Linking education with innovation was a key part of our latest DEIP workshop, held in the Dominican Republic in the heart of the Caribbean. Our event, co-hosted with the Inter-American Development Bank and the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology, brought researchers face-to-face with private and public sector representatives to find new and better ways to promote innovation. We spoke with five delegates, each representing a sphere of influence in innovation policy; click the + signs to see the brief video interviews.
BANK VIEW (2:17 mins)
Flora Montealegre Painter, from the Inter-American Development Bank, set out the context: “The Dominican Republic is one of the countries in Latin America that has been growing at the fastest rates in the last decade. Yet this growth is based on a very basic model that does not take into account issues of innovation… The biggest challenge right now is the institutional challenge, but clearly there are budgetary and financial issues because investment in innovation in the country is one of the lowest in the region.”
On the DEIP course itself, Painter said: “it’s very important to bring the different actors together and here we have academics, we have policymakers from different ministries… I think it will also create more consciousness about the importance of innovation policies and will enhance institutional capacity because we will build human capital around innovation issues.”
MINISTRY VIEW (4:47 mins)
Ligia A. Melo de Cardona, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, said: “It’s really difficult to develop innovation if we don’t have people that master the concept of innovation or research… That’s why we consider the training of PhDs a priority, especially in scientific fields as well as in the social sciences… We work directly with universities, making sure they develop scientific careers, and also develop research through a national research fund.
“We are also developing other programmes aimed at resolving issues among institutions, such as the university-industry relations programme: trying to influence companies or enterprises so they introduce innovation within their organisation. In order to achieve this, we created three departments: the innovation and technology transfer department, the university-industry relation department, and we are also developing an entrepreneurship department, under the innovation division; always having in mind that our goal is that industries can innovate more.”
UNIVERSITY VIEW (1:34 mins)
Máximo Martínez, from the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra, a university in the north of the country, said that innovation “could be used by all sectors and that we should rethink our strategies… if we want to be a knowledge-based economy or if we want to stay based on services and manufacturing and all the things that we already do well.
“This training programme is key in order to move forward the concept of innovation in the Dominican Republic because it brings together lots of stakeholders that have different points of view around the subject and gives us the benefit of hearing everybody and achieving a consensus in order to take this from policy and influence decision makers.”
PRIVATE SECTOR VIEW (2:03 mins)
Laura Conde, from Nap del Caribe, a network access firm, said “the Dominican Republic is confronting several issues in terms of innovation. The principal one is that we need to reinforce the innovation systems that affect our economy… The second one is the culture. We have a big cultural issue in terms of education… We need to work in the transference of knowledge. Another important factor is that we always think, talk and speak about plans, but we don’t take actions.
“[The DEIP programme] gave us a general view of what innovation strategy we could apply in our companies in order to be more competitive … This is a good initiative because now we can form a national innovation strategy.”
PUBLIC SECTOR VIEW (2:22 mins)
Alessandra Valconi, from the Vice-President’s Office, said that: “Although the country is slowly incorporating innovative practices, a lot more still needs to be done… Right now our education [system]… has some antiquated elements and I think fostering critical thinking is definitely going to make a difference when it comes to a firm or public sector’s absorptive capacity.
“Having a mixture of the public, the private sector and academia in this training programme is definitely useful. I think the conversations are very enriching. You get to hear perspectives you normally don’t hear. One of the most important things for innovation is cooperation and coordination… and these training programmes bringing together people from all the different sectors is definitely very productive.”
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