|Why Asian Dynamics?|
The 2003/2004 country list of the top-spenders in Asia and the European Union on R&D (in percentage of GDP) reveals that Europe and Asia stand on equal footing (see table below). Janez Potocnik, the European Commissioner for Research, predicts that, with current trends, China will catch up in R&D expenditure of GDP with the EU 25 countries already within 4-5 years.
What factors lie behind this “new Asian miracle”? It is no longer abundance of cheap and unskilled labour. Competing internationally in science and technology requires professionalism, resourceful institutions of higher education, heavy investments in modern laboratories and a quest for attaining world-class competence in fields of strategic importance for future economic growth.
Figures published in February 2006 by the World Intellectual Property Organization show that four countries in Asia had the highest growth rates of international patents in the world between 2003 and 2005—China 89 %, Korea 61 %, Singapore 55 % and Japan 45 %. Six years ago, Korea decided on a massive investment plan “to become a world-leading country by 2010”. A few months ago, Singapore announced further large public investments to bring the R&D intensity up to 3,0 percent in five years. A few weeks ago, China announced its new 15-year plan for R&D with “home-grown innovations” as the principal focus. At the same time, India is moving beyond business outsourcing to become the most sought after destination in the world for R&D and knowledge process outsourcing in ICTs, biotech and pharmaceuticals.
In Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, as in other parts of Europe, a growing amount of research is carried out on science and technology developments in Asia. As our own countries are small, and the continuing success of our economies is dependent upon understanding global forces and opportunities, it makes good sense at this stage to make a joint Nordic effort to create a critical mass that can contribute to further strengthening the field.