TMCD Director, Prof Xiaolan Fu, speaks at the OECD-TIP Workshop titled 'Science, technology and innovation in times of COVID-19'.

TMCD Director Prof Xiaolan Fu, spoke at the OECD-TIP Workshop titled 'Science, technology and innovation in times of COVID-19: what policy options for recovery? held on Wednesday, 24th June, 2020.She spoke on the panel titled 'What are the possible longer-term challenges and opportunities of Covid-19?'. 

Prof Fu's presentation focused on the opportunities and threats for STI systems to contribute to sustainability and resilience as well as the role digital innovation will play in the economic recovery. She argued that while many countries have made urgent responses to the pandemic, and scientists responded quickly and worked hard on Covid-19 related research; there are great needs in collaborative and multi-disciplinary research. She called it the ‘Grand STI’ system, these needs include:

  • More multi-disciplinary research across science and engineering fields, and between STI and social sciences research to strengthen the science-policy interface, support evidence-based decision making.
  • More international collaboration along the whole scientific discovery and innovation chain; we can do better than what we are doing now. The lack of solidarity has already been raised last week.
  • More mutual learning: Europe is 2 months later than Asia in facing the Covid-19. But the response to Covid in many of the European countries and the US came as a big surprise.
  • Low income countries: the pandemic is still developing, too much uncertainty. Are we prepared to help the low income countries? 

She also argued that for STI systems to contribute to sustainability and resilience, there is need to build a Grand STI system and a system approach. This will entail the following;

  • Bolder promotion of inter- and multi-disciplinary research, embed this approach in policy making; and promotion of collaborative research.
  • Strengthening of the science-policy interface; the scientific advice system at the local government level and legal guarantee to ensure that the voice of science being heard seriously
  • Fostering a grand scientist who has a broad knowledge base and the ability to work with people and in particular, ability to integrate knowledge from different disciplines.
  • The need to admit the unconscious bias & pride, and be open-minded to learn from each other and save lives.

In conclusion, she said that in the post-Coronavirus economic recovery, emerging technologies can play a transformative role in offering solutions to the challenge of great lockdown; in building a more resilient and sustainable production and supply system to address labour supply shocks; and fostering new drivers of economic growth. She said that this is an action area where STI system will play an important role in economic recovery.