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An US$8 million research centre that will help Muslim countries set up effective science policies and national systems of innovation will be inaugurated tomorrow (12 July) in Pakistan.

The Technology and Innovation Policy Research Centre in Islamabad is an initiative of COMSTECH, the Organization of the Islamic Conference's (OIC) committee for scientific cooperation.

It will be staffed by scientists and economists with specialist knowledge of science policy who will provide training courses for students, government officials and policymakers from OIC countries.

The centre will also carry out science and innovation policy reviews for OIC countries and produce briefing papers for their policymakers and advisors.

Atta-ur-Rahman, Pakistan's minister for higher education and coordinator-general of COMSTECH, says scientific capacity building in the Muslim world should be driven by different policy instruments depending on the specific needs of individual countries and regions.

He points out that of the OIC's 57 members, only a few — including Egypt, Iran, Malaysia and Turkey — have national academies and research councils that can give their governments scientific advice.

Next month (19 August) COMSTECH will launch its Frontier Technologies Research Center, which will host scientific meetings and workshops about how biotechnology can be applied to problems of economic importance in OIC countries.

“[The centre] aims to provide Islamic countries’ biotechnologists with a platform where they can share and enhance their bio-knowledge together and develop collaborative research programmes,” says Atta-ur-Rahman.

He says a two-year workshop programme in nano-medicine, DNA vaccines, gene therapy, industrial biotechnology and the use of bioinformatics in genomics research has been already approved.