strategy

Developing frontier technology

Synonyms:
Blending technologies
Blending new and traditional technology
Integrating traditional and new technologies
Integrating new technology
Context:
Frontier technology is seen as having considerable potential in alleviating poverty. One approach to applying such technology in developing countries has been described as "technology blending" - a technique whereby modern biotechnology, photovoltaics, laser applications, space satellite communications, new materials science and microelectronic innovations are combined with, rather than replace completely, the techniques and procedures found in village economies, SME manufacturers, the urban informal sector, agribusiness and small-holder agriculture.
Implementation:
One approach to applying frontier technology in developing countries has been described as "technology blending" - a technique whereby emerging technology - experiments have included modern biotechnology, photovoltaics, laser applications, space satellite communications, new materials science and microelectronic innovations - is constructively combined with, rather than replaces completely, the techniques and procedures found in low-income, small-scale economic activities in developing countries, such as village economies, SME manufacturers, the urban informal sector, agribusiness and small-holder agriculture. The importance is that the emerging technology should blend with and preserve at least some of the prevailing traditional production techniques. The original impetus for investigating technology blending came from the former United Nations Advisory Committee on Science and Technology.

Technology blending is distinct from appropriate technology in that, compared with the latter, blending is likely to: (a) require greater investment per workplace created; (b) involve a larger leap in terms of skills; (c) require more imported technology. Whether technology blends work well depends on the technologies used and the circumstances in which they are used. In the context of technology capacity-building, in order for "blending" to contribute to technological dynamism, the blends must provide the basis for local innovation by seeking other feasible applications, adaptation to local situations and further improvements and refinements.

Most initiatives with technology blending are in early stages of planning or implementation so that evaluation is not yet readily available. The data available suggests that although some technology blending efforts have run into difficulties and some involve trade-offs between gains and losses in meeting various goals, the incidence of clear-cut successes would appear to warrant more vigorous experimentation and increased efforts to alert the scientific and technological community to them, as well as calling the attention of developing country decision-makers to the potential benefits flowing from a marriage of indigenous and high technology.

Advocates of integrating indigenous technical knowledge (ITK) focus on two approaches to the study of ITK. The first approach considers the study of ITK to involve interpreting and empirically analysing the validity of local agro-ecological beliefs and practices in terms of the conceptual apparatus of western agricultural science and economics. The second approach considers that the cross-cultural study of ecological belief systems necessarily challenges the conceptual apparatus of western agricultural science.

Subjects:
Folk traditions
Frontiers
Technology
Development
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies