Building a Research Agenda, 2012
IRGC Portugal targets research on the governance of emerging and systemic risks that are relevant to the Portuguese and European frameworks, as well as to Portuguese speaking countries, and provide advanced training in this field. It will ultimately work as a research and learning platform, engaging policy makers, researchers, companies and civil society organizations, towards the assessment, appraisal, evaluation, management and communication of systemic risks and knowledge-based policies.
The research areas launched IRGC Portugal during 2012 built on competencies of different partners, together with integrating a few novel approaches regarding risk governance in association with major socio-economic vulnerabilities influencing processes of technical change. Main focused research areas include:
Additional information on the agendas for the main research areas and themes is presented below and more detailed information on these areas and the remaining ones can be found at the IRGC Portugal's website, www.irgc-portugal.org.
Emerging forms of technological innovation, with emphasis on regulatory frameworks at the convergence of life sciences, physical sciences and engineering
IRGC Portugal facilitated a research team that gave priority to discuss the modifications introduced by cell therapies in clinical assessment and their impact at structure cost and decision-making. Furthermore, the results indicate that the modifications introduce by cell therapies may provide an opportunity for learning and improve product, manufacturing, or even clinical study design during clinical assessment. This new reality introduces a dramatic change in the current perception of clinical trials and related regulatory practices. It offers the opportunity for learning and improvement as clinical studies progress, rather than simply a binary answer at the end of each clinical phase.
Drug disasters such as sulfanilamide and thalidomide led, respectively, to the enactment by the U.S. congress of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in 1938 and to the Kefauver-Harris Drug Amendments in 1962. These disasters caused a significant number of deaths due to drug misuse for unapproved indications.
The 1938 Act gave the authority to the FDA to oversee the safety of food, drugs, and cosmetics. Later, in 1962, the Kefauver-Harris Drug Amendments mandated pre-market approval and assessment of safety and efficacy of all new drugs. It also granted increased authority to the FDA to access company production and establish good manufacturing practices. At the same time that the 1938 Act and 1962 Amendments enabled the development of safer and more efficient drugs to the patients, they indirectly increased the time and cost required to bring drugs to market.
The process of clinical assessment with three phases of clinical assessment, like we know it today, has its origin in the 1962 Amendments. In phase I, trials are design to assess the investigational drug safety. Phase II is designed to assess safety and initial proof of efficacy. Phase III is design to prove that an investigational drug is efficacious in a large population.
Systematization of clinical assessment in three distinct phases of clinical trials presents advantages for companies and investors at quantifying probabilities of success, average time spent, and financial resources required to advance a technology to the market.
For emergent therapies, however, comparability with previous products is limited. New technologies impose different needs in clinical assessment that lead to different results. Determining projected time and cost for development and return on investment are, therefore, difficult to estimate.
It is recognized by regulatory agencies that new therapies are being hold back by the current regulatory framework. The Committee for Advanced Therapies of the European Medicines Agency recognizes "...that the traditional regulatory framework for medicines does not currently fully address the needs of companies and organizations that develop these medicines [advanced-therapy medicinal products]".
Advanced-therapy medicinal products comprise gene therapy and regenerative medicine, including tissue engineering and somatic cell therapy. These advanced therapies offer potentially ground-breaking treatments for diseases and injuries to the human body.
The work, still in progress, provides novelty in pointing the differences between clinical development in cell therapies and traditional areas of biologics and drugs. However, investment and clinical decisions on how to advance cell therapies development are yet taken based on assumptions from drugs and biologics. Analysis of the research team shows that some of assumptions can be inadequate and misleading, as the structures of clinical assessment for drugs and cell therapies can be substantially different.
The analysis shows that clinical trials in cell therapies are divided in pivotal and extended studies, instead of the three phases of clinical trials established in traditional drugs and biologics. These new considerations, when structuring clinical trials in cell therapies, may lead to a decreased out-of-pocket cost during development. New considerations in adapting clinical trial development for cell therapies can encourage investment in the area of regenerative medicine and adequate investment to different aspects of the technology.
Besides industry, other stakeholders are likely to play a more active role in the development of cell therapies. Hospitals and research universities are examples of more active sponsors. Their involvement can be a result of technological early-stage of development and/or specific to this area as physicians and hospitals are playing a more active role in their development and providing feedback for technological improvement.
Adjusting clinical assessment to cell technology is opening a window of opportunities for bringing disruptive technologies into clinical trials and demand customization and ﬂexibility from clinical assessment in adjusting to new technological requirements.
Daniela S. Couto, Luis Perez-Breva, and Manuel Heitor, Are Cell Therapies Disrupting Traditional Clinical Assessment Practices?, Nature Drug Reviews Discovery, submitted for publication.
Daniela S. Couto, Luis Perez-Breva, and Manuel Heitor, Technological Adjacency for Emergent Therapies: A Knowledge Creating Market Strategy, Industrial and Corporate Change, submitted for publication.
Design for uncertainty in urban contexts: looking at risk perceptions of lay people from vulnerable communities
Urban development and the organic growth of cities and the activities they encompass impose strains over various dimensions of cities' life. Logistics, including people and cargo transportation; Food supply; Energy supply; waste management; and Social cohesion are just some of the areas in which risks affecting cities at a systemic level can arise.
Tackling these risks requires designing resilient cities, with emphasis on flexibility, sustainability, inclusiveness and integration of knowledge and technological infrastructures.
During 2012, the focus of IRGC Portugal was on launching a team for innovative "hands on" approach based on the design of new engineering-based products and processes to help shape perceptions and peoples' behavior.
Two areas of intervention were chosen in terms of risk mitigation, including energy consumption and non-communicable diseases (e.g., diabetes). While it is increasingly acknowledged that there is a need for intervention in these areas, there is considerable debate about the factors and policy mechanisms that can bring awareness of lay people towards these areas of risk. The research at this stage did not aim to cover all these factors but to identify gaps and future research needs. At this point, we focused on how engineering design and the usage of engineered-based products can support change of perceptions and behavior.
Setting the problem:
The main goal is to assess risk perceptions of lay people belonging to vulnerable communities and, in the process, to examine strategies of risk communication towards these groups. While early studies on risk perception were based on "unilateral" expert views (i.e., "methods of expert elicitation"), it has become more and more clear that the involvement of lay people in the process is critical for the governance of risk (i.e., to ensure their participation). But, and despite these new trends, vulnerable groups remain an outlier category of this type of analysis.
Only recently, these studies have started to address risk perceptions of vulnerable groups (e.g., exploring differences in terms of risk perception across genders, white/non white population). But, efforts in this direction remain rather limited. For example, it is quite surprising that the argument regarding the need to communicate risks regarding non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, to vulnerable groups constitutes by itself a topic for a recent publication in Science. However, the literature is scarce in providing recommendations how to communicate risks in such environments.
Building a theoretical background: a brief overview of sample theoretical approaches
Different approaches have been put forward to explore risk perceptions of lay people towards risk. We distinguish the biases approach from other perspectives centered on values and attitudes. While the former approach argues that, by uncovering people's biases in processes of decision making, we can raise their awareness and change behavior accordingly , other approaches argue that information per se does not help shaping behaviors. The biases approaches focuses on information based strategies of risk communication.
In these models it is considered that the debate has to be focused on the communication of uncertainty itself. In some ways, it is assumed that people are capable of handling uncertainty, provided they have the right information. Other perspectives consider this approach as limited. They argue that information is not good enough to shape people's behavior. For example, other approaches argue that to mitigate risk behavior towards non-communicable diseases, one has to consider people's values in life or to consider their attitude towards diabetes .
The biases approach explores, on one hand, the cognitive and emotional biases of lay people towards risk perception, and, on the other hand, their representation of risk (by contrast to expert's views). These studies have shown that people assessment of risk do not conform to Bayesian rules of probabilistic decision-making. Instead, people systematically deviate from these standard norms of rationality. Their reasoning is biased and they use heuristics or rules of thumb when taking decisions under risk. People's cognitive biases include overconfidence, anchoring and availability (availability refers to the fact that they ignore initial bases rate due to the information that is available in their memories).
Moreover, it has been shown that decisions are emotionally overloaded (people's attention tends to be focused on catastrophic events - people's attention to cancer is much higher than other diseases that kill more). On the knowledge representation side, it has been shown that representations of risk and experts differ. While experts examine risk perception using statistical evidence, lay people use other components such as, dread, exposure and controllability.
The values approach is currently used in medicine to mitigate people's behavior in diabetes. Rather than asking people their perceptions on long-term risks, this methodology focuses on current values of people. The theory of planned behavior argues that attitudes, perceived behavior control and social pressure are the dimensions to be considered when looking at the need to change behaviors. While these models are useful, it is certain correct to assume that information is still important, especially for lay people from vulnerable communities. More likely, this people lack basic knowledge on diseases.
We take, as a starting point, the bounded rational hypothesis, but we argue that it needs to be stretched alongside a new dimension. We need to consider the social fabric in which behaviors take place, namely communities (behavior is shaped by context interdependences). For example, analysis has shown that social cognition (e.g., people' s perceptions of risk) depends on their affiliation groups.
In other words, people with more conservative background think that risk does not need to be shared, while people from more equalitarian background think the opposite. The idea that people have cultural biases has also been shown to be correct (their perceptions towards risk depends on group identity and culture, an area called cultural cognition). We purpose this line of search and argue that we need to contextualize behavior into their communities.
Methodology and strategy
The research team facilitated through IRGC Portugal has developed two main experiments in old Lisbon. Emphasis was on problems faced by underserved communities, with a focus on design and experimentation. Multidisciplinary teams work on projects in collaboration with community partners, field practitioners, and experts in relevant fields, as follows:
With regard to the non-communicable diseases (e.g., diabetes), analysis has shown that a "smoothie bike" product was indeed a device that disrupted people's perception towards diabetes. It enabled people to talk about the problem of diabetes, generated considerable interaction between people, and produced considerable enthusiasm amongst lay people. Different communication channels were used to provide a trust context. The contexts included day centers for elderly, shopping malls, small restaurants, public spaces, among others.
We identified a limitation of this approach. We observed that the knowledge of lay people in relation diabetes was so low and full of confusions that associations between the bike and diabetes prevention behavior was rather limited. People had considerable misconceptions towards diabetes. For example, one misconception was to consider that one has a "little bit" of diabetes. Moreover, they did not understand the concept of chronic disease. They assume, that once their level of glycemia decreases, as a result of the medication, they stopped having the disease (the misconception here concerns the absence of the concept of "chronic disease" in their mental models); all sorts of projection and denial mechanism were taking place (even the people that were diagnosed with diabetes denied they had the disease).
In the field of energy, misconceptions were important but they seem to be more related with the capacity of relating the use of electric devices with a benefit-cost analysis. Somehow, people in this context seem more rational.
The workshop that took place in Lisbon on the 19th December 2012, "Urban Dialogue – Risk and Resilience: Diabetes, Energy and usability - changing habits and behaviors" aimed to explore a "public participatory laboratory" in terms of testing how a "hands on" innovation-based approaches may support the mitigation of risks in urban contexts.
From this 1st Dialogue resulted, among others, a new research project on "public perceptions and misconceptions" focusing on non-communicable diseases (e.g., diabetes), to be implemented with "Santa Casa da Misericórdia" (social service institution).
Governing deindustrialization risks
Rational: Deindustrialization as a risk
There is a raising - and justified - concern that deindustrialization is hampering growth and undermining the competitiveness of developed economies leading to loss of jobs.
Industrialization has been the main driver behind rapid productivity growth achievement and social well-being improvements in different countries in the last 200 years . Since the first globalization in the end of the 19th century, the industrial landscape has been continuously evolving, showing a clear shift towards emerging Asian and Latin American economies in the last decades. The Asian shift is not something new, since in 1750 more than 50% of the world's industrial trade was produced in China and India.
In many developed regions recent deindustrialization trends resulted from the emergence of new and fast-expanding markets; the surge of new pools of cost-efficient workforces, as well as emerging countries' aggressive development policies. In the last 20 years policies have been favoring the development of knowledge intensive services oriented towards short-term growth and the financial markets.
Parallel to this process of "technoglobalism", post-industrialism advocates have promoted in the last decades services as a new panacea for rapid economic growth in developed - and developing - countries, overtaking the role of manufacturing industries as drivers of growth.
This has resulted in "policy shifts" from manufacturing industries to knowledge-intensive services in developed regions worldwide, including the US but with the notable exception of countries like Germany. Illustrating this trend is the decline in the number of U.S. manufacturing jobs from nearly 20 million in 1979 to about 12 million 30 years later.
In fact evidence shows that an over-reliance on services, without an adequate balance with industrial activity, damages export performance, reduces labor productivities and favors inequality .
This is an issue for developed and industrialized countries, including the US that is losing ground to other economies or European peripheral countries increasingly focused in services; but also for developing countries such as Brazil where there are few world-class industrial "islands" disconnected from the rest of the country.
At the end of deindustrialization usually is social turmoil , triggering other systemic risks related to Social Unrest . These two risks have a reciprocal causal relation between them since deindustrialization leads to social unrest and the latter leads to deindustrialization as social instability hinders attracting and retaining industrial activities.
It is in this framework that several research centers and universities around the World are analyzing this issue, perhaps the most notable one being the "Production in the Innovation Economy" project at the MIT . Other work includes a significant body of research in Brazil on industrialization, namely through regulation and local content policies.
Main lines of action: Fostering industrialization strategies
In addition to the presence of strong industrial bases, most of the well performing economies share other common features. One is diversification of activities, meaning that the economic output and that of industrial manufacturing in particular is distributed across a broad set of activities, which allows for mitigating risks but also for enhancing the capacity of the innovation system and the growth potential of the economy as a whole. This diversity can be found in countries like Korea or Taiwan.
Other common feature is supply chain and knowledge networks' complexity, related to the interactions between people and organizations measured in terms of the activities and job positions needed to produce a certain good within an economy. Complexity has also been shown to be a predictor of economic development and prosperity.
Endogenous growth theories treat R&D investment and education as endogenous variables in the long run of economic expansion, placing strong emphasis on the role played by knowledge creation and commercialization in promoting economic growth.
However, making economies more diverse and specialized is extremely difficult and requires persistent learning processes and embedding skills and technology into people and organizations, as the competitiveness of industries resides increasingly in the capacity to access and use knowledge and technologies in distributed knowledge bases, spread through a wide network of institutions
Employment and its skills are therefore paramount to ensure the sustainable development of industries and the socioeconomic impact of industrialization and this is also true at firm-level, as shown by the analysis of the relationship between the production activity and the knowledge boundaries of a company - in other words, between supply chains and knowledge networks - that are specific to each industry. Innovation and ultimately competitiveness require knowledge boundaries to be much wider than the production ones, exploring historical perceptions of the utility of scientific knowledge, labor division and the shape and emergence of contemporary institutions of knowledge and innovation, as well as depicting and characterizing the tensions between knowledge and power.
Results also show that local access to knowledge and human capital significantly influence entry of knowledge-based firms into regions, confirming the need to look at (de)industrialization processes with a regional focus, without losing sight of the context and taking into account knowledge and innovation capabilities of countries and regions, thus calling the need for a new conceptual framework to address industrialization processes to be developed in the context of this project.
Another important part of the process of developing new capacities in support of industrialization are international partnerships focusing science, technology and innovation that have proven to work as a catalyzer by promoting the exposure to other communities of experts and heterogeneous environments .
Knowledge and policies for development: establishing innovative frameworks for science and technology in developing regions worldwide
Rational: Science policies emphasizing the advanced qualification of human resources, together with democratizing the access to science and internationalizing the science base, are shown to help building the necessary conditions driving brain gain over time.
Under this context, the main research hypothesis analyzed under the framework of IRGC Portugal in 2012 is about the need to focus science policies in developing regions on the process of building advanced human capital, which requires stable public strategies over time, together with adaptable and resilient research institutions
Two main issues were developed during 2012, making use of research teams in the partner institutions. First, attention was given to advanced human resources. By providing a dynamic approach and exploring a new set of data from Portugal over the period 1970-2010, the work focused on the analysis of flows of doctorates with the ultimate goal to help promoting the absorptive capacity that emerging regions and countries worldwide need to learn how to use science for economic development. It shows, by the end of that period, a notable process of brain gain and, above all, it provides a dynamic approach to the cumulative process of attempting to build knowledge-based societies. The results show the need to consider the co-evolution of brain gain, drain and circulation over time and space. In addition, they suggest the importance of a few major counter-intuitive policy instruments to facilitate the co-evolution of human capital formation and research capacity building. These instruments have included, in the case of Portugal, a centralized program of research grants, research careers independent of traditional faculty career tracks, and a diversified system of funding research units and institutions established upon research assessments through international peer reviews.
Second, a new set of research activities were launched to look at new paradigms of structured international university relationships, as shaped by a new era of international affairs. This is because those new paradigms are driven by political and economic interests, but also by an increased perception of the growing perceived evidence of the potential benefits resulting from the economic appropriation of the results and methods of science by society.
The results of the research undertaken in 2012 suggest that those relationships act as agents of change and a new narrative in university-government-industry relationships. They consider activities that are fundamentally different from the traditional role of universities, involving, most of the times, capacity building. They also require understanding the nature of international cooperation beyond the exporting/importing of "academic services" in all the institutions involved. In addition, they clearly break traditional boundaries of "national systems" and bring new challenges in terms of the necessary institutional integrity the partnering universities need to preserve and foster.
In general, the research undertaken in 2012, has focused on public policies in emerging societies and developing regions worldwide and suggested that that effective institutional autonomy and integrity of modern universities are to be promoted in a context where building human capital is a priority and alliances and partnerships among universities worldwide, as well as between them and industry, gain significant relevance.
Heitor, M.V. and Horta, H. (2012), "Opening-up higher education in emerging economies: Autonomy and integrity on the rise of globalization", International Journal of Chinese Education, accepted for publication.
Heitor, M.V. (2012), "How far university global partnerships may facilitate a new era of international affairs and foster political and economic relations?", Science and Public Policy, submitted to publication.
Horta, H. (2012; forthcoming), "Deepening our understanding of academic inbreeding effects on research information exchange and scientific output: new insights for academic based research", Higher Education.
Heitor, M.V. and Horta, H. (2012), "Democratizing higher education and the access to science: the Portuguese reform 2006-2010", Higher Education.
Heitor, M.V., Horta, H. and Mendonça, J. (2012), "Developing human capital and research capacity: science policies promoting brain gain", Technological Forecasting and Social Change, submitted to publication.
Developing a Research Agenda, 2013
The proposed activity of IRGC Portugal in 2013 is aimed to strengthen the research lines launched during 2012, together with advancing the debate on emerging risk governance issues and related science policy frameworks in close international cooperation.
Emerging forms of technological innovation, with emphasis on regulatory frameworks at the convergence of life sciences, physical sciences and engineering
The proposed research will deal with emerging "bio-dillemas", in that it is driven by the following observation: "the social perception of new product development and firm development in biotechnology is limiting new drug and treatment progression towards the patient".
This is because new challenges are emerging in recent years to the social construction of biotechnology, rising questions about new forms of stakeholder engagement in framing science and technology policies, the social acceptance of the regulatory framework, as well as on private and public investment patterns and geographies. Our goal is to identify and characterize these challenges by studying firm creation and survival in specific social, geographic and regulatory contexts, together with the increasingly relevant convergence of the life sciences, physical sciences and engineering, so that new policy frameworks can be developed to promote public health across geographies.
Despite biotechnology has driven science policies worldwide, as well as public and private funds in many world regions, successful new bio-industries are concentrated in few and very specific locations (or 'bio-intensive hot spots'). More companies are created in biotechnology in California and Boston than the rest of the world together. How far this is affecting public health beyond those regions? Are social and historical contexts impacting the development of new products and therapies across countries and regions?
Biotechnology was expected to disrupt drug discovery, manufacturing, and regulation, but it adapted to the traditional process of drug development. The social construction of both technological systems – biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries – present little or no differences today. However, the emerging applications of the convergence of the life sciences, physical sciences and engineering, such as regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, are challenging institutionalized regulation, investment structure, and policies.
Related modifications introduced by new forms of R&D organization are becoming a reality. Universities and hospitals are playing active roles in new forms of clinical trials, while patients are increasingly relevant in determining the success of new therapies, in a way far beyond that of physicians. The social acceptance of these evolving patterns provides an illustrative example that drug development can be challenged and successfully adapted. We shall take this as an inspiring example in aligning new product and firm development to emergent challenges.
Proposed levels of analysis and approach
Bio-dillemas will be addressed by applying three key levels of analysis: 1) Macro-level analysis: assess public available data and prior art to characterize the evolving geographies of bio-intensive hot-spots; 2) Stakeholder analysis: identify key stakeholders and gain an insightful overview of the social construction of bioindustries across geographies; 3) Case study approach: document in detail the bio-dilemmas for a specific set of companies, through detailed case studies.
The goal is to start by a quantitative macro-analysis to characterize social, technical, and historical contexts of bio-industries. This analysis includes the characterization of specific hot spots, namely California and Boston, and locations with poor translation of biotechnology products to the market, in particular the south region of Europe. We will then interview specific stakeholders and discuss the public perception of the different agents.
These studies shall reflect the understanding of the local characteristics of the processes and the social construction of biotechnology in the different regions, in particular their specific policies, regulations, and institutional constraints. Stakeholders to be considered include: researchers, regulators, entrepreneurs, medical doctors, patients associations and policy makers. Finally, we aim to study in detail and characterize two cases studies of particular companies that were born in the South region of Europe and California (respectively Alfama and Cytograft Tissue Engineering).
This research rational has been designed for the last 6-months. Anecdotal data was collected and identified specific variables that challenge the evolving social construction of bio-industries. As a result, the work proposed brings together a multidisciplinary team of experts in biosciences, the social construction of technological systems and policy research. Our expected outcomes include a book, peer-reviewed papers in international scientific journals, and case studies reports.
Potential and expected contributions
Two key contributions are expected in the evolving area of social studies of risk governance in biosciences. First, identify new challenges posed today regarding the social construction of biotechnology and develop a framework that illustrates current public perception and dilemmas. Second, promote new science policy recommendations and the analysis of adaptive regulatory frameworks to help facilitate new therapies and bio-products under secure conditions.
Design for uncertainty in urban contexts: looking at risk perceptions of lay people from vulnerable communities
A learning approach with a focus on vulnerable communities
Based on our preliminary fieldwork during 2012, we argue that a community approach could help shaping perceptions and behaviors of lay people. We build on the work of Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom who argued that processes of knowledge sharing that can lead to change in outcomes (such as reaching new levels of efficiency in terms of energy consumption) require a community approach. This entails three levels of interaction that need observation: bio-artefacts, ideas and communities (which include users).
In the context of our work, vulnerable communities bring new challenges to the application of this approach. Taking into account that people from the communities under analysis tend to be excluded, it is difficult to observe the construction of processes of knowledge sharing that can lead to outcomes (such as more efficiency patterns of energy consumption, prevention behaviors). This happens because interactions within and between (local) communities tend to be limited.
We focus on two areas:
Governing deindustrialization risks
Deindustrialization risks are slow-developing risks impacting economies and societies in their various dimensions. These risks are all but obvious since many have considered in the past deindustrialization as a sign of development.
The history and geographies of industry and innovation have been shaped by globalization, influencing geopolitical balances and reinforcing the inherent global dimension of industrial and science and technology policies. As a result, we need to understand within an historical perspective deindustrialization risks and how they affected growth and development across regions and industrial sectors. This understanding will lead to a new spatial-temporal narrative depicting the geographies, and challenges of these processes.
Industrialization in the 21st century goes well beyond building a manufacturing plant to encompass also a variety of related services and ensure access both to qualified human resources and knowledge. The future of manufacturing is developing in an environment of far greater risk and uncertainty than ever.
The research agenda proposed for addressing these issues from 2013 onwards includes:
Knowledge and policies for development: establishing innovative frameworks for science and technology in developing regions worldwide
The proposed research work for 2013 will consider the impact of a new era of international affairs in science policies. It includes the need to think and act beyond "national systems of innovation", the emerging perception of the "academic divide" at world level and, last but not least, the increasingly dynamic and globally distributed geography of innovation.
Science policies beyond national systems
Any modern narrative on the evolution of national policies requires the analyses of, at least, the last decades and the seminal work of Sylvia Ostry and Richard Nelson (1995) , among many others for the last twenty years, has called for our attention of the relationship between the globalism of firms and the nationalism of governments, as well as the related interplay of cooperation and competition that characterizes high technology and knowledge-based environments.
It should be noted that the Brookings Institution´s project of the early 90´s has promoted this debate, although in a different international context, and clearly shown that tensions about deeper integration arise from three broad sources: cross-border spillovers, diminished national autonomy, and challenges to political sovereignty. As a result, the technoglobalism of the 80´s gave rise to national policies designed to help high-tech industries become more innovative and, consequently, the emergence of technoglobalism.
It is under this context that the concept of "national systems of innovation" emerged in academia, mainly though economists and related schools of thought, to explain and explore how and why the systems have evolved differently in the major industrial nations, mainly US, Japan, UK, Germany and France. It was clear by then that the increasing international tensions were largely a result of the attempt of governments to impose national technology and innovation policies on a world in which business and technology are increasingly transnational.
The concept of "national systems of innovation" has evolved during the last two decades, first in association with the need to fight against "market failures", then against "system failures". And it helped building new nationalistic policies all over the world, but just as business and science are becoming increasingly transnational. The end result has been a frustration of national policies, on one hand, and a further move toward the multi-nationalization of business, on the other.
This requires many observations and, certainly, deepening the debate in relation to the current economic and social situation in the US and EU, as compared to those in newly industrialized regions and the, so-called, BRICS. First, the myth of "national" high tech industries and related policies to protect them requires to be better understood, if analyzed in terms of the increasing unemployment rates. Second, the debate itself on "national innovation policies" is in any case naïve. No country, even in non-democratic regimes, ever seems to have had a broad, well coordinated one, mainly because of the complex structures associated with any "innovation ecosystem".
Looking at the last two decades, the picture that is emerging at a global level is not very much different from that discussed by Sylvia Ostry and Dick Nelson in the early 90´s. In other words, it is one of increasing internationalization of private business strategies, while government innovation polices and science funding agencies remain overwhelmingly national. This is leading to new dilemmas for policymaking and to new sources of international friction, although with new boundaries and new players. The key issues to answer include what are the implications of increasing technoglobalism for national and international science and innovation policies, namely US, China and EU policies? And, also, what new approaches are required to reduce international frictions and where do public policies need wider integration?
Analysis in the literature has clearly shown that China's capacity to innovate is still quite limited as compared especially to the capacity of the US. A similar comment could be raised about Brazil, India or Russia and, therefore, there is a large scope to better discuss US and EU innovation policies in a broad international context, well beyond national borders. It is under this context that national innovation policies should help fostering a better understanding of future international collaborative paths in education, science and innovation. Ultimately, this will become a key issue for competitiveness everywhere, as discussed below.
On the emerging perception of the "academic divide" at world level
The recent explosion in demand for higher education by millions of young people around the world, associated with a growing perceived evidence of the potential benefits resulting from the economic appropriation of the results and methods of science by society, have changed the perception of the "academic divide" or "scientific divide" at world level.
Academic institutions from many regions worldwide are now operating internationally, addressing not only potential students individually (this was the traditional paradigm), but increasingly addressing foreign universities, foreign local authorities and governments, in order to develop new types of institutional arrangements. These include helping creating, monitoring or evaluating emerging institutions in other countries, transferring organizational skills, operating training programs for teachers and researchers, contributing to higher education and research capacity building abroad and to the marketing of its benefits for economic and social progress in other societies. Such new arrangements may also include the coaching and steering of research programs in emerging and developing regions, their early inclusion in international networks, and the affiliation of private companies to academic and research programs.
On the other hand, many emerging regions and developing countries are now facing the need and the opportunity of large investments in science, technology and higher education (public and private), aiming at responding to the explosive social demand for higher education and to the vast social and political transformations already induced by new waves of educated youth. These investments not only seek new skills and but also the certification of quality that may be expected from working along together with well established academic and scientific institutions from developed countries. For these institutions, such institutional arrangements provide new forms of expansion, as they tend to help securing new financial or human resources, and to challenge their own traditional competences and agendas.
However, this new paradigm in international academic cooperation does not appear to match the usual model for exporting services. Franchising, for instance, may seem attractive at short notice but its glamour fades away under increasing academic and political criticism. It seems that a new reality is emerging, in which the export of services is intimately associated with the development of national institutional capacities deriving their strengths from the much needed accumulation of qualified human resources, as well as from institutional participation in and recognition from international academic and research networks.
It is under this context that IRGC Portugal will attempt to develop a research agenda to contribute to the development of modern universities and systems of science and higher education, with particular attention to new developments in emerging societies and developing regions and countries.
The rational is that universities need to be both adaptable and resilient. First, universities should consider accommodating new configurations of knowledge production by establishing alliances with an increasingly large range of "knowledgeable" institutions . Second, they should secure and promote a sufficiently stable environment to train and supply talented people, including researchers for that increasingly large range of "knowledgeable" institutions. This leads to our main argument about the need for higher education systems and related public policies to promote effective institutional autonomy and integrity of modern universities, in a context where alliances and partnerships among universities worldwide, as well as between them and corporations, gain significant relevance.
This is the case of the recent investments in hundred new campi in China (e.g., the new campus in Macao), Russia (e.g., Skolkovo, in the vicinity of Moscow), Latin America (e.g. Northern Brazil, Ecuador, or Colombia), and Africa (e.g, Arusha in Tanzania and other developments in South Africa, Rwanda, Turkey). These investments not only seek to foster new skills and knowledge, but also the certification of quality that may be expected from working along with well-established academic and scientific institutions from developed countries. Such institutional arrangements provide new forms of expansion, as they tend to help securing new financial or human resources, and to challenge their own traditional competences and agendas.
In addition, the new paradigm of international academic and scientific cooperation referred to above seems to emerge as a major shaping factor for development at an unprecedented level. It is well known that universities from developed countries are now operating internationally, addressing not only potential students individually (this was the traditional paradigm), but increasingly addressing foreign universities, local authorities and governments, in order to develop new types of institutional arrangements.