The Innovation and Technological Connectivity (ITC) Department responds to new opportunities related to implementing modernization in the GMS. It aims to narrow development gaps by strengthening technological connectivity.
Fast evolving technology, particularly information and communication technology (ICT), is now the norm of how the world works, and an everyday reality for many people. Current economic development literature argues that the ability to engage in innovation through collaboration and connectivity is now essential for countries to participate in today’s knowledge-driven, technology-based economies. This type of connectivity and access not only provides information but also attracts investment because it helps with the communication and networking now necessary to understand and respond to market needs.
In the GMS countries, however, access and the ability to utilize ICT remains limited, plus there are significant inequalities of accessibility between urban and rural dwellers. For example, there is yet to be wide spread adoption in the region of the types of ICT applications that have, in other parts of the world, proved very successful tools for developing and supporting farmer and SME inclusion in commercial supply chains. These limitations create a constraint on the potential success of other regional development initiatives. Another area of technological development that the GMS region has yet to fully explore and adopt is that of power trading and renewable energy. Finding the most effective ways to manage and maximize the use of precious environmental resources is a particularly pressing need for the region, not only to support the increase of economic growth but also to respond effectively to the challenges of climate change. Thus, the need for innovation that introduces and supports technological connectivity constitutes a new regional development theme, essential for the economic growth and prosperity of the GMS, the integration of CLMV countries into the AEC, and for the whole region to be part of the global community. MI recognizes that
In today’s complex world no issue, challenge, need or opportunity can be addressed successfully through a one-dimensional approach. Technology is now integral to and essential for the development of both agricultural and trade. For MI, the aim would be to support innovation and technological connectivity as the basis for new programs which link countries in the Mekong with each other and with others in ASEAN. It has been decided to establish a new program called ‘Innovation and Technological Connectivity’ (ITC). This program will both look at the issues in their own right, and on how to maximize opportunities that enhance the work of the other two programs. The focus will be on innovation and technological connectivity initiatives, in areas such as digital marketing, power trading, telecommunications, renewable energy, etc., and how these are interrelated and together can support GMS integration and competitiveness. It will also focus on creating the right atmosphere and circumstances for the development of innovation and technology in the region; supporting agricultural development and commercialization and trade and investment facilitation.
Issues under consideration:
- Technological connectivity to modernize the GMS economies, particularly those concerned with trade investment and facilitation and agricultural development and commercialization, for example how to technically connect farmers to markets, SME to trade opportunities, etc.;
- Innovations to address challenges in specific sectors such as in the GMS power and energy sector;
- Initiatives that promote access to modern sustainable energy, transportation including road corridors, and financial and communication services across the GMS;
- Mechanisms to draw together private and public partnerships to address technological connectivity in innovative ways;
- Capacity development for innovation and technology promotion policy;
- Support for formulation of an effective intellectual property regime;
- Responses to resiliency challenges such as climate change in the GMS through innovative mitigation efforts; and,
- Synchronization of relevant sectoral strategies and plans in the GMS. An additional area of development that MI will explore is the use of online technology for delivery of its capacity development services.