This report, published by OECD, aims to inform policy makers and analysts on recent and future changes in global science, technology and innovation (STI) patterns and their potential implications on and for national and international STI policies. Based on the most recent data available, the report provides comparative analysis of new policies and instruments being used in OECD countries and a number of major emerging economies to boost the contribution of science and innovation to growth and to global and social challenges.
Chapter 1. Megatrends affecting science, technology and innovation
In the first chapter, this report explores how global megatrends related to different topics (Figure 1) are affecting science, technology and innovation. Ageing societies, climate change, health challenges and growing digitisation are, among other factors, expected to shape future R&D agendas and the scope and scale of future innovation demand.
Chapter 2. Future technology trends
The STI Outlook identifies 40 key and emerging technologies (Figure 2) for the future and further discusses 10 of them, which are considered among the most promising and potentially disruptive (Figure 3).
- Additive Manufacturing (commonly known as 3D printing): Progressively adding material to make a product take shape is an unprecedented approach to manufacturing that warrants new business models and implies significant changes to existing industries
- Advanced Energy Storage Technologies: systems that absorbs energy and stores it for a period of time before releasing it on demand to supply energy or power services.
- Artificial Intelligence: the endowment of machines with reasoning capabilities which is likely to bring considerable productivity gains and lead to irreversible changes in our society.
- Big Data Analytics: a major policy challenge will be to balance the need for openness with the threats that an extreme “datafication’ of social life could raise for privacy, security, equity and integrity.
- Blockchain: allowing the transfer of value within computer networks, this technology could disrupt several markets by ensuring trustworthy transactions without the necessity of a third party.
- Internet of Things (IoT): despite its great potential to support human, societal and environmental development, several safeguards need to be put in place to ensure data protection and security.
- Micro and Nano Satellites: through the use of small and very small satellites with growing capabilities, policy makers can expand their spectrum of sophisticated tools to addresss “grand” challenges for both civilian and defence purposes.
- Nanomaterials: their unique optical, magnetic and electrical properties can be exploited in various fields, from healthcare to energy technologies, taking into account technical constraints and uncertainties over their toxicity to humans and the environment.
- Neurotechnologies: despite their great promise in diagnosis and therapy for healthy ageing and general human enhancement, they raise profound ethical, legal, social and cultural issues that require policy attention.
- Synthetic Biology: allowing for the design and construction of new biological parts and the re-design of natural biological systems, this field is expected to have a wide range of application in health, agriculture, industry and energy.
Chapter 3. The future of science systems
This chapter focuses on public research systems and the potential shifts that are likely to experience over the next 10-15 years. While public research systems have their own specific trend dynamics, they are also affected by wider changes in economies and societies. It explores what these changes might mean for public sector research, raising some questions about its future related to funding and governance issues.
Chapter 4. Recent trends in national science and innovation policies
This chapter presents recent trends in national science and innovation policies across OECD member countries and major emerging economies, including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russian Federation and South Africa. It considers the economic and financial conditions that determine innovation behaviour and that currently shape the innovation policy agenda.