Thu, Dec 27, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Spending on R&D increasing steadily, minister says

GROWTH The National Science Council deputy minister said Taiwan can maintain its competitive edge in the market by staying on top of global technological fields


The nation's expenditure on science and innovation is increasing steadily with a goal of spending 3 percent of GDP on research and development by 2010, National Science Council (NSC) deputy minister Yang Hung-duen (楊弘敦) said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The council revealed the results of its investigation into Taiwan's expenditure on science research and development (R&D) for last year, Yang told the media.

The meeting discussed the council's nanotechnology development plan, as well as a proposal of its energy development plan.

"In 2006, the country's R&D expenditure was NT$307 billion, a 9.3 percent increase from 2005's NT$281 billion," he said, adding that the current expenditure is 2.58 percent of GDP.

A total of 67 percent of the funds came from businesses and 31 percent from the government, he said, adding that the figures showed a decrease in public expenditure and increase in private-sector spending, "which is healthy."

"Science and technology innovations are the engine that drives a country's economy," Yang said. "By staying on top of the international technological field, Taiwan can maintain its competitive edge."

"The GDP percentage increase is meaningful in that many of the current advanced countries, including those in the EU, are making it a goal to increase their science R&D expenditure in terms of a percentage of GDP," Yang said.

The goal to reach 3 percent by 2010 is "ambitious," NSC Office For Energy Strategy Development director Yang Jing-tang (楊鏡堂) said.

"The goal would be hard to achieve without the support of the private sector," he said, adding that business contribution incentives may be vital for their participation.

In terms of the NSC's nanotechnology advancements, Wu Maw-kuen (吳茂昆), director of the Institute of Physics at Academia Sinica, said development was proceeding in two stages, the first of which stretched from 2003 to 2009.

"Planning has begun for the second stage of nano development," Wu said, adding that, "the future focus would be on renewable energies, biomedical technology and energy conservation."

Echoing Wu that energy conservation is the future, Yang said the meeting also reached an important consensus on the topic.

"The original plan to pass an energy technology plan on a national scale has been postponed," he said.

He also said that it will be delayed "until the Office for Energy Strategy Development can provide more concrete information as to what each sector in the nation can do to meet the Cabinet's goal to reduce carbon emissions to 2000 levels by 2025."

"The council members asked the office to offer at least two viable plans within the next three months," Yang said.

Agreeing with an Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) official's comment earlier this month, Yang said: "Though the EPA greenhouse gas reduction proposal was not passed by the legislature, carbon reduction is not an issue of debate."

"Regardless of political `colors,' implementing policies and programs in the anti-global warming effort should be on [all lawmakers'] must-do list," he said.

"[For example], it is our job in the NSC, as scientists, to make an engine that uses minimal fuel," he said.

"However, for a consumer to make the conscious choice to carpool with others to work, that involves education," he said.

"The NSC has started devising strategies to meet the Cabinet's carbon reduction goals," he said, "But to succeed every Taiwanese should shoulder their responsibility in the effort."

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