Cambodia has urged increased collaboration in science and innovation among the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) member countries, describing it as of “key importance”.

Minister of Industry, Science Technology and Innovation Hem Vanndy issued the request as he led a delegation to last week’s Belt and Road Conference on Science and Technology Exchange in Chongqing, China.

A November 12 press release from the innovation ministry explained that the forum focused on exploring ways to strengthen collaboration and the introduction of new initiatives which will facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience among BRI members.

During his keynote address, Vanndy noted the crucial role science, technology and innovation play in development.

“We are stepping into a new era where science, technology and innovation form the bedrock of our future,” he said.

Acknowledging this shift, the government has tasked the innovation ministry with coordinating this sector, in partnership with all domestic and international stakeholders. Its goal is to establish a national innovation system, which aims to enhance productivity and economic development, thus improving people’s livelihoods.

Innovation is anticipated to be a pivotal contributor to addressing the critical challenges of climate change and poverty, he said.

“Attracting foreign direct investment in science, technology and innovation remains our priority as we garner support for small and medium enterprises and industry,” said Vanndy.

“We will utilise innovation to enhance infrastructure and support services, including laboratory services, assessment systems, accreditation standards and metrics, and ensure that the Kingdom’s products align with evolving market demands,” he added.

The ministry has laid out several policies and legal frameworks to facilitate the advancement of the country’s science, technology and innovation sectors. These include Cambodia’s Science, Technology and Innovation Roadmap 2030, the National Research Agenda 2025 (NRA), a draft Law on Technology Transfer and sub-decrees on research and development.

The press release added that several ASEAN member states have achieved notable progress in science, technology and innovation at the regional level, and the bloc holds considerable potential to foster scientific and technological advancement.

“Enhancing collaboration in science, technology and innovation between China and ASEAN is not just advantageous, but crucial for our shared future,” added Vanndy.

“These partnerships will enable us to address global challenges more effectively, promote sustainable development and secure a prosperous collective future for our people,” he said.

At the conference, Cambodia entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China titled “Joint Implementation of Special Programs for Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation”.

The agreement covers four key areas of collaboration: technology cooperation, sustainable development, innovation and entrepreneurship, and poverty reduction through science and technology, as well as geographical information through science and technology.

The ministry announced that the agreement reflects the shared aspirations of both sides to strengthen friendly relations and cooperation in the fields of science, technology and innovation, by encouraging practical, fruitful collaboration.