Methodological and Technological issues in Technology Transfer

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2.3 Mechanisms for technology transfer

2.3.1 National systems of innovation

In recent years it has become clear that technology intermediation is needed to reduce barriers to technology transfer associated with information, management, technology, and financing. Research on technology innovation also highlights the role of intermediaries in the innovation process. They operate between users and suppliers of technology and help to create the links within networks and systems through bridging between institutions, encouraging interaction within the system and assisting with undertaking search, evaluation and dissemination tasks. They ensure that technological know-how is broadly dispersed within the system and can provide a compensating mechanism for weaknesses or "holes" in the system. The high value of technology intermediation is illustrated by many of the case studies presented throughout the Report (see for instance Box TS2).

Examples of technology intermediaries include specialised government agencies, energy-service companies, non-governmental organisations, university liaison departments, regional technology centres, research and technology organisations, electric power utilities, and cross-national networks. Non-governmental organisations in particular are playing a greater role in technology intermediation; for example, there are many cases where technology intermediation by non-governmental organisations played a key role in the success of particular technology transfer efforts for renewable energy.

The key lesson which can be learnt from the literature on technology intermediaries, is the importance of mechanisms in which actions are integrated to make them more effective. Technology transfers are influenced greatly by what have been called national systems of innovation--the institutional and organisational structures which support technological development and innovation. Governments can build or strengthen scientific and technical educational institutions and modify the form or operation of technology networks-the interrelated organisations generating, diffusing, and utilising technologies.

National systems of innovation (NSI) integrate the elements of capacity building, access to information and an enabling environment into a mechanism for EST transfer that adds up to more than the individual components. Subsystems and the quality of interconnections within them can successfully influence technology transfer. NSIs can be enhanced through partnerships sponsored by international consortia. Partnerships would be system oriented, encompass all stages of the transfer process, and ensure the participation of private and public stakeholders, including business, legal, financial and other service providers from developed and developing countries.

NSI activities may include:

NSI offer a new solution to the challenge of technology transfer and offer a cost effective, flexible way of enhancing technology transfer. Governments and multinational organisations should consider developing programmes to support NSI activities, either individually or jointly.

Comprehensive approaches to technology transfer which incorporate many of the elements listed above are beginning to emerge on both a bilateral and multilateral basis. One such activity being conducted on a bilateral basis by the United States is the Technology Cooperation Agreement Pilot Project, known as TCAPP. A similar multilateral approach is being pursued by the Climate Technology Initiative (CTI), an activity undertaken by 23 developed country Parties and the European Commission in support of the UNFCCC. Both approaches utilize a bottom-up, collaborative process under which all relevant stakeholders are engaged to jointly determine the technology selection/practices and implementation path consistent with that country's/region's sustainable development goals for one or more sectors. These approaches require a mutual commitment to explore actions which focus on achieving climate and development benefits to the host country, with active participation of relevant government, non-government, community, and industry groups. Since the goal is to translate sectoral needs into functioning projects, consideration is given to how the projects might be best structured to encourage private sector investment, including the need for regulatory or other change within the country to foster an enabling environment.


In 1997, the U.S. Government launched the Technology Co-operation Agreement Pilot Project (TCAPP) to provide a model for a collaborative approach to foster technology co-operation for climate change mitigation technologies. Under TCAPP, the Governments of Brazil, China, Kazakhstan, Mexico, and the Philippines are currently working with the private sector and bilateral and international donor organisations to attract private investment in clean energy technologies in their countries. Many other donor initiatives have also adopted similar collaborative approaches between country officials, businesses, and donors in fostering private investment. However, TCAPP is one of the few initiatives that has engaged climate change officials in this collaborative process to lead to actions that address both development needs and climate change goals.

TCAPP has two basic phases of activities. In the first phase, the participating countries have developed technology co-operation frameworks that define their climate change technology co-operation priorities and the actions necessary to attract private investment in these priorities. These actions include efforts aimed at capturing immediate investment opportunities (e.g. issuance of investment solicitations, investment financing, business matchmaking and capacity building, etc.) and longer-term efforts to remove market barriers. In the second phase, TCAPP assists the country teams in securing the private sector, in-country, and donor participation and support necessary to successfully implement these actions. This second phase of activities includes two major types of activities:

(1) Attracting direct private investment in immediate market opportunities. This includes helping the countries develop and issue investment solicitations for large-scale opportunities and business matchmaking and financing activities. TCAPP has established an international business network to help guide the design and implementation of these activities.

(2) Securing support for actions to address market barriers. These actions range from business capacity building to policy reform. This includes development of domestic implementation plans for these actions and securing necessary donor support to assist with implementation of these plans. TCAPP assists the countries in preparing implementation plans and donor proposals and in matching country needs with donor programmes.

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