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The commonly held idea that developing countries need to catch up economically with the Western world before they consider investing in their own research and development (R&D) has been questioned by a report released last week (14 December).

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) 'Science, Technology and Industry Outlook 2010' says that "increasingly, countries as diverse as China, South Africa, Indonesia and Vietnam are developing broad-based innovation strategies that encompass existing and new technologies, as well as social innovations".

Mario Cervantes, a senior economist in the OECD's science and technology division said: "There is a more global and pragmatic approach to science, technology and innovation (ST&I) development in emerging countries than there was".

In the past this was based only on technology transfer between the developed world and poor countries. Now, however, fast-growing developing countries are also helping the less well-off to develop their ST&I.

This increasing South–South cooperation is "is hastening the ability of developing countries to innovate, to face global challenges including energy supplies and climate change, and to fight against poverty," said Cervantes.

Link to full article in Nature

Link to 'The OECD Science, Technology and Innovation Outlook 2010' report