Scientific knowledge workshop recommendations
The objective of this expert mission was to provide a comprehensive overview
of the role of the public sector in establishing R&D policies as well as of
modern trends/approaches linking scientific research with industrial
The strengths and weaknesses of the Lebanese research and innovation system have
been known for a long time and have been highlighted in various documents such
as Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) for Lebanon prepared in
cooperation between the National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS) and
On the positive side, Lebanon is traditionally recognized for its human capital
and the entrepreneurship skills of its citizens. With 54 percent gross
enrollment rate in tertiary education, the country by far exceeds the 26 and 23
percent rate registered respectively for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)
region and for middle-income countries in general.
However, Lebanon has faced significant migration and brain drain: although the
country invests heavily in human capital, many of its best-trained people
migrate abroad. Financial capital is not lacking in Lebanon, but not enough
dedicated to research, innovation and entrepreneurship. The share of Lebanon’s
GDP devoted to R&D remains one of the lowest in the world. At this stage, only a
relatively small proportion of firms have a department specialized in R&D.
As a consequence, Lebanon underperforms as an innovator relative to its GDP per
capita. In the global innovation index rankings (2014), Lebanon comes at the
77th rank out of 143 countries despite a high ranking (23) in income. The
meeting organized by the Industrial Research Institute started by a presentation
of rationale, trends and outlook for science, technology and innovation
policies, illustrated by the example of the French innovation system and
policies. Detailed presentations were made on the acceleration of academic
technology transfer through the maturation process between the proof of concept
and the prototype, and on the
doctoral studies in France. Each presentation was followed by discussions on
what could be transposed to Lebanon and how, given the specificities of this
On the second day, representatives of local industries and academia presented
their experiences respectively in product development and industrially applied
research. They gave examples of good practice in knowledge transfer and public
private partnerships, and explained the problems they face because of legal,
economical or cultural barriers.
The exchanges which occurred during the meeting showed a broad consensus among
participants on the state and the challenges of the Lebanese research and
innovation system, as well on most of the following recommendations which can be
implemented at the government level or by research stakeholders (universities).
These recommendations concern various aspects of public policy: human resources,
public research, knowledge transfer, R&D and business innovation. Following them
will have a cost and take time, but they have proven effective where they have
• Human resources:
- Place more emphasis in universities on teaching activities likely to make
students become more innovative and entrepreneurial.
- In order to match academic curricula and the needs of industry, maintain an
information system to monitor changes in labour demand and education capacities;
establish a skills or qualification framework to support recruitment and enable
• Public research:
- Encourage more competitive allocation of public funding to universities and
public institutes, for research projects oriented on national priorities.
• Knowledge transfer:
- Establish in universities Offices of Technology Transfer (OTTs) dedicated to
identifying research which has potential commercial interest and strategies for
how to exploit it. The OTTs will also assist the research teams in preparing the
research contracts. Professionalise and offer adequate incentives to the
institutions and staff in charge of commercialisation: these are market
activities that require stakeholders to have the relevant qualifications and
experience and to
do their best to respond to the market.
- Develop in universities communication activities directed towards the
potential industrial partners, in order to promote the research performed in
universities and the opportunities of technology transfer.
- Offer more incentives to universities so that researchers will turn towards
commercialisation rather than confine themselves solely to scientific
publications. This means including transfer indicators in researchers’ career
- Develop public-private partnerships through staff mobility with a scheme
similar to the French CIFRE (Conventions Industrielles de Formation par la
Recherche), which allow doctoral students to be hired by companies to prepare
their PhDs in house, with a close academic supervision.
• R&D and business innovation:
- Implement tax incentives like research tax credit, in order to encourage
Lebanese companies to invest in R&D and international firms to locate R&D
centers in Lebanon