Archive for February, 2007

S&T network for developing countries

February 17, 2007

UNCTAD launched an initiative in 2005 to set up a network of centres of excellence on science and technology in developing countries, as announced at a meeting of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development in May. The Italian Government expressed his willingness to initially fund this project with a US$500,000 grant. 

Existing centres of excellence that already possess adequate infrastructure and critical mass in their scientific and technological R&D work will be selected for inclusion in the network. There are currently over 100 science and technology institutions. The idea is to turn the centres of excellence into regional hubs that can conduct joint research in areas of importance to developing countries, reversing the negative impact of “brain drain” by producing researchers able to tackle their countries´ challenges.

The network should also enhance the capacity of developing countries to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 

Source: INSME, Italy

Parkes – a lesson for other towns

February 15, 2007

Did you see the riveting TV program on the Elvis Festival at Parkes NSW, where a couple of local councilors took tentative steps 5 or so years ago to establish an annual Elvis Presley Festival? In the face of much cynicism, they have succeeded – in early 2007 they drew in excess of 6,000 patrons to see the Elvis Street Parade, the Elvis in the Park festivities, the Elvis Gospel Church Service etc.

It would not have happened without the efforts of a dogged few champions.  They have obviously tapped a groundswell of curiosity and sympathy from folk living on the seaboard who generally have no reason to travel inland in the baking summer. It also raises the question of what’s holding other towns back from doing something off the wall? The Wangaratta Jazz Festival, the Thredbo Jazz Festival, the Goulburn Blues Music Festival have each had varied success. The Noosa Film Festival came and went.

I’ve often wondered why Lakes Entrance (Victoria) doesn’t develop a Seafood Festival as part of an image-building exercise. And why can’t some of the gourmet food trails be upgraded, instead of the embarrassing efforts on offer? And how can we involve, on a bigger scale, the corporations and banks that depend on rural economies for their revenues?  Of course, you need the committed champions to ensure that these collaborative efforts don’t die a natural death.

Perhaps we need to get the involvement of Peter Kenyon, the long-standing community builder who travels widely. His Bank of Ideas organisation (based in WA) looks the goods. Go to

World Bank study – entrepreneurship and firm formation

February 15, 2007

A new World Bank report examines trends in business start-ups and entrepreneurship across 84 countries.

The rates of new business entry average 7-9% across developing countries and 10% in industrialized economies. In the latter, service sector firms dominate. In developing economies, retail/trade, finance, insurance, and real estate firms dominate. Entrepreneurship is positively correlated with national economic growth, and efforts to ease business registration procedures have the logical effect of facilitating start-ups.

Go to Entrepreneurship and Firm Formation Across Countries Source: National Dialogue on Entrepreneurship