ERF-FEMISE Expert Group Meeting on:
“Innovation: Towards a Research Agenda to Unlock South Med Potentials”
January 18th 2016
Innovation and innovation policies have crawled up to be on top of the policy makers’ development agendas as it has been identified as a key factor in promoting economic growth and sustainable development. This is confirmed by the different historic and more recent long-term and sustainable growth theories.
Innovation is able to provide new potentials for stagnant developing and developed economies. For the former, it could offer the way out of recessions and economic-downturns but also new paths to meet international competition (especially from China); and for the latter, it could offer a new horizon for these economies as they struggle to achieve their growth potentials.
And indeed, the past few years have witnessed an unprecedented surge in innovation capacities coupled with a 31% increase in expenditure on R&D between 2007 and 2013, despite worldwide economic crisis and instabilities in the EU-Med region, thanks to the contributions from the private sector (UNESCO, 2015). Innovation is by no means limited to advanced industrial economies, as research on global innovation showed new ways that emerging-economy policies can boost innovation and spur growth by building on local strengths and ensuring the development of a sound national innovation environment (GII, 2015).
The objective of this joint ERF and FEMISE expert group meeting is to better understand the multiple facets of innovation, identify the factors that promote it and highlight the potentials and challenges of the South Med countries. The meeting will gather a multidisciplinary group of experts from the academic, civil society and policy-makers communities with the ultimate objective of drawing a research agenda to unlock the South Med potentials, by addressing the following specific issues:
The First Session will contribute to the understanding of ‘innovation’ and the types of innovation that could impact productivity. A new release by the EU defined it as “the creation of new or significantly improved: products, processes, marketing and organisation that add value to markets, governments and society”. At the same time, it is important to define the types of innovations that can have an impact on productivity, exports and hence development and to find evidence of relation between education, productivity and innovation.
The Second session identifies the drivers of innovations and how to turn the creative ideas into commercial applications or smart processes that could impact productivity. This session will address the innovation ecosystem and the relation between its components by addressing the roles of: (1) knowledge based economy in terms of education and skills outputs; (2) the private sector and SMEs in contributing to the innovation strategy; and (3) the role of the public sector in providing support and shape the policies that could promote innovation.
In the third session, experts will focus on the status of the innovation and innovation policies in the South Med Countries by highlighting the progress that has been achieved so far while identifying the actors that contributed to this progress and the challenges that blocks this progress from going further. The progress achieved so far in this region is far from reaching the potentials. Innovation policies are considered isolated and heavily relying on public sector (whose expenditure on R&D remain some of the lowest worldwide) and without much strategic planning or involvement from the private sector. SMEs are still challenged for access to finance and complicated government legislations, which could be an impediment to their innovation capacities. Moreover, education systems and skills’ programs are suffering from inefficiencies and are not directed towards innovation and entrepreneurial knowledge, which is reflected in the low share of innovation and high-tech productions and their share of the countries’ exports.
In the final Session 4, the experts will establish a research agenda towards a comprehensive innovation ecosystem in the South Med region. Issues related to the right measurement tools of innovation, how to provide support, what drivers and what policies that could promote innovations will be addressed. The experts will also address the potential role of the EU-Med partnership in particularly how south Med partners can benefit from the innovation strategy that the EU is currently implementing (the “Innovation Union”) for its 2020 strategy and which aims to create smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
It is clear that promoting innovation requires providing a strategic planning that fully endorse the growth of innovative young firms and the establishment of strong and efficient institutions, which go hand in hand with promoting education and skills for the young generations. This could be done with support from the EU-Med partnership.
Agenda of the Event should be available soon.
For more information, please contact: Maryse Louis: firstname.lastname@example.org
 Solow, 1956 referred to it as the technological change or “Solow residual”, which was broadened to include human capital (Barro, 1991; Romer, 1986) and institutions (Baumol, 1990,1993).
 Some developing countries surpassed the performance of developed ones these countries have a level of innovation that is 10% better than their peers (for the same GDP) and are called ‘innovation achievers’, GII, 2015
 e.g. establishing innovation centres and observatories; introducing innovative approaches in selected industrial sectors, specially in high tech, energy and sustainable sectors; raising awareness on importance of innovation among entrepreneurs, etc),
 According to the UNESCO, 2015 figures, Morocco represents the highest share of 0.73% followed by Egypt and Tunisia both at 0.68%. which are below the average of an emerging economy.
 The highest shares of Science and technology students are in Tunisia and Morocco (44.7% and 36.3%) and this is reflected in the two countries’ relative high technology production and consequently highest shares of high technology exports (4.9% and 7.7% respectively of total exports). Egypt has the highest share of scientific publications and number of patents per year, but its high-tech exports is considered low. UNESCO, 2015.