By: Carla Almeida and Luisa Massarani


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Jamaica is to host a regional institute devoted to promoting science and technology as tools for social and economic development, according to plans announced last week (17 February).

The P. J. Patterson Institute of Science, Technology and Innovation is named after Jamaica's current prime minister, who will be its patron when he retires from politics.

It will open in January 2007, and focus on identifying practical ways to promote the use of science, technology and innovation in development.

Among the institute's first activities will be a course on science and innovation policy for senior public officials and business leaders.

The institute is expected to operate within an international network of similar bodies, and share its information with the developing world, says Calestous Juma of Harvard University, United States, who suggested the idea.

He says developing countries are starting to recognise the importance of science and technology, but need support to develop and implement research policies.

"I see this as the first in a series of like-minded institutions designed to promote high-level policy support for the application of science, technology and innovation in development," adds Juma.

Local universities and academics worldwide have already expressed interest in working with the institute.

The institute's budget is still being discussed and a network of foundations is working to secure funding for specific research activities.