Regional officials and industry thought leaders were among those who put forward strategies for Asia-Pacific economies to encourage effective, non-discriminatory and market-driven innovation at an APEC workshop held in Singapore on 4-5 April.


APEC economies must continue to actively promote innovation-friendly policies and infrastructure to bolster their economic fortunes, noted public and private sector delegates.


APEC leaders agreed in 2011 that the generation and commercialization of new ideas is vital to regional prosperity and have made the promotion of innovation as a driver of trade, economic integration, supply-chain performance and green growth a top priority for 2012.


“It is important to develop policy environments where ‘innovation actors’ such as private firms, financial institutions including venture capital pools, supporting organizations and research institutes in APEC economies can act proactively develop, find and utilize innovations in an open, free, fair and transparent trading environment,” said Kenji Goto, Japan’s APEC Senior Official.


“Under such circumstances, innovative goods, services, business models and technologies will be produced, exchanged and disseminated rapidly and efficiently, which in turn will deepen regional economic integration, buoy economic growth and improve the quality of life in the region,” Goto added.


Policy adoption and knowledge exchange that promotes open, transparent and fair legal frameworks, smart regulation and intellectual property rights protection was described as crucial. Delegates also highlighted the importance of human resources development and technological, logistical and social interconnectedness.


Performance in the private sector can be viewed as a barometer of progress on this front.


“The creation, production and commercialization of new ideas are the lifeblood of the information and communications technology industry given that technology changes so fast,” said Steven Lee, Supervisor of Chinese Taipei mobile device firm HTC and CEO of PC processor platform maker VIA Networking Technologies, Inc. “Companies have to innovate quickly to survive.”


Delegates contended that the beneficiaries of environments that support creative, value adding concepts are not just investors and corporate shareholders alone.


John Ure, Executive Director of the Asia Internet Coalition, an association that promotes open internet access, pointed to the significance of the internet’s transformation into a global mode of production, distribution and consumption.


“The real benefit [of this trend] to the economy and to trade is not growth per se, but the likelihood that growth will be more broadly based – and therefore more sustainable – and more socially inclusive,” Ure said.

“Economies that are slow to adapt will be slow to benefit,” he cautioned.


In Singapore, the consensus among delegates was that the Asia-Pacific region is increasingly open to the tenants of innovation, but that there is still plenty of room for policy enhancement among both developed and developing economies.


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