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OECD Science, Technology and Innovation Outlook

From climate change to population ageing to far-reaching geopolitical adjustments, the world is facing unprecedented changes marked by uncertainties and unknowns. These are exacerbated by disruptive shocks, such as the current Covid-19 pandemic crisis. The fast pace of technological change, including developments in artificial intelligence and synthetic biology, adds to these uncertainties and makes policy oversight of emerging technologies increasingly difficult.

These developments present opportunities and challenges for science and innovation (S&I) policy. In a time of rapid change and high uncertainty, responsible policy-making requires identifying and preparing for new and unexpected developments. Accordingly, the OECD Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Outlook aims to provide a platform for thinking about near-term future developments on a range of S&I policy topics. It reports on the latest trends and issues relevant to S&I policy. It also serves to showcase the S&I policy work of the OECD’s Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy and its working parties, and to explore new topics that might be covered in future projects.

The STI Outlook 2020 has six broad themes: S&I policies in a time of crisis; Technology governance; Sustainability transitions and missions; Human resources for science and innovation; Financing of R&D and innovation; and Digitalisation of science and innovation. The topics covered include: S&I policy responses to the Covid-19 crisis, the precarity of research careers, digital innovation and inclusiveness, funding for high risk / high reward research, and the ethics and global governance of emerging technologies, to name just a few.

Leading themes for policymaking in 2020

COVID-19

Science and innovation to combat the COVID-19 crisis

While the COVID-19 crisis threatens the resilience of innovation systems, it also calls on them to provide new solutions to the immediate health, societal and economic challenges posed by the pandemic. In the longer term, investments in R&D and innovation will be essential to promote economic recovery and sustainable growth.

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COVID-19

Science advice in times of COVID-19

Scientific evidence related to COVID-19 is conditional and dynamic. How can scientists and policy-makers most effectively work in a situation where much of the evidence is uncertain and rapidly evolving?

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Digital innovation

Digital innovation and inclusive growth

Digital technologies are transforming our economies, but are also raising new inclusiveness challenges. How can governments ensure that digitalisation benefits all? In addition, what roles could innovation policies play?

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Research precariat

The precarity of research careers

Academic structures that mainly link training and careers to ‘research excellence’ - as measured by publication outputs - are not fully adequate to meet the future needs of science and of society as a whole. This poses several important questions for STI policy.

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Governance

Technology governance

OECD countries perceive the need to not only innovate more, but well, and to make the innovation process more goal-oriented, inclusive and anticipatory. Engaging governance within the innovation process has the potential to embed public good considerations into technologies.

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Ocean economy

Ocean economy and innovation

Managing a wide diversity of maritime economic activities and exploiting marine resources requires judiciously improving ocean-related knowledge and taking precautions to preserve fragile marine ecosystems.

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An important source of the STI Outlook’s value added is its forward-looking analysis and its potential to synthesise various strands of work and opinion. The STI Outlook 2020 leverages various types of content developed across multiple lines of activity, including thematic OECD project work, OECD statistics, and country policy data in the EC-OECD STIP Compass. This content is being ‘stretched’ through forward-looking analysis and opinion that offers additional perspectives and insights. The time horizon is generally in the 10 years range, though can be longer or shorter, depending on the issues being analysed.

The STI Outlook 2020 has a dual format. First, this website provides a structured repository of various types of content, including thematic and country analysis, statistics, qualitative policy data analysis, and opinion pieces. The OECD will update this material throughout the year as new content becomes available. Then in November 2020, the OECD will publish an e-book containing the STI Outlook’s main findings and messages.

You can contact the OECD’s STI Outlook team if you would like to find out more.

Dive into STI qualitative and quantitative data

DATA

STIP Compass

STIP Compass is a joint initiative of the European Commission and the OECD that aims to collect together in one place quantitative and qualitative data on national trends in STI policy.

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DATA

MSTI database

The Main Science and Technology Indicators (MSTI) database provides a set of indicators that reflect the level and structure of efforts in the field of science and technology undertaken from 1981 onwards by OECD Member countries and seven non-member economies: Argentina, China, Romania, Russian Federation, Singapore, South Africa, Chinese Taipei.

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