Those countries which have been able to master the generation and use of science and technology have seen significant social and economic benefits, says Acting Director of the National Council for Science and Technology (NCST), Charles Cyrus.
He was addressing the opening of the NCST???s symposium today at the Frank Collymore Hall, which has as its theme: Science & Technology Research: Driving Economic Growth – Securing our Future.
While noting that some states had pursued a path to modernising their economies through science, technology and innovation, Mr. Cyrus spoke of Singapore, Malta, Mauritius and Costa Rica having achieved significant gains way beyond those anticipated solely on their natural resource base.??On the other hand, he lamented that others had not leveraged this development.
???Innovation, either in terms of business processes or final product and services, has become crucial for long-term competitiveness and the survival of enterprises. It will also enable those enterprises that embrace it to move up the value ladder. This is of particular importance to businesses in Barbados and the region,??? he said.
However, Mr. Cyrus, accepted that enabling innovation was not without its challenges. He explained that research and development (R&D), which was costly for many countries, would favour large firms.
There was also a need for firms to have greater access to financial and human capital, and the role of the policy maker became one of providing greater access at affordable prices to S&T as tools for enterprises, as well as providing incentives for firms to engage in R&D.
He surmised that a critical step, therefore, in our efforts to close the gap between Barbados and the developed world, would be to put in place frameworks to promote, encourage and use science, technology and innovation for socio-economic development.
The Acting Director added that consistent with the promotion of these efforts had to be public awareness and understanding of S&T and innovation.??Contending that Barbadians needed to go beyond the everyday use of S&T, he said this would necessitate a focus on improving the quantity and quality of R&D.
???R&D helps us to improve our understanding about a particular area, and fosters the creation of new knowledge which may be applied in innovative ways to solve existing problems. R&D therefore, is a critical component of the science, technology and innovation process,??? Mr. Cyrus said.
He also pointed out that emphasis on improving R&D???s quantity and quality was in synch with Pillar Five of the Barbados Human Resource and Development Strategy which addresses the area of enhanced research for innovation on entrepreneurial development.
Meanwhile, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Senator Harry Husbands, in endorsing the sentiments by the NCST, said countries which paid attention to S&T and innovation ???were amongst the more developed and leading in the world???.
???This is the source of many of the new and higher paying jobs in the world and this, if no other factor, is one that motivates the Government of Barbados to also pay special attention to the development of science, technology and innovation in this country,??? Senator Husbands stated.
The event continues tomorrow with a focus on the inaugural S&T Speak-Off Competition where students, ages 15 to 18, will compete in a forum designed to enhance their presentation skills and research capability while encouraging within the youth a culture of S&T research.