June 12, 2006
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INSTITUTIONALIZING TECHNOLOGY PROCESS IS KEY TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN EMERGING GROWTH NATIONS ACCORDING TO EXPERTS AT GENEVA ROUNDTABLE
Acquiring Best-fit Technologies is Critical Step for Emerging Growth Nations; Roundtable Hosted by GW Law's Creative and Innovative Economy Center
WASHINGTON - Developing comprehensive, realistic technology management strategies are critical to improving economic growth in poor and moderate income nations according to discussants participating in a roundtable hosted by The George Washington University Law School's Creative and Innovative Economy Center (CIEC). More than 30 trade representatives from a dozen countries participated in today's event held at the Restaurant Le Cent Suisses in Geneva, Switzerland.
"Leaders in emerging nations usually want to foster the development of sexy, highly innovative technologies in their countries to spur economic growth," said John Kilama, president of Global Bioscience Development Institute. "The best opportunities, however, are usually not the cutting-edge technologies that make the headlines, but technologies that are more easily accessible."
Kilama noted that "commodity technologies," those technologies already in the public domain, are much better economic development opportunities for nations that do not have the culture or infrastructure to support grander initiatives. Water purification, soil remediation, industrial enzyme development and agribusiness projects are examples of areas that emerging nations should initially consider when transitioning their economies. These technologies, Kilama explains, do not require as much infrastructure as "innovative technologies."
"It is difficult for nations to plunge into developing sophisticated technologies when they are just coming out of an agriculture-based economy," said CIEC Director Michael P. Ryan. "A country needs a culture and an educational system that can support highly advanced technology if their investment is to pay off. My recommendation is to keep it simple, encourage simpler technologies first and grow into more innovative technologies later."
Kilama cited several examples of companies operating in Africa embracing commodity technologies. One illustration is Med Biotech Laboratories in Uganda (www.mblab.or.ug), a bio-informatics lab that seeks to reduce the disease burden in Africa and set up an infrastructure for high-technology biomedical research. Through their work in malaria and river blindness, conducted since 1997, they have identified several important genes that might provide useful insights for the development of new drugs and diagnostics.