Centres of Excellence? Questions of Capacity for Innovation, Sustainability, Development

Working Paper
  • Published 01/10/09
  • ISBN: 978 1 85864 780 0

This paper explores what ‘mainstream’ Centres of Excellence might mean for developing countries and poor people. It examines how development is constructed as economic growth with industry and enterprise – complemented by centres of scientific excellence and technological innovation – as its key engine. It demonstrates that, in relation to science and centres of excellence, the discourse of networking and partnerships assumes that all interested parties evaluate progress, development and excellence similarly.

The paper critically reviews the core notions of ‘excellence’, ‘centres’ and ‘capacity’, highlighting some alternative models of research, innovation and training. It argues that science and technology should not only address the principles of economic growth and excellence; but that broader principles should underlie capacity-building for science, technology and innovation. These principles direct the focus onto who benefits (and who is excluded) from science and technology, by highlighting the ‘3Ds’ of Directionality (towards specific Sustainability objectives); equitable Distribution (of costs, risks, benefits), and Diversity (of socio-techno-ecological systems)?