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Research and innovation keys to competitiveness says OECD Council meeting

Research and innovation are crucial to competitiveness and have a vital role to play in addressing major global challenges such as climate change and sustainable development, according to the participants at the recent OECD Ministerial Level Council meeting on innovation, grow...

Research and innovation are crucial to competitiveness and have a vital role to play in addressing major global challenges such as climate change and sustainable development, according to the participants at the recent OECD Ministerial Level Council meeting on innovation, growth and equity in Paris. Speaking at the opening session of the meeting, OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría outlined the three pillars of innovation: education, investment in science and technology and a business-oriented environment. 'One of the most eloquent indicators of the health and potential of a national economy is the level of research and development (R&D) it generates,' he said, adding, 'augmenting the science, technology and innovation capacity of our member countries is an imperative'. During the meeting, the ministers agreed that with productivity losing momentum in a number of OECD regions, there is a need to improve the framework conditions for innovation. They also highlighted the importance of investing in education systems to ensure a steady supply of researchers and skilled workers for the future, and boosting private sector investment in innovation. Sectors which stand to benefit most from innovation include health care, energy, water and public services, as well as eco-innovation. The ministers also welcomed plans for an 'OECD innovation strategy'. The strategy will be formulated around evidence-based analysis and benchmarking, and include new indicators on the link between innovation and economic performance. It will also look at how innovation can address challenges in sectors such as the environment and health. In addition, the ministers asked the OECD to investigate the impact of innovation on the services sector. The question of intellectual property rights (IPR) was also raised at the meeting. This could also be addressed by the innovation strategy, with a view to finding the right balance between promoting an open business environment for innovation while protecting intellectual property.