Ross Sheil, Staff Reporter
UP TO 20 leading international experts have expressed an interest in joining the P.J. Patterson Institute of Science, Technology and Innovation to be launched in Kingston next January.
That's according to Professor Calestous Juma, of the J.F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, who proposed the regional centre to the retiring Prime Minister.
Professor Juma told The Gleaner recently that most of these experts were contributors to last year's United Nations report on the role of science in development which he co-authored.
He said they would be attached to the institute as fellows working on a pro-bono basis, happy to associate with the institution's aim of being an international hub for discussion on the role of technology in development.
"You have a lot of scholars who have done a lot of work in this field, but don't really have a home," he said. "Many people treated it as an honour and wrote to me saying, 'I would like to serve on the board', but we don't have one yet!"
Professor Juma previously established the African Institute for Technology Studies in 1988, based in Nairobi, Kenya, and also taught Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology, when he attended Harvard for a two-week science and innovation policy course in 2003.
Mr. Patterson agreed to lend his name to the institution, but has not as yet been engaged on whether he would like to be patron.
Professor Juma reasoned that, as a former Prime Minister, Mr. Patterson would have international pull in attracting goodwill and funding for the institute.
At least two philanthropic foundations have so far agreed to source funding needed to meet the institute's estimated annual costs of US$2 to US$3 million. Professor Juma said the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and the United Nations Development Programme are also interested to involve themselves in the institute.
A location for the centre is soon to be announced, either at the University of Technology or the University of the West Indies, Mona. A launch for the institute is provisionally scheduled for May, together with accompanying lectures.
Functions of the institute
Research: the institute will compile best practices in using technology for development from other countries.
Convey them to policy makers and private sector leaders during high-level week-long training courses.
Policy outreach by lectures and through a flagship periodical report called the Patterson Report. This will also be published online through the institute's website.