Foreword

The OECD Science, Technology and Innovation Outlook 2018 is the twelfth edition in a biennial series that reviews key trends in science, technology and innovation (STI) policy in OECD countries and several major partner economies. The 14 chapters in 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 more flexible and agile approaches to technology governance and policy design. While these disruptive changes pose a number of challenges for policymakers, the digital revolution under way also provides solutions for better policy targeting, implementation and monitoring.

This report relies on the latest academic work in the field, as well as research and innovation statistical data, and data on wider trends and issues. It makes extensive use of country responses to the 2017 European Commission/OECD International Survey on Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (https://stip.oecd.org). It also features contributions by renowned experts and academics to broaden the debate and provide more personal – and sometimes controversial – angles to it.

A common denominator across the chapters is the need for more adaptive policies that can better respond to disruptive scientific, technological and societal developments. This, in turn, creates new challenges: governments need to become more agile, while still ensuring policy coherence and maintaining public trust. During this necessary transition, emerging and fast-changing digital technologies both challenge policymakers, and provide them with solutions to better target, implement and monitor their interventions.

All the STI Outlook 2018 chapters feature concrete examples of national policy initiatives in order to contribute to the process of international policy learning. Complexity and uncertainty characterise the relationship between developments in STI and the economic and social challenges facing countries at all income levels. Consequently, an ever-greater need exists for exchanging information on existing policies, as well as the factors underlying their successes and failures.

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