OECD Report Shows Stronger Interaction Between Industry and Science are Key to Innovation and Economic Growth

May 1, 2002

Paris, 30 April 2002

An OECD report demonstrates that stronger interactions between science and industry underpin growth in a knowledge economy. Drawing on a broad range of quantitative and qualitative indicators of the intensity and quality of the interactions between firms, universities and public research organisations, the report provides, for the first time, a systematic benchmarking of the ability of countries to harness science for economic and social progress.

Strong industry-science relationships play an increasing role in determining the economic payoffs of public and private investment in R&D, as well as a country's attractiveness for venture capital and for highly qualified and mobile professionals. They are also a source of efficient technological solutions to societal challenges in the areas of health and environmental protection. The report finds that co-operation with industry also helps advance basic research in universities and improves the training of researchers.

For some time, various OECD countries have fostered improved links between science and industry. In the United States, closer co-operation between academia and business has characterised the innovation-led economic growth of the past decade and is currently helping the country to secure a lead in science-based industries ranging from IT and biotechnology to the new field of nanotechnologies. Others, including large advanced economies which had been lagging behind, such as Japan, Germany and France, are undertaking reforms aimed at removing regulatory barriers to closer industry-science relations, while creating incentives for public research to join forces with business.

This OECD study takes a comparative approach to assessing such reforms and identifying good practices. Although there is no single model for strengthening science/industry linkages, governments must set the basic rules that provide the right incentives for firms and public researchers and organisations to work together. The experience of successful countries offers useful lessons on how to improve formal and informal knowledge interactions between public and private research, for example through joint research, greater mobility of researchers, better management of intellectual property rights at universities, and better governance and evaluation of public research.

While the report recommends further reforms to bring firms closer to public science, it warns that increased commercialisation of public research should not be pursued at the expense of investment in curiosity-driven scientific research. Industry expects "excellence" more than "economically relevant" research from the public sector. Governments thus face the difficult challenge of ensuring that the economic benefits from stronger industry-science interaction do not come at the expense of weakened support to fundamental research and teaching or the wide diffusion of knowledge generated through research financed by public funds.

This is the latest of several OECD reports that explore the technological sources of economic growth following on the OECD Growth Project in 2001.

Journalists may obtain a copy of the report from the OECD's Media Relations Division. This report is on sale through the Online Bookshop. For further information, journalists are invited to contact Jean Guinet, Senior Economist, Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry (tel. [33] 1 45 24 94 03). Information on the OECD's work on science and innovation is available on the OECD's website at www.oecd.org/science

"Benchmarking Industry-Science Relationships "
198 pages, OECD, Paris 2002
Available in electronic form (pdf)
Euros 35; US$31
ISBN 92-64-19741-9 (92 2002 05 1P)

Un rapport de l'OCDE montre que le renforcement des liens d'interdépendance entre la science et l'industrie est déterminant pour l'innovation et la croissance économique http://www.oecd.org/EN/document/0,,EN-d ocument-590-17-no-12-29078-0,00.html

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

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