The Indonesian government asks Globelics to help improve innovation systems

The most recent Globelics Conference (October 2016) hosted by the University of Padjadajaran in Bandung, Indonesia, caught the attention of the Government of Indonesia and during the conference a meeting between Globelics and representatives from the office of the Indonesian President and from several ministries and agencies was held. This meeting has now led to a request for future cooperation from the Indonesian Government. Especially the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education is enthusiastic to continue seeking input from Globelics in improving the Indonesian innovation system.

 

Not only about new ideas, but also how to apply new ideas in practice

Bengt-Åke Lundvall, General Secretary of Globelics and Professor at Aalborg University, explains that the reason why the knowledge of the researchers of the Globelics network is appealing for governments in developing countries is because “the approach of Globelics is not just about making good quality science and good quality education, but also about how to transform this knowledge in to practical use. This is what we mean by innovation.” Lundvall continues:

It is not just about getting a new idea. It is also about putting the new idea into use in society, in agriculture, in developing better energy systems, developing better transport systems, developing better health, bringing it into better medical service, etc.”

Yanuar Nugroho, special advisor at the office of the Indonesian President, specifies that this is exactly the challenge for innovation in Indonesia. “While on the one hand we understand how important it is, we still have plenty to do in terms of how to realise it. We need to have a grand strategy and a long term vision, and programmatic action on how to translate this vision in to programmes.”

 

Getting inspiration from each other, rather than telling each other what to do

Lundvall stresses that it is not about the West telling developing countries what to do. “The assumption is that these countries know best the context in which to make new ideas work in practice. The Globelics research network comprises researchers from all over the world and the majority of its scientific board is constituted by scholars from Asia, Africa and Latin America. In fact

Facts about the conference

  • Held 12-14 October 2016 in Bandung, Indonesia.
  • Theme: “Innovation, Creativity and Development: Strategies for Inclusiveness and Sustainability”.
  • More than 250 participants from around the world, among them many developing nations.
  • The program consists of presentations and panel discussions about how innovation may contribute to economic development.
  • Three key-note speakers:
    • Mohamad Nasir, Indonesian Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education.
    • Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Malaysian leading Economist, who serves and has served as expert to several high level international fora, including UN organisations.
    • Helena Lastres, who has wide experience from public policy from the Brazilian Ministry Science, Technology and Innovation and from the Brazilian Development Bank.
  • Sponsored by Swedish development organization Sida, Aalborg University, IDRC, University Padjadajaran in Bandung among others.

the location of this year’s conference in Bandung symbolizes the fundamental aims of the Globelics network.” – By this Lundvall refers to the first large scale Asian African Conference, which took place in Bandung in 1955, often referred to as “the Bandung Conference”. In a common declaration 29 Asian and African states, most of which were newly independent, jointly stated aims of promoting Afro-Asian economic and cultural cooperation.

Nugroho praises the idea of getting inspiration from each other, rather than telling each other what to do, which he points out as one of the especially useful outputs from the meeting between Globelics and the Indonesia Government: “This session was a platform for exchange and I would like to see more of this in the future. It is important to learn from each other and to build a platform on which actions can be designed and implemented.” Nugroho continues:

This is where the Globelics conference plays its role. It is not only about having discussions on the state of the art of innovation, but more important, for me, to provide space for people to interact – for scholars to interact with policy makers, for students, for academia for media, etc.

The informal sector in Indonesian needs attention

One thing that came up in the meeting was the role of the informal sector, which is a challenge for the innovation system in the Indonesian context. Nugroho clarifies that, “at the moment the informal sector in Indonesia contributes quiet significantly in terms of GDP, from tourism industry, from credit economy etc. Managing this sector, as a government, is not always easy. The challenge is that, because they are informal, they are often more innovative compared to the formal sector. And that is good. I see this as an important issue in the future because the informal sector in the innovation system is among the least researched topics. I would recommend Globelics to explore more on that.”

 

Shifting locations of Globelics conferences reflects focus on self-development

The focus on self-development in applying knowledge and innovation for development is also reflected in the location of the annual Globelics conferences that shifts every year. Normally it circulates between Asia, Africa and Latin America, with the exception of conferences held in Russia and Turkey. The 2016 conference in Bandung was the 14th. The 2017 conference will take place in Athens, Greece while the 2018 conference will take place in Accra, Ghana.

Photo: A panel session on Innovation Systems and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, during the 14th Globelics Conference in Bandung, Indonesia. Second from left is Yanuar Nugroho, Special Advisor at the office of the Indonesian President.

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