The Pacific Regional Seminar or Innovation was developed as a part of the “Territorial Strategies for Innovation” (TSI) project, which enhances sustainable development through innovative solutions for economic diversification and improves regional and global competitiveness of the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) of the European Union.
Funded by the 10th European Fund for Development (EDF) and driven by the OCTA (Overseas Countries and Territories Association), the TSI project was launched in November 2014 in Brussels and provides technical capacity to 20 OCTs which are engaged in developing their innovation strategies.
The objectives of this regional seminar were to exchange information on the status and content of regional innovation strategies and discuss the early stages of the implementation of strategies and plans related to the short- and long-term actions. These first steps are intended to lead to pilot projects in the OCTs and their regions.
The seminar was also an opportunity for innovation managers from OCTs to meet with their counterparts and innovation experts at the regional and international level. There were presentations on different strategies for innovation, their implementations and impacts on the economy, and the showcasing of financing solutions for innovative projects. Sectoral panels allowed non-governmental entities to share their experiences and latest findings.
This seminar was also an excellent opportunity to present the PACE-Net Plus project, and in particular the innovation aspects of the project. Professor Jean-François Marini (project coordinator at Institut de recherche pour le développement) gave this overview on behalf of the project.
n addition to the five (5) OCTs participating in this regional seminar (French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Wallis and Futuna), PACE-Net Plus brought to the seminar a wider regional perspective, by inviting the following guests: Professor Jim Metson, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment of New Zealand, and Dr. Tony Peacock, CEO of the Cooperation Research Centers Association in Canberra, who presented the strategy of innovation within the New Zealand and Australian economies. PACE-Net Plus partners Landcare Research and Montroix also attended this event.
Mr. Ludovico Alcorta, Director of Research, Statistics and Industrial Policy at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization UNIDO, (and also a partner in PACE-Net Plus) presented the preliminary results of the project’s survey on innovation in the Pacific region (conducted in New Caledonia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Cook Islands).
In addition to the above mentioned experts, the following delegates took part in the event: Mr. Philippe Germain (President of the Government of New Caledonia), Mr. Vincent Bouvier (High-Commissioner of the French Republic in New Caledonia), Mr. Efstratos Pegidis (Representative of the European Commission for the OCTs in the Pacific), Mr. Milan Jezic von Gesseneck (OCTA Innovation team leader), innovation managers for New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis & Futuna and various innovation actors. Mr. Georges de Noni (Director of IRD Noumea), reasserted the importance of research in innovation to serve sustainable development.
Some interesting observations from the seminar deliberations include:
- there are no one-size-fits-all models of innovation;
- innovation funding can have many sources depending on scale, complexity and impact;
- innovation funding is best when it takes into account desired behaviors as well as products and services;
- collaborations can play a significant role in innovation funding and innovation outcomes;
- alternative funding sources (crowdfunding, business angels, etc.) should not be neglected;
- digital development supports innovation;
- a competitive and innovation-friendly environment is essential;
- a post-start up strategy towards industry should be anticipated;
- small high-tech enterprises with big impacts, rely on individual skills but might be constrained by the smallness of the territories.
The seminar was well-received, with many participants gaining much inspiration for future prospects in their own countries.
PACE-Net Plus will continue with the innovation theme into 2016, and will organise its last bi-regional policy dialogue platform, centred on this topic, during 27-30 June 2016 in Fiji. More information about this platform will shortly be published on the PACE-Net Plus website.