Infrastructure for Enterprise Hubs
Discussions focused on the incentives and enabling environment for effective enterprise hubs to take root, especially infrastructure conducive to linkages between research and tertiary institutions and firms setting up production and service facilities. In order to establish, which of these ingredients are common to most successful innovation hubs this session drew from comparative experiences and review the main characteristics of the varying models e.g. Cambridge, the research triangle in North Carolina, the Silicon Valley, or Frauenhoffer Institute in Dresden, Germany. This panel was hosted at the Cambridge Science Park.
Solutions to the Skill Gap: Refocusing Education and Training
This session focused on the question of how to better align education programs with evolving labor-market skill needs. Most European education institutions in the past used to focus on the creation of knowledge and the imparting of specific knowledge and skills. While it has proven difficult to predict which specific skills will be in greatest demand as countries’ economies evolve, there is better information about which generic skills are most likely to be needed. Adopting a broader view of education outcomes to give greater attention to these generic skills can lead to greater flexibility in the range of activities in which graduates can apply their skills productively. The session discussed what skills employers value most highly from graduates, and what kinds of changes are required in education and training programs in order to provide those skills more effectively. The session provided illustrations of how the countries and institutions that score highly on OECD’s innovation index have restructured their education and training programs in order to promote innovation, increased productivity of individuals, and increased competitiveness of economic systems.
Standards and Quality Certification: Technology Upgrading & Trading Tools
This session discussed the opportunities for technological coordination via the implementation and enforcement of standards, and whether standards and quality certification can be used as a tool to promote diffusion and upgrading in industries. The legacy of industrial overregulation via national technology standards is a problem in some ECA countries. At the same time, standards and certification have proved helpful in promoting innovation and technological change in developed economies, and have been shown to have a positive impact on growth. The recognition of this tension, or need for a balance, suggest that a key policy question is how to manage a transition towards a “standard-light” environment in which voluntary certification plays a more important role. Although standards need to be more accommodating to industry needs, the State should not abdicate from using standards to uphold environmental and health safeguards, ensure interoperability (e.g., in ICT) and a minimum quality of goods and services. Issues that need to be considered are whether to adopt standards from other countries and, if so, which ones, and how to develop open and responsive frameworks for standard-setting. Discussions will focus on EU requirements in the areas of metrology, quality certification and technical standards, on the steps needed to establish National Quality Systems in ECA countries and on incentives and tools to promote the use of quality standards among local firms, especially SMEs. The discussion will be closely linked with technology upgrading and its importance for ECA countries to enter global supply chains and develop their export competitiveness.
Logistics and Integration into Global Supply Networks
Enterprises in ECA countries face stiff competition from both their EU neighbors as well as global competitors, especially China and India. This panel will highlight the importance of essential transport and logistics infrastructure services that firms rely on to transfer their goods (via roads, carriage, ports, airports and border crossing facilities) into the global supply chain in a timely and cost efficient manner. Bottlenecks at each step of the logistics system generate delays and losses for firms and reduce the private sector’s export and trade competitiveness. This session focused on the reduction of barriers (through harmonization of technical standards, customs, documentation and procedures to reduce transaction costs, cross border waiting, improve timely delivery of goods). Discussions focused on specific logistical bottlenecks that the ECA countries face at the regional level, and provide suggestions for reducing them and strengthening local supply chain networks. This session focused on case studies from new EU entrant Bulgaria to see how these countries optimized logistics to enhance their trade competitiveness.
Developing Networks and a Market for Knowledge Brokerage
The nature of knowledge does not easily lead to the endogenous development of a market for knowledge-based goods and services. Knowledge can be thought of as a global public good, which means it is difficult to exclude others from its use, and that use does deplete the knowledge base. These characteristics induce market failures, leading to underinvestment in the production and distribution of knowledge and technology. Governments can improve the allocation of private investments in knowledge and its transmission throughout the economy. One approach is to promote the development of knowledge networks (a non-market based solution) where exchanges take place through informal contacts, seminars, trade fairs, consortia, etc. A complementary approach is to foster a market for knowledge brokerage populated by a diverse group of public and private organizations that include technology transfer offices, business incubators, science parks, consulting companies, etc. The two approaches can serve to ameliorate coordination and investment problems and thereby improve competitiveness via increased technology investments.
Pirated Goods, National IPR Regimes, and Competition Policy Concerns
Contraband and counterfeit goods are increasing their shares in industries where intellectual property rights (IPR) would otherwise justify exclusive sales by one or a small number of producers. Such industries include software, films and music, and pharmaceuticals. This is a phenomenon that owes much to deficiencies in IPR regimes and to weak enforcement of the laws regulating intellectual assets. At the same time, the surge in entry of pirated goods reflects the fact that goods protected by IPR tend to sell at prices well above marginal and even average costs of production, which points to potential abuse of a monopolistic position. Therefore, there are important policy questions about the balance between enforcing IPR and addressing competition concerns. A closer coordination of patent policy and competition policy is required to curb the informal and illegal economic activities surrounding pirated goods, yet also preventing anticompetitive conduct. Also, now that new methods of producing and distributing goods (e.g., open source, generics) are becoming a viable alternative in the mentioned industries, governments have to decide whether to favor or resist the adoption of these goods – for example, in procurement and when setting technology standards.