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ESTIME : un projet européen

Projet de recherche soumis et accepté à Bruxelles

dimanche 1er février 2004, par rigas

Evaluation of Science, Technology and Innovation capabilities in the MEditerranean Countries ESTIME

NOTE : This project was finished in August 2008. See results on its website

ESTIME website : http://www.estime.ird.fr

Strategic Objectives :

The objective of the ESTIME project is to propose a set of strategic policy instruments that can be built in order to establish a dynamic view of the research and innovation systems in Mediterranean Countries. This set of instruments should be understood as an aid for the better description of the research, technological development and innovation (RDI) institutions and RDI system as a whole. It will be developed in a close partnership with a European team and local partners.

The first specific objective will be to identify the institutional capabilities in research, technological development and innovation (RDI) in the Mediterranean Countries that are partners of the European Union through the Euro-Mediterranean partnership in the fields of research and innovation. The project will focus on a set of eight countries : Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine. Additionally, Israel, Turkey, Cyprus, and Malta will be partly covered by the proposal.

In doing so, the team will develop a set of consistent and robust indicators that permit to track the scientific and technological effort of those countries, at a global level but also at a more detailed level (institutions, disciplines, geographical areas).

Thirdly, it will contribute to the understanding of the ways institutions operate in those Mediterranean Partner (MP) countries. The best practices and policies that appear to promote active scientific communities and more active research centres will be described. The analysis will look at the relationship between the local socio-economic conditions and the scientific activity. It will identify the networking activities of the scientific and engineering community at the national and international level. It will also detect the innovation activities linked to R&D. In brief, it wishes to show how the emerging knowledge economy is taking place in MP countries and the possibility of creating an active innovation system.

Finally, and more importantly, the project wishes to identify teams in MP countries that could and would be willing to establish a network of units that could become observatories of S&T activities on a more permanent basis in the future.

As a whole, the project will contribute to the promotion of cooperation between the Mediterranean and the European countries, by identifying the more active sites of research, the conditions for their development, the more pressing needs and, above all, by establishing a common language for the strategic estimation and evaluation of S&T capabilities among partners. Such objectives have already been considered as important by IRD which will support the project by funding the salaries of its researchers.

Proposal abstract

The objective of the ESTIME project is to propose a set of strategic policy instruments that can be built in order to establish a dynamic view of the research and innovation systems in Mediterranean Countries. This set of instruments should be understood as an aid for the better description of the research, technological development and innovation (RDI) institutions and RDI system as a whole. It will be developed in a close partnership between a European team and local partners. The project wants to identify the institutional capabilities in RDI in the Mediterranean Countries that are partners of the European Union. The project will focus on a set of eight countries : Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine. Additionally, Israel, Turkey, Cyprus, and Malta will be partly covered by the proposal. Consistent and robust S&T indicators will be built at a global level but also at a more detailed level (institutions, disciplines, geographical areas). Moreover, ESTIME project will look at the institutional setting in some detail. The best practices and policies that promote active scientific communities and more active research centres will be described. The analysis will look at the relationship between the local socio-economic conditions and the scientific activity. It will identify the networking activities of the scientific and engineering community at the national and international level. It will also detect the innovation activities linked to R&D and thus describe the emerging knowledge economy that is taking place in MP countries and the possibility of creating an active innovation system. Finally, the project wishes to identify teams in MP countries that could and would be willing to establish a network of units that could become observatories of S&T activities on a more permanent basis in the future.

Relevance to the objectives of the INCO specific measures

The ESTIME project builds upon the recent conclusions and recommendations of the 9th Monitoring Committee Meeting (MoCo) on Euro-Mediterranean partnerships in the fields of research and innovation. It aims at a better understanding of the science and technology activities by giving specific tools that permit a dynamic evaluation of institutional capabilities. It should also facilitate the debate on specific measures aimed at bilateral and multilateral levels cooperation.

A project based on extensive previous experience...

The proposal is based on the extensive scientometric expertise of the “Observatoire des sciences et des Techniques” (OST) and previous work in science studies and policy analysis done by the Science, Technology and Development (STD) team of IRD in the evaluation of scientific and technological capabilities (“Science in Africa”, evaluation of the Morocco S&T activities, evaluation of the European Community programs STD-2 and INCO). In addition, the STD team is engaged in an evaluation of the activities in social sciences in Arab countries (Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco). Social sciences will be included in this project as part of the effort to understand the social dynamic of the country.

... that wishes to highlight the importance of RDI in the Mediterranean world

As an effort to increase the visibility of the RDI activities of the Mediterranean Partner (MP) countries of the EU, it is necessary to have an overall and precise picture of these activities. The evaluation of the institutional capabilities permit to have a clearer view of the knowledge flows from research institutions towards other researchers or the economic system. National as well as international networking between the MP countries and the rest of the world is essential in order to understand the formation of the scientific community, the motivations and incentives for research, and the integration of the R&D and productive activities. It also aims at identifying needs or opportunities that are not exploited.

The design of a sound methodology ...

The methodology will be based on extensive and detailed bibliometric work, and on in-depth interviewing of scientists, policy-makers and experts in specific areas. It will use the same intellectual tools that were elaborated in previous work : robust bibliometric and other indicators, analytical descriptions of the social and historical making of scientific communities in each country, and synthetic analysis of the innovation system.

As such the MP countries do not form a comprehensive regional innovation system ; nonetheless either because of their size, their importance in terms of STI activities or the importance of their geo-strategical position these countries would gain from promoting convergent cooperations in specific areas which also interest the European Union.

The project will :

- Define a set of robust indicators (a sort of S&T dashboard, or “tableau de bord de la S&T” as it is called in French) that can serve as a basis of analysis of the RDI in the various MP countries
- Engage in active contacts with national authorities in charge of research, technological development and innovation (ministries of research, of higher education or economic dependencies of the governments)
- Select local partner teams that will be in charge of a substantial part of the analysis in collaboration with the core team of the project (historical and socio-economic description of the RDI system, interviewing of scientists and engineers, analysis of indicators, writing of strategic reports, organisation of meetings)

... not limited to the production of tables and figures.

The analysis itself is not reduced to the production of tables of relevant figures but includes :
- The description of the policy framework of each country, and will compare the various plans of action identified in the countries in terms of types of institutional settings, human resources, and diffusion of innovation. Also the participation of various ministerial authorities (education, research, industry, agriculture, health, culture) to the design of policies will be established. The existence of specific measures promoting research and innovation will be highlighted.
- The presentation of the dynamic of the RDI system in each country. An effort will be made to highlight best practices in terms of institutional operation, tendencies in the funding sources and uses, characterisation of the actors involved in the RDI activities, knowledge flows between the national RDI systems and the world, and a description, based upon specific examples, of the strategic tendencies.

A necessary strategic view of the changing RDI structure

In effect, the ESTIME project is not limited in organizing a set of easy accessible data. It wants to give some elements to the larger debate on the emergence of a knowledge economy and the changing nature of the innovation system. These debates are based on three assumptions :

  1. The nature of the scientific and technological work has been changing : research in areas that are relevant both to technology and science is now more common, knowledge has become more instrumental in the economic world, and private funding has become more important ; public and private funding are now sharing the scene. Innovation is becoming a central aspect of policies aimed at promoting S&T activities.
  2. Globalisation has put a strong stress on specific countries, in some cases widening the gap between the better endowed countries and those lacking the basic infrastructure in science, technology, and information technologies ; but it has also opened opportunities to local entrepreneurship. The arena is now global, but the players are locals.
  3. Collaborative work is now necessary, more than ever. Technologies, and specifically so information technologies, are opening opportunities for enlarged collaborations. Technological development is also more often than not based upon collaborative work, technological associations, wider university-productive partnerships, stronger links between basic research and uses of the technologies. Socio-economic and technical networks are now the new players.

These changes go hand in hand with more demanding public pressure, higher attention to environmental matters, and the need for efficient productive technologies. All these aspects converge towards new demands on science and technology policy making. Innovation policies have come at the forefront in this process and the evaluation of the RDI potential of a country has to take into account this new orientation. But innovation policies are also closely linked to industrial and economic policy, whereas traditional S&T policy-making has been oriented towards research capabilities and educational policies. A policy learning process has thus to take place in order to have a genuine innovation policy.

The European Union has had a great deal of experience in promoting the innovation measures. It has also funded a good deal of work on the types of instruments, measures and economic dynamics that take place in this new environment. Our project aims at re-using the results of this experience and see where and how it could apply in MP countries.

On the other hand, the Mediterranean countries have had to face specific political and social demands on their own. They have built in some cases quite strong RDI systems and in other cases they have had less favorable sets of institutional initiatives. The institutional capability of the RDI system is not the same everywhere ; it needs a fine tuning that is becoming more difficult because the actors of the systems do not only respond to incentives from within their own country but also because they respond to strong opportunities that appear at the global level. The project wants to shed light on these aspects, that we will call here strategic tendencies, which have necessarily to be taken into account by policy-makers, funding institutions and scientists and engineers.

Potential Impact

MP Countries implied in the ESTIME project

The ESTIME project is mainly concerned with the following countries : Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine. For these countries the whole set of analysis that is described in the workplan will take place. We call these countries the “principal set of countries”. Additionally, Israel, Turkey, Cyprus, and Malta will be partly covered by the proposal. Representatives of these countries will be invited to the meetings, they will be the object of a simplified form containing the basic bibliometric indicators, and they will be asked to participate -at their own willingness- to the debates engaged between all participants. Thus the potential impact will necessarily be lower in these last countries, which we call here the “additional set of countries”.

A wealth of deliverable products

In terms of products, the project will have four different types of products that correspond to different actors of the science and technology world.

  1. Scientometric indicators. These will go along with a re-evaluation of the bibliographic databases. In the case of the additional set of countries, these indicators will be limited to bibliometric indicators. Materially this will translate in the circulation of Leaflets containing the main indicators (for all countries including the additional set).
  2. A fine description of the science and technology institutional setting in each MP country. Publication of Country reports (only for the principal set of countries).
  3. A closer look at best practices in terms of scientific research, collaborative work, innovation development, scientific community building.
  4. An in-depth discussion on the strategic aspects of the RDI system in each country and at a regional level. Publication of Strategic reports. These documents will be later included, after discussion, in the final report. The strategic reports focus on one specific topic, taking examples from the field-work of the core-team and of the local partner teams. Strategic Reports will be presented in the final workshop and should be discussed within MoCo liaison Committee and the Commission and with local authorities.

Expected impact on policy-makers

Policy-makers -in Europe but also in the MP countries- will be the principal beneficiaries of the results. It is thus necessary to involve them in the debates on the construction of the indicators as well as in the use of the “RDI dashboard”. The project will use the following instruments for the implication of policy-makers :

- Active contacts between the core-team of the ESTIME project with policy-makers in order to present and discuss on the modalities of the data-collection, information gathering and use of data ;
- A first Institutional Capabilities Meeting will be held with local authorities from all MP countries in the project as well as representatives of the European Commission, the MoCo, the local partner teams and the core-team of the project. This meeting will be crucial in that it will permit to engage safely on the interviewing process in each country.
- ESTIME will ask the MoCo to appoint a group of persons acting as a scientific liaison committee between the project teams (core team and local teams) and the European Commission. This liaison group could participate in the discussion at the regional meetings or in ad-hoc meetings all along the process of investigation in Paris or elsewhere.
- A final meeting, presenting all the results of the project, again in the presence of authorities and the investigation teams will be organized.

Expected impact on the science studies community

But the project will also be the occasion for the implication of science studies scholars and social sciences academics that will be participating in the project as members of the local teams. The implication of the local partner teams is essential to the project because they will be the carriers of the need to highlight science and technology as a tool for development. They will be the ones that permit to understand the exact social role of R&D in the institutional setting of each country.

We believe the impact can be oriented in two different directions :

  1. The project needs to make extensive use of bibliometric indicators. It needs to experiment in the use of these indicators at a finer level with alternative databases. All these activities which can be qualified scientometric research, need to be done in conjunction with the local partner teams. Even the more basic bibliometric tools need some validation at the local level. We hope the local partner team will actively engage in this work and thus become the more probable candidates for the future construction of local observatories of the RDI system.
  2. ESTIME will look at how the strategic debates that pervade the research world today, translate in the MP countries. Issues such as the impact of globalisation, the protection of intellectual property rights, the changing pattern of distribution between the private and the public in research and technological collaborations, the creation of technological development network, the impact of innovation on the science policy making process, go far beyond a simple description of the institutional setting and the policy-making apparatus. Social sciences can be of help here (sociology, economics or political sciences) and we hope that social scientists will participate to the debates in the various forae we will have to organize. By this way science studies can be more actively promoted.

Expected impact on the scientific and engineering community

Finally, but not less important, scientists and engineers of each MP country should benefit from the ESTIME project because it will allow for a strategic positioning of their activities inside the wider view of RDI, nationally and internationally. Research organizations could also benefit from the on-going discussion of priorities, means and resources.

We may highlight that the project can benefit the whole RDI system because it will show the strategic nature of science and technology based upon specific examples. It will also permit to diffuse the best practices that will be observed in the field-work of the project. As described in the workplan, we propose to focus on some “star” teams, identified through the bibliometric tools, which should be interviewed.

Finally, the project should allow for a higher interaction of scientists and policy-makers, and of local scientific teams with European partners.

Diffusion of results

The results will be diffused in the following ways :

  1. Through the discussion in meetings with the participants and with the stakeholders (authorities, scientists and engineers, business leaders) : 1) Institutional Capabilities Meeting, 2) Regional Methodological Meeting, 3) Final Meeting ;
  2. Through the circulation of the Country reports (see above). One Country Report for each country of the principal set of eight countries. Simplified leaflets for the additional set of countries.
  3. Through the usual publication of Reports and academic publications
  4. Through the creation of an interactive website. The website will be constructed specifically by ESTIME and will be updated by the local partner teams when needed. It will contain, in its main pages, a wide selection of data issued for the project. Methodological notes will also appear in the web site, as well as some of the reports -whenever publication is approved by the others and the authorities.

Expected Impact on European Cooperation and International Scientific Policy

The project aims at providing the European Commission adequate tools, and sources of information and analysis of the local RDI system in MP countries that can be trusted. Information should be renewable and the ESTIME project will spend some time in setting-up the future uses of the data.

For more information contact : rigas@option-service.fr

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