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G8 vows to boost innovation

Leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) countries meeting in the German seaside resort of Heiligendamm have pledged to promote and protect innovation. 'Science, research and innovation today more than ever form the basis of economic growth and prosperity,' the leaders write in the...

Leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) countries meeting in the German seaside resort of Heiligendamm have pledged to promote and protect innovation. 'Science, research and innovation today more than ever form the basis of economic growth and prosperity,' the leaders write in the Summit Declaration. 'We will undertake to bring forward an international economic and political environment that promotes and protects innovation.' The section of the declaration entitled 'Promoting Innovation - Protecting Innovation' focuses on two main areas - innovation for sustainable growth and intellectual property protection. On the former, the leaders state: 'Because we strive to provide scientific and technical leadership we also recognise our responsibility for a long-term oriented research initiative that will focus on concentration of scientific research and improved technological capacity in order to be able to react most effectively to future global challenges.' Developing countries are specifically invited to get involved in this process, and the leaders also call for a strengthening of research cooperation between developed and developing countries. Possible areas for cooperation identified by the leaders are sustainable land and water use, energy efficiency and the promotion of environmentally-related innovations. 'We will work together to achieve more effective coordination and cooperation in our research efforts in these fields,' the declaration reads. The leaders suggest that the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) coordinate this effort via the Global Science Forum (GSF). On intellectual property rights, the declaration states: 'The benefits of innovation for economic growth and development are increasingly threatened by infringements of intellectual property rights worldwide.' The leaders pledge to strengthen cooperation in this area, and endorse a number of existing sets of guidelines and recommendations on the topic. Innovation is also one of four priorities highlighted in the new 'Heiligendamm Process', a high level, structured dialogue between the G8 countries (France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Canada, Japan, Russia and the US) and five major emerging economies (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa). The goal of the dialogue is to develop common solutions to major challenges which neither the G8 nor the emerging economies could tackle alone. 'Such a dialogue will provide a forum for the positive exchange on topics critical for growth of successful knowledge economies and the promotion of an innovation-friendly business environment also taking into account the needs of small and medium sized enterprises,' the leaders write in the declaration. The discussions are expected to cover intellectual property protection, effective market incentives for innovation and the importance of efficient innovation value chains that promote business commercialisation of patented research results. Other topics slated for discussion under the Heiligendamm Process are: enhancing freedom of investment; defining common responsibilities for development with special regard to Africa; and sharing knowledge for improving energy efficiency and technology cooperation with the aim to contribute to reducing CO2 emissions. The OECD will provide a platform for the dialogue, which will get underway in the second half of the year. The final report on the outcomes of the dialogue is due to be presented at the G8 summit in Italy in 2009.

Countries

Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, United States