The IDB has played a historically strategic role in this mission, financing this sector with more than US$2 billion. This figure would be doubled if the investments in higher education and agricultural research were also included. Nevertheless, despite the efforts from the region to innovate, there is a growing gap between the technologically advanced countries and Latin America and the Caribbean. China, for example, invests almost ten times as much in research and development than all of the countries in the region combined.
During a preparatory meeting for the Network, which was held in Washington, DC in December, the Vice President of the IDB, Ciro de Falco, emphasized the powerful effect of technological innovation in productivity and growth, as well as its important effect on quality of life. “Therefore, technological innovation warrants our attention as a growth tool for the future and as a strategy that, in the past, has borne significant fruit to the countries that have invested in it,” Falco noted.
In the meeting, Vice Ministers and technology experts from Latin America and the Caribbean expressed interest in sharing their experiences with: Innovation promotion policies, incentives to the private sector, strengthening public research institutions within the framework of national innovation systems, initiatives on regional cooperation, and successful experiences in this field both within and outside the region.
The first meeting of the Science, Technology, and Innovation Network will cover two main topics: Supporting innovation in the private sector and the regulatory framework in public research institutions, as well as their link to universities and the private sector. The Network is part of the Regional Policy Dialogue, which was created in 1999 as an initiative of the IDB's Board of Directors.
The Technical Coordinator of the Science, Technology, and Innovation Network is Daniel Malkin, the Deputy Manager of the Education, Science, and Technology Sub-department of the IDB’s Sustainable Development Department; the President of the Network, starting next year, will be Tulio del Bono, the Argentine Secretary of Science, Technology, and Productive Innovation; and the Vice Presidents will be Jeanne Dixon, the Jamaican Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Industry, Technology, and Commerce, and Esteban Arias Monge, the Costa Rican Vice Minister of Science and Technology.