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The Argentinian government recognises that innovation is a key source of growth and currently concentrates its efforts in several areas.
Hot Issues are major national STI policy priorities, as self-reported by countries in their responses to the OECD STIO 2014 policy questionnaire.
Innovation to contribute to addressing social challenges (including inclusiveness)
Argentina focuses on resolving the challenges of social exclusion. The Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation (MINCYT) has made addressing social challenges a priority in its guidelines for the development of the country’s innovation system. In 2009, MINCYT created Argentinian Sectoral Fund (FONARSEC), a fund mainly financed by grants from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, which also supports innovation initiatives that foster social inclusion.
Improving the coordination of and participation to the governance
Many public bodies are involved in Argentina’s STI system. MINCYT, with a budget of USD 1 443 million (ARS 4 994 million) in 2013, has a central role in managing innovation investments and R&D institutions. Agencies such as the National Research Council (CONICET) and the National Agency for the Promotion of Science and Technology (ANPCYT) distribute government grants for research. The Evaluation and Quality Assurance Unit (UEAC) of the National Agency for the Promotion of Science and Technology and the National Directorate of Programmes and Projects of the Undersecretary of Institutional Evaluation conduct evaluations with a view to quality assurance. To improve co-ordination, MINCYT’s allocation of resources has been progressively aligned over the last five years with policies from other ministries and agencies through the Scientific and Technological Cabinet (GACTEC), an inter-ministerial body in charge of formulating S&T policy. The Federal Council on Science and Technology (COFECYT) acts as an advisory board for maintaining policy coherence among federal, provincial and local governments, and for safeguarding regional interests in MINCYT’s allocation of resources. In March 2013, MINCYT presented its national STI strategic plan, Argentina Innovadora 2020, which seeks to optimise and articulate the country’s public and private STI efforts.
Sectoral funds constitute the backbone of Argentina’s S&T policy. Most of ANPCYT’s budget focuses on the strategic knowledge areas and business sectors identified in the Argentina Innovadora 2020 plan. FONSOFT is a trust fund to support ICT, in which Argentina hopes to develop a comparative advantage. The FONARSEC fund supports development of target technologies (e.g. bio- and nano-technology) and sectors (e.g. energy, health and agro-industry).
Improving overall human resources, skills and capacity building
Argentina spent 1.47% of GDP on tertiary education in 2011, a level close to the OECD median (Panel 1s). However, performance of 15-year-olds in science is well below the OECD median (Panel 1v) and points to shortcomings in the quality of education. The share of doctoral graduates in S&E is also well below the OECD median (Panel 1w). To improve the supply of human resources for STI, two programmes, Becas Bicentenario and Becas TICs, provide up to 30 000 scholarships a year for tertiary education for low-income students. CONICET funds domestic doctoral programmes and post-doctoral training and provides grants to support knowledge transfer between universities and the private sector. The government also has programmes targeting Argentina’s diaspora. Since its inception in 2004, more than 1 000 scientists had returned to Argentina as part of the RAICES programme as of 2013. These efforts have led to an increased supply of younger researchers, with the share of researchers under 40 rising from 41% in 2003 to nearly 48% in 2011. Furthermore, to improve the performance of Argentina researchers, ANPCYT’s PITEC and PAE programmes support public-private partnerships in research projects aimed at increasing the contribution of research to Argentina’s economy, including addressing pressing socio-economic challenges.
In addition to efforts to improve the skills base described above, MINCyT has invested in the country’s R&D infrastructure needs. In 2013, as part of its Work Plan for Science and Technology, four new buildings of a total 11 122 square metres of R&D infrastructure, including the new headquarters for the national DNA databank and nanotechnology offices and laboratories, were completed. This represents a 17% increase in R&D surface compared to 2007.
With BERD of 0.16% of GDP in 2012, well below the OECD median (Panel 1d), Argentina lags far behind the OECD in innovation performance, triadic patents (Panel 1f) and trademark registrations (Panel 1g). To improve innovation performance, government programmes target key knowledge areas and sectors to improve the quality of human capital for research and innovation and the articulation between public research and industry.
Argentina’s Internet infrastructure and use is below OECD levels (Panel 1l, m, n). Some 10.9% of Argentinians had a fixed broadband subscription, a higher share than in Brazil (9.2%) but below that of Chile (12.4%). About 21% of Argentina’s inhabitants are wireless broadband subscribers, leading Mexico (10.8%), but trailing Brazil (37.3%). Argentina’s e-government development index is still low with respect to the OECD median.
Clusters and regional policies
The government aims to reduce the regional gap in STI capacity by increasing share of GERD performed by the 19 least R&D-intensive provinces from 28% in 2011 to 37% in 2020. COFECYT disbursed USD 38 million (ARS 113 million) in 2012 to work towards this goal.
International co-authorship of scientific publications is close to the OECD median (Panel 1q). International co-patenting (Panel 1r) is considerably above the OECD median. More generally, the government seeks to foster international co-operation in S&T. To this end, it has established partnerships and recently increased the number of co-operative projects and programmes with Brazil, Chile, Mexico, the United States and Canada as well as France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy.
Argentina spent 0.74% of GDP on R&D in 2012, considerably below the OECD median. The government finances the majority of GERD (0.48% of GDP), and its contribution grew by 15.2% a year over 2007-12, marginally faster than the overall annual growth of GERD (14.6%) over the same period. While low compared to the OECD median, Argentina’s public R&D spending at 0.57% of GDP (Panel 1a) is higher than that of Chile (0.14%) or Mexico (0.25%). BERD stood at 0.16% of GDP and grew moderately compared to 2004 (0.14%). MINCyT is currently evaluating the means of measuring private R&D; preliminary results indicate that BERD may have been somewhat underestimated.