation, institutional incentives, entrenched interests, and differing cultural dynamics and perspectives.

To support regional policymakers in their efforts to improve national innovation systems, UNECE has decided to host monthly open policy discussions on innovation with a focus on the EESC sub-region as a continuation of the Innovation Policy Outlook (IPO) project. On request of IPO National Focal Points, a unique forum that harnesses the collective expertise, resources, and influence of diverse organizations committed to advancing innovation in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus, UNECE invited one of the foremost experts on innovation, entrepreneurship, and research in countries with economies in transition and beyond, Professor Nicholas Vonortas from George Washington University. Professor Vonortas shared his insights on the value and practice of bringing academia, innovation, and entrepreneurship closer together, and he explored the opportunities in the EESC region and beyond. In particular, he highlighted that systematically building on cultural and family ties to strengthen economic linkages between members of the diaspora and EESC countries carries substantial potential.

The second event in the series will be on the platform economy, featuring esteemed economist and political scientist Professor Michael C. Munger from Duke University. The registration link will be available here.