Transiting knowledge in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam
EU-funded researchers are working with counterparts in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam to help all three Southeast Asian nations boost their transition economies, among the fastest growing in the world, by developing local skills and putting knowledge into practice.
© kintarapong #220929917, source: adobe.stock.com 2019
University research and knowledge are key assets for any society. But applying that knowledge and skill can be tricky in countries such as Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam whose economies are in transition.
At around 7 % in recent years, their annual growth rates are among the fastest in the world. Studying how to harness knowledge to support development and create long-term prosperity in all three countries is among the key goals of the EU-funded IKID project.
The idea is relatively straightforward but complex in execution given, in part, the shift from central to market-oriented economies. That same shift, however, also presents an opportunity.
The transition setting provides unique momentum for advancing the regulations and institutions in those countries so that knowledge-based development is supported, says IKID project coordinator Aaro Hazak, a professor at the Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia.
The increased use of knowledge during a transitional phase of economic development is key to long-term sustainability and prosperity, Hazak adds. He notes it also means institutional support focused, for example, on curbing corruption or shedding unnecessary bureaucracy.
IKID has held a number of research seminars, training events, and paper discussions to come up with tailor-made strategies. Project participants, using economic data, explored how to get people with the right skills to contribute towards knowledge development. All was underpinned by drawing on past experiences of transitional economies in Central and Eastern Europe.
Hazak says the Estonian experience of reforms in the 1990s provided essential insight into how to align institutions to support innovation, modern technology and top-notch skills.
It provides ample learning opportunities for the Southeast Asian countries in transition, he says, noting that IKID builds on the cooperation of economists and legal scholars.
That cooperation extends into Switzerland, whose knowledge economy ranks among the best in the world. The lessons from Central and Eastern Europe coupled with those from Switzerland via the University of Lausanne have led to the creation of an essential toolbox for Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
The future is bright
The hope is that the lessons learned through IKID will help advance and promote key regulations and institutions in all three countries so that knowledge-based development is strongly supported.
By enhancing institutions that promote international trade and investment opportunities, as well as creating a more environmentally friendly business setting, IKIDs impact could have global dimensions.
In addition to the research outcomes and policy implications resulting from the project, development of a mindset of European-Asian academic cooperation and excellence-oriented research is key, says Hazak.
Such excellence is already being achieved. For example, the National University of Laos, an IKID partner, recently launched a PhD programme in economics.
Its scholars, who developed their research skills during secondments to the University of Lausanne and the Tallinn University of Technology under IKID, are now able to share their knowledge with doctoral students.
IKID received funding through the EUs Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions programme.