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News
10 January 2011

Science means business

"We have reached a stage in global development when even the poorest countries can readily derive material benefits from investments in science and technology," says Heneri A.M. Dzinotyiweyi (TWAS Fellow 1988), Minister of Science and Technology in Zimbabwe.

Science means business"All countries," he adds, "should take aggressive measures to commercialize the knowledge that is being created by their scientists." Dzinotyiweyi made his remarks in the most recent edition of the TWAS Newsletter.

Rapid economic development in Brazil, China, India and other developing countries have confirmed that science and technology (S&T) play a vital role in advancing economic and social well-being, says Dzinotyiweyi. Yet, he acknowledges that promoting such policies in poor countries remains difficult. The issue, he observes, has been this: "How can governments in poor countries invest in S&T when the spectre of hunger and poverty looms so large in the daily lives of their people?"

Governments in developing countries appreciate the long-term benefits of science and technology, but officials are concerned that S&T does little to address more immediate problems. "It's not that countries have turned their backs on science and technology," Dzinotyiweyi explains. "It's just that their leaders strongly believe that they must face other, more critical challenges."

This perception, however, is changing as the short-term benefits of S&T on economic development have become more visible, and as an increasing number of countries have successfully placed S&T at the centre of their economic development strategies.

hand pipette labDzinotyiweyi goes on to say that the best way to take advantage of the growing interest in S&T as critical tools for economic growth "is through the commercialization of scientific findings so that knowledge is turned into goods and services that benefit society." He urges all countries, no matter how poor, to adopt policies that will allow them to quantify the impact that applications of S&T have on their gross domestic product. In addition, he says that "at least 20% of the growth in GDP attributed to science and technology should be reinvested to advance science and technology further."

The promise of S&T, Dzinotyiweyi asserts, has never been brighter. "The key to grasping the opportunities afforded by these developments lies in efforts to successfully commercialize scientific knowledge."

As a result, Dzinotyiweyi urges that the definition of scientific capacity building be expanded to include not just knowledge acquisition, but notions of innovation, entrepreneurship and marketing.

"The good news," he says, "is that there are now a sufficient number of developing countries that have done just that."

Find the full TWAS Newsletter article below.

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