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The sessions focused on the role of science and innovation in the digital age and was moderated by Ms Marjory Blumenthal (Senior Policy Researcher at the Rand Corporation).
The panellists primarily addressed the key changes to science and innovation in their respective countries.
Mr Rene Tammist (Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology in Estonia) emphasises the need to empower future technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), and the real-time economy, as well as to invest in future skills, enable access to data and promote innovation. Moreover, he stresses that governments can and should be leaders in the digital age, by giving the example of Estonia that started using blockchain before it became widely used and applied it in the digital governance and health sectors.
Ms Elizabeth Kelly (Deputy Secretary at the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science in Australia) noted that in addition to the growth of the digital economy, the question of systems of regulation is an important aspect of the Australian strategy. She also reflected on AI and its ethical component, stressing that the ethical framework and the toolkit are being finalised and include high-level ethical principles to be open to contributions from a wide range of stakeholders.
Moreover, Mr Luis Adrián Salazar (Minister of Science, Technology, and Telecommunication from Costa Rica) sees the need for people to be part of the change and feel the benefits of the digital age as the key challenge. The youth are perceived as the critical part of this process and thus should be largely involved.
The issue of collaboration between multiple stakeholders and the way the government can help accordingly was addressed by all of the panellists.
Mr Manuel Heitor (Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education in Portugal), calls for new policy frameworks to better link the scientific processes with the digital arena, mostly for the sake of enabling access to data and increasing participation of a wider society. Trust related to the way the knowledge is produced and diffused should also be built between multiple stakeholders (especially the scientists and the wider community), and digital skills strategies focusing on inclusion as well as collaborative arrangements between the public and private sector could be of help.
Mr Julio Pertuzé (Head of Division at Office of the Economy of the Future, Ministry of Economy, Chile) also brought up the question of collaboration between different sectors and pointed to the important role of the government in stimulating collaboration among actors that do not necessarily collaborate per se (e.g. universities and the private sector).
The issues centred around open science, which also implies open data and the issue of protecting data sets were also addressed by the panellists.
The panellists agreed on the importance of investing in digital skills and creating an enabling environment.
Finally, the importance of the OECD’s contribution in the digital field was acknowledged by all the panellists who invited the OECD to continue sharing its best practices and to help understand and address the ensuing challenges and changes.
By Katarina Andjelković