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Switzerland pursues globalisation of science

Charles Kleiber wants Switzerland to become a global player in scientific research Keystone Archive

Switzerland wants to strengthen international scientific cooperation within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

This content was published on January 28, 2004 - 23:05

A Swiss delegation, headed by interior minister Pascal Couchepin, is putting forward the country's views at the OECD annual meeting in Paris.

Science and technology ministers and senior officials from more than 30 countries are meeting at the OECD's headquarters to discuss the increasing globalisation of science.

The two-day meeting, which started on Thursday, focuses on policies to improve links between public and private research, and on the role of science and technology in responding to global challenges including security and safety.

“The goal is not to make decisions,” the state secretary for science and research, Charles Kleiber, told swissinfo.

“It’s more about finding out about innovations, which will then be put into practice by the individual governments.”

Innovation

Innovation is one of the themes of this year's meeting, and one of the key questions is how society can benefit from scientific research.

Delegates are trying to find ways of improving cooperation between the science sector and the economy.

The interior minister, Pascal Couchepin, has repeatedly said he wants to promote new information technology for archiving and distributing the huge amount of data collected through worldwide research into the workings of the brain.

Switzerland hopes to become a major player in the field.

“The globalisation of science is much more advanced than the globalisation of the economy,” Kleiber said.

"Soft" globalisation

“This is 'soft' globalisation, which is based on sharing information. This phenomenon has existed for a long time but it is becoming increasingly important,” he added.

Kleiber referred to the various scientific papers Swiss researchers publish in science magazines. Nowadays, he said, more than two fifths of Swiss scientific research is done in cooperation with other countries.

“Science has become more global and that is good,” Kleiber said. "But at the same time it’s important that it keeps its local roots.

“We need scientific culture. Research becomes culture if it tells us about society – no matter whether you are a cosmopolitan or Swiss.”

Priorities

Kleiber does not think federal funding cuts will have a negative impact on scientific research.

“Swiss researchers can consider themselves lucky as the Swiss government and parliament have spoken out in favour of science and said it was one of their priorities,” he explained.

Over the next four years, Switzerland is due to increase its budget for education, scientific research and technology by an annual 4.5 per cent.

swissinfo, Marc-André Miserez (translation: Billi Bierling)

In brief

Twenty countries originally signed the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development on December 14, 1960.

Since then a further ten countries have become members.

The OECD’s vocation has been to build strong economies in its member countries, improve efficiency, expand free trade and contribute to development in industrialised as well as developing countries.

The OECD's forerunner was the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC), which was formed to administer American and Canadian aid under the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe after the Second World War.

The meeting of the science and technology ministers takes place in Paris from January 29 to 30.

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