Innovation in Southeast Asia

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The Southeast Asian (SEA) region is one of the most dynamic in the world. It is in a period of transition as its national economies become strongly integrated into global knowledge networks. Science and technology (S&T) offer opportunities for countries to ‘move up the value chain’. A better understanding of existing capabilities helps enhance mutually beneficial S&T and innovation co-operation between SEA and OECD countries.

This review provides a quantitative and qualitative assessment of Southeast Asian countries’ capacity in S&T and innovation. A regional synthesis highlights current performance and intra- and extra-regional knowledge circulation, including flows between the Southeast Asian region and the established centres of knowledge production such as the EU, Japan and the United States. The country profiles describe the dynamics of national innovation systems and their relation to international knowledge flows, taking into account the wider framework conditions for innovation.



Economic development and performance

This chapter first provides a broad comparative overview of Southeast Asia as one of the world’s most dynamic regions. It describes the emergence of Asian Tiger economies and their structural transformation into industrialised countries that export to world markets. It next focuses on the levels of economic performance – in terms of gross domestic product and labour productivity – that result from this change and shows the great diversity of Southeast Asia through a number of development indicators and reflects on this rich catch-up experience. Next, it outlines the trade performance of Southeast Asian countries and provides information on evolving patterns of trade from an innovation perspective. It highlights the factors underlying the changes observed, such as the increasing importance of global value chains (GVCs). Finally, it considers potential future drivers of economic change in the region, including GVCs and the rise of China as the region’s centre of gravity. It highlights the role of innovation in seizing emerging opportunities and tackling the challenges presented by this new setting.


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