The role of Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) is considered as a key tool to national economic and sustainable development under the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan. In order to advance the national innovation system in Lao PDR, the country has outlined five main goals to improve R&D, upgrade STI education, strengthen international and domestic STI networks, foster public research, and promote technology adaptation in its National Strategy for STI Development.
With the recognition of its weak STI institutions and a lack of STI resources to fulfill the national strategy, Lao PDR requested the STI policy training and consultation supports to the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI) in 2017. After the timely short-term training services from STEPI to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) in Lao PDR in 2018, the country’s first-ever policy consultation project titled National Master Plan for STI Research & Development and Application in Lao PDR 2020-2022’ was successfully initiated by the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI) with funding from the Korean Ministry of Economy and Finance in 2020.
The aim of this joint project between STEPI and MOST was designed to support Lao government officials’ task on developing the National Master Plan for STI Research & Development and Application and to promote a better understanding of STI systems and recent STI issues in both countries that will be the critical foundation for further bilateral cooperation in the future. The main components of this project are 1) mutual learning of Korean experience cases in STI-driven economic development and current STI-related challenges facing the Lao government, 2) policy consultations from STI policy experts in Korea and Lao PDR, and 3) capacity-building programs for policy planning.
It’s been unfortunate that the project launched amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the spring of 2020, and so there haven’t been any in-person meetings between Korean and Laotian research teams for two years 2020-2021. During the first year of the project, the research team overviewed the national STI policy and education in Lao PDR and presented a brief case of Korea’s STI development path with Korea’s current status in the global research ecosystem.
In the spring of 2021, the second year of the project, the Laotian government has made a dramatic restructuring of its ministries. MOST, a counterpart of the K-Innovation Lao PDR Project, has been dissolved, and its main function for technology and innovation has been moved into the Department of Technology and Innovation (DTI) in the Ministry of Technology and Communications in Lao PDR. Due to this big change in the domestic governmental environment in Lao PDR, our project made a necessary reorganization of its work scope to fully reflect the most recent needs and demands from our partner organization and country.
In this second year, the research team has offered more in-depth case studies on several major STI topics such as research institutes, STI workforce, and STI-related sectoral development. Firstly, Mr. Myunghwan Oh delineates a political, economic, and societal history of Lao PDR with the most up-to-date environments of the country.
In the following STI-focused chapters, Professor Mahn Yong Moon delivers a historical analysis on the emergence and expansion of government-funded research institutes (GRIs) and explains how GRIs in the form of a science and technology complex paved the way forward for STI-oriented national economic development in Korea. Professor Jejeong Lee then examines the current structures and roles of major public STI research institutes in Lao PDR and points out the urgency of the digitalization of basic STI data produced by public organizations.
In the next issue of the STI workforce and role of higher education, Professor Eunkyoung Lee delineates the decades-long efforts of the Korean government to foster highly qualified R&D personnel and research-oriented universities, and presents insightful implications for the policy of fostering scientific and technological workforce in Lao PDR. An overview of the higher education system and roles of universities for national development in Lao PDR is also presented by Professor Ji Soon Chang.
As a sample case of the development of STI-applied sectors, Dr. Jeehyun Kim provides a rich historical analysis of R&D and workforce development in agriculture and biotechnology in Korea. Mr. Changho Shin also presents a brief investigation of the Laotian situation for the same sectors for benchmarking.
Despite the continuing global pandemic constraints hindering face-to-face interaction, the project has been carried out under the auspices and contribution of our research teams in both Korea and Lao PDR, and STI policy experts participating in the online high-level launching seminar, K-Innovation Dissemination Forum, and capacity-building program. STEPI would like to credit the tremendous support from Mr. Choulamany and DTI colleagues, the Embassy of Lao PDR in Korea, Korea-Lao PDR Friendship Association, and Korean Ministry of Economy and Finance. With the development of the National STI Master Plan draft awaited in this coming final year of our project, STEPI expects this report to be a quality analysis to guide our collaboration between Korean and Laotian experts to explore national innovation systems in both countries.
Chapter 1. Project Overview
Chapter 2. Macro-environments of Lao PDR
Chapter 3. Public STI Research Institutes in Korea
Chapter 4. Public STI Research Institutes in Lao PDR
Chapter 5. STI Higher Education and Universities in Korea
Chapter 6. STI Higher Education and Universities in Lao PDR
Chapter 7. STI in Agriculture Sector during Korea’s Structural Transformation Period
Chapter 8. STI in Biotechnology Sector during Korea’s High-Tech Development Period
Chapter 9. STI in Agriculture and Biotechnology Sectors in Lao PDR
Chapter 10. Capacity Development Process
Chapter 11. Conclusion