Plans in the Lebanon to invest more heavily in science, technology and innovation aim to boost the country's economic performance, reports SciDev.Net. Lebanese partners are participating in EU-funded projects in a range of research areas.
The Lebanon plans to spend, over the next five years, €26 million (50 million Lebanese pounds) on science, technology and innovation in an effort to promote education, research centres and stronger scientific partnerships between institutions and industry, reports Nature-run web news service SciDev.Net.
|The Lebanon plans to boost its science fundamentals.|
© Web source
The new science plan, launched on 27 April, aims to increase the number of science graduates and postgraduate training opportunities. Funding will also go towards the creation of new research centres and schemes to develop industry-research ties.
Among the priority research areas identified are biotechnology for health and agriculture, information and communication technologies, coastal and marine resource management, water and energy-related investigations, as well as software able to use Arabic script.
According to a statement, the plan also calls for the setting up of a science, technology and innovation observatory to watch over progress. The plan was developed with assistance from the United Nations and the Arab League. The funds and plan should help provide the direction and environment for developing the Lebanon's economy and society, while creating more skilled jobs centred around science and technology.
“The plan will boost efforts to link research to [the] Lebanon's basic economic needs and will establish partnerships between the private and public sectors,” Ahmad Nasri, professor of computer science at the American University in Beirut, is quoted as saying. What's more, it should also help strengthen the Middle-Eastern country's participation in regional and international networks in science, technology and innovation, he added.
Arab League support for the plan comes on the back of an announcement in March that the 22-nation bloc plans to collaborate more closely on research in the region, calling on Arab nations to increase their research capacity, and for policy-makers to promote better quality science, and to encourage public-private research partnerships.
The Lebanon is also participating in several Sixth Framework Programme projects covering such topics as water, agriculture and the health sector, particularly aimed at child victims of war. One project funded in FP6's International Co-operation (INCO) scheme, called EuroMEDANet 2, aims to increase participation of researchers from Mediterranean countries in the European research programme.