One of the major challenges facing developing countries is to attain high levels of competitiveness in all areas in order to effect the necessary transformation of their production structures. Technological development and innovation are identified as key factors in the attempt to meet this challenge. In many ways technology, in the broadest sense, has become a sine qua non for attaining and
maintaining competitiveness, which is itself considered one of the imperatives of successful industrial development. Similarly, in the Caribbean, science and technology are identified as core components of the development process. While technological development and its link to competitiveness has long been recognised, countries of the Caribbean, like
most developing countries, depend on technology transfer more than technological development for their needs. The often-cited reason is that a particular problem of developing countries is the lack of finance needed for endogenous research for technological development. There exist, therefore, a number of programmes promoting technology transfer from developing countries. While some countries have been able to take
advantage of these transfers and benefit from them, the overall record of technology transfer to developing countries has not been promising. The results suggest that there is no real substitute for indigenous technology generation to augment imported technologies. In addition, technology and technological innovation are generally preceded by the development of a scientific orientation within society. Together these form the basis of the traditional science and technology system that has contributed to the success of the industrialisation effort in many countries.
An analysis of science and technology policies in the subregion do not seem to deviate much from the long-established model of externally-propelled development. Whether in finance or know-how, the emphasis continues to be on how to lure resources into the subregion, with minimal indigenous investment. Hence the policies have focussed on incentives to foreign investors rather than on research and development and
indigenous capacity building. In so doing policies have ignored, to a large extent, the agricultural base of the economy and the institutions and investments needed to transform that base from raw materials to value-added products. There is therefore an urgent need for programmes that would develop simple and accessible rule-of-thumb approaches for policy formulation and implementation which would facilitate development and establishment of robust and effective policies.