Evaluation Of S&t Programmes Among Apec Member Economies

  • Dr Lockwood Smith
Foreign Affairs and Trade

APEC Symposium, Wellington Wednesday 2 December 1998

I am very pleased to welcome you here today to this symposium.

I know that many of you have spent many hours travelling to get here. This is a key milestone in the implementation of a common project between New Zealand and the People's Republic of China, which was initiated nearly two years ago.

You will be discussing methodologies and experiences in evaluation of public investment in research, science and technology among APEC member economies, in the context of an integrated management practice and overall science and technology policy.

I am pleased to see such a wide representation of APEC economies at this symposium and also participation by representatives from Brazil and EUREKA.

As APEC enters its second decade in 1999, it becomes an even more important forum for New Zealand. As a small trading nation within the Asia Pacific region we see huge potential benefits from regional discussion on issues of regional importance.

Our commitment to APEC is gaining momentum with our chairmanship of the forum in 1999, and with several APEC summits which are to be hosted by New Zealand in the coming year.

It is good to see a growing awareness among APEC fora of the contribution that science and technology makes to support the broad APEC goal of Economic and Technical Co-operation. At their meeting in Vancouver last year, APEC Leaders generated a vision for the 21st Century that stressed 'connecting' people, resources, issues and science and technology in the APEC region.

Symposiums such as this one today provide an excellent opportunity for the public and private sector to participate in the policy dialogue which is necessary to support this vision.

It is vital that we encourage open discussion on the evaluation of science and technology programmes, to position ourselves strategically for the challenges and opportunities posed by the 21st Century.

As a region we can benefit greatly from sharing experiences on how to maximise the benefits of science and technology investment, and how to improve the interface between public and private R&D activities.

Evaluation of the Government's investment in science and technology is a priority for New Zealand.

The Government is committed to investment in science and technology for fostering increase economic growth and wellbeing, and recognises the critical role that evaluation should play in guiding investment decisions in the context of effective management practice.

The collaboration within APEC on evaluation experiences among APEC members has been one of the major factors in the process. The questionnaire, which was ably co-ordinated by our partners from the People's Republic of China, has provided very useful input into the project.

At the 3rd APEC Ministers Meeting on Regional Science and Technology, which I attended in Mexico in October, we talked a lot about the need to enhance science and technology efforts during difficult financial times.

We also discussed the role of networks and partnerships to sustain discovery and innovation and to maximise the efficiency of existing investments in science and technology across APEC.

My government's focus for its investment in science and technology is moving towards emphasising networks and desired outcomes for research, science and technology, rather than concentrating solely on research, science and technology inputs or outputs.

I am strongly of the belief that New Zealand can only reach its full potential when the right government policies are in place to ensure that not just the science and technology system, but all the networks and partnerships within the innovation system can function properly.

I initiated the Foresight Project in December of 1997. The project has a strong futures-focus and has invited a community-wide involvement in setting directions for future public investment in research, science and technology, with particular attention to strengthening the linkages between those who are at the sciences and end-users of science.

In the context of the Foresight Project, I see evaluation as the most critical input to policy formulation and as an on-going process which aims to improve the overall performance of the science and technology sector.

For those of you who are visiting New Zealand for the first time, I hope you will get an opportunity to see what New Zealand has to offer. If you get the opportunity do so take time to look around the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, our new museum.

It is a fascinating place to learn in an interactive environment about New Zealand history, our cultural heritage, technological achievements and our future focus.

Thank you. I wish you well for your discussions. I await the results of this symposium with real interest.