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Countries of Eastern Europe and South Caucasus discuss preliminary findings and recommendations of pilot UNECE Subregional Innovation Policy Outlook

Representatives from the six countries in Eastern Europe and South Caucasus (EESC) and international experts met to discuss the preliminary results and recommendations of UNECE’s Subregional Innovation Policy Outlook (IPO) at the second meeting of the IPO national focal points, this week in Geneva.

The Innovation Policy Outlook assesses the scope and quality of innovation policies, institutions, and processes. It is being carried out for the first time by UNECE hand-in-hand with EESC countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine) offering an exciting policy laboratory for further assessments of innovation policies in other UNECE subregions.

The IPO helps countries to identify strengths and weaknesses, to enlarge the evidence base for mutual policy learning, and to improve innovation policies, institutions and processes. The goal is to better harness innovation not only for increased competitiveness, but also to meet the ambitious sustainable development goals (SDGs), set out in the global 2030 Agenda.

“The IPO has been instrumental for leveraging the existing innovation potential of the EESC countries in new economic and social contexts”, said Igor Yegorov, National Academy of Science of Ukraine, one of the experts contributing to the meeting.

UNECE’s IPO methodology is unique in the way it complements results from other related composite indices, such as the Global Innovation Index (GII), by looking not only at innovation performance metrics, but also the central institutional and policy mechanisms that translate inputs to outputs - the intermediaries between the two. As evidenced by UNECE’s prior work on innovation, getting policies, processes and institutions right is essential for making the best use of scarce resources to meet the SDGs.

Commenting on the relevance of processes and institutions, Olga Tretiacov, Ministry of Education, Culture and Research of Moldova noted that “the IPO process contributed to greater multi-stakeholder co-ordination on innovation policy within the country“.

Given the prominence of innovation on government agendas and its crucial role for achieving the SDGs, EESC economies have demonstrated strong commitment towards innovation-led economic growth. They have also developed a number of good practices such as public sector innovations (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova), innovations in low-tech industries (Ukraine), fiscal incentives for innovation (Belarus) and early-stage financing of innovative firms (Georgia).

While recognizing these achievements, IPO preliminary findings also highlight areas where further action is required: governments need to have the means, incentives, and capacities to experiment with solutions and understand their impact. And, governments need to stop or modify what is not effective.

Initial recommendations discussed include:

  • Strengthening governance through better policy design and coordination;
  • Focusing policies and instruments more on the absorptive capacities of the private sector, access to finance for innovative projects, business-science linkages, and stimulating innovation demand through public procurement;
  • Upgrading and mainstreaming stakeholder engagement, transparency, and continuous, independent monitoring and evaluation.

As next steps, UNECE will integrate comments and feedback from the EESC countries and prepare the final version of the publication that will also undergo a review by external experts. The Innovation Policy Outlook will be published and launched at a high-level meeting in Geneva on 26-28 October 2020 and a series of national launches will follow.

For more information on UNECE’s IPOs, please, visit