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Private sector can support development through research, says Potocnik

Whether in the North or in the South, the extent of a country's success in attracting private sector research investment will determine its opportunities for competitiveness and development, EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik has said. 'Europe alone cannot 'c...

Whether in the North or in the South, the extent of a country's success in attracting private sector research investment will determine its opportunities for competitiveness and development, EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik has said. 'Europe alone cannot 'create' development. Nor can the private sector. Nor can research. But together, they can create the conditions for development. That is the task in front of us in the future,' the Commissioner told an audience in Slovenia. Developing countries often look to governments in the North for development assistance, but according to Mr Potocnik, it is investment from private companies that can really make a difference. He pointed out that development, like research, does not necessarily start and end at a country's borders. Mumbai in India, for example, has more millionaires than many individual EU countries, and yet India still clearly falls into the category of 'developing country'. Another Indian city, Bangalore, is producing millionaires faster than anywhere else. 'And what is Bangalore famous for? Its research and development base. Just ask Google, Nokia, Bell and the many other companies there,' said the Commissioner. The EU made a clear statement on the importance of private sector research investment in 2000 when it set the Barcelona target of investing 3% of GDP in research by 2010. Two-thirds of this investment is supposed to come from the private sector. Both the public and private sectors now look likely to miss these targets however. Of course attracting private investment first requires work on the part of public authorities. The EU has put in place various incentives for private investment. In developing countries, the priority should be to strengthen the knowledge base through education, research, infrastructure and training, said Mr Potocnik. 'By doing this, developing countries will be better positioned to tap into the world economy,' he added.