What Is The Importance of STI Policy?

In the context of an increasingly competitive global economy, knowledge-based goods and services are the key to socio-economic development and sustainable growth. Indeed, knowledge and innovation have been recognized as key components of competitiveness by international indices such as the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), the Global Innovation Index (GII), and the World Bank’s Knowledge Economy Index (KEI). These indices have a number of indicators dedicated to measuring knowledge outputs, knowledge absorption, technological readiness, innovation, and human capital and research. This suggests that the movement towards a knowledge economy relies in large part on the ability to effectively leverage knowledge and human capital resources to enable STI to make significant contributions to GDP.
However, Egypt has scored consistently low on global indicators of competitiveness, even when compared to its counterparts in the MENA region and other economies at similar levels of development. One key pillar of any competitiveness index is the institutional and regulatory environment in which all other components of development operate. The regulatory environment and regulatory quality indicators in the GII are particularly telling of the role played by policy and regulation on the knowledge and innovation ecosystem. A supportive policy environment will have a positive effect on knowledge absorption, knowledge creation, knowledge impact, and knowledge diffusion. Consequently, it is an enabler for the creation of knowledge-based products that make a direct contribution to GDP and the welfare of citizens.
According to the 2014 GII, however, Egypt ranked 131 in the indicator on regulatory environment and 109 in regulatory quality, compared to a rank of 36 and 66 for Jordan, 104 and 55 for Turkey, and 77 and 46 for Malaysia. This suggests that an improvement in the STI policy and regulatory environment in Egypt is a prerequisite to improving the impact of STI on socio-economic development and the well-being of Egyptians.
Indeed, in order to test this assessment, ECASTI collaborated with the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research (Baseera) on the design and dissemination of a survey on the relationship between science and society. The 2014 survey results revealed that the vast majority (85%) of a nationally representative sample of Egyptians believed that scientific research was essential to building a strong Egyptian state, yet only 45% felt that science was making a positive contribution to their lives. Moreover, 86% of another sample of more than 570 Egyptian scientists, academics, and researchers felt that the legal and institutional environment of STI in Egypt does not support research and innovation.
Thus, it was the link between policy and performance, as well as Egypt’s need to extract greater impact from science, which prompted the founders of ECASTI to envision a role for an independent civil society organization that would assist in the production of the insights necessary to create a more supportive ecosystem for STI. It is our belief that by filling this vital gap in the STI institutional environment, ECASTI can be in a position to advocate for a greater role for STI in the Egyptian economy and perform an advisory function where STI policy is concerned. Through such efforts, ECASTI hopes to make a contribution to improving Egypt’s performance in global competitiveness indicators and propelling Egypt towards a knowledge-based economy.

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