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OECD Science, Technology and Innovation Outlook 2018

Adapting to Technological and Societal Disruption

image of OECD Science, Technology and Innovation Outlook 2018

The OECD Science, Technology and Innovation Outlook 2018 is the twelfth edition in a series that biennially reviews key trends in science, technology and innovation (STI) policy in OECD countries and a number of major partner economies. The 14 chapters within this edition look at a range of topics, notably the opportunities and challenges related to enhanced data access, the impacts of artificial intelligence on science and manufacturing, and the influence of digitalisation on research and innovation. The report also discusses the shortcomings of current policy measures, how the Sustainable Development Goals are re-shaping STI policy agendas, and the need for new - more flexible and agile - approaches to technology governance and policy design. While these disruptive changes challenge policy makers in a number of ways, the digital revolution underway also provides solutions for better policy targeting, implementation and monitoring.

This report relies on the latest academic work in the field, research and innovation statistical data, as well as data on wider trends and issues. It makes extensive use of country responses to the 2017 EC OECD STI policy survey (https://stip.oecd.org) and features contributions by renowned experts and academics to broaden the debate and provide more personal, sometimes controversial, angles to it.

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New trends in public research funding

Public research is expected to fulfil a widening set of objectives, from scientific excellence and economic relevance to contributing to a variety of societal challenges (inclusiveness, gender diversity, sustainability, etc.). Policy makers in ministries and funding agencies have broadened their portfolio of funding instruments and design variants to respond to this demand. However, little is known about the potential effects of the various funding instruments on research outcomes. This chapter aims to provide policy makers with analytical tools to help them decide upon what types of funding mechanisms and instruments should finance what types of research and for what effects. It examines recent changes in the modes of allocation of research funding that have blurred the formerly well-established boundaries between competitive and non-competitive funding instruments. It then proposes a simple conceptual framework to present the portfolio of research-funding instruments available to policy makers along multiple and continuous – rather than unique and binary – dimensions. The chapter then analyses the “purpose fit” of this growing set of funding instruments – i.e. their ability to fulfil different policy objectives – to help policymakers design and utilise them in a way that best corresponds to the expected impacts of public research. The chapter concludes with a forward-looking discussion that draws implications in terms of future analytical work and how emerging long-term trends (e.g. digitalisation and societal challenges) might influence the volume and types of research funding.

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