A quick glance back through the history of some of the most rapidly developing countries of the 19th and 20th centuries will show that technology played a huge role in the economic march of nearly all these territories. Beginning with the industrial revolution in Britain and spreading West and then East to what would become the industrial behemoths of The United States and Japan, technology was crucial to the economic and political growth of all three countries on the world stage.
But what about today? Is the role of technology still as significant when it comes to a nation’s development, both economically and politically? Experts would argue that it is and that the route out of the current economic crisis will be mapped with the help of technology and innovation centers across the globe.
One of the most crucial precursors to any technological development is research and in this area Britain has always been one of the strongest players in the field. However, the country has, in the past, lost points for failing to capitalize on this research and turn scientific findings into profit- making businesses. In countries where there is a real focus on bridging the gap between research and industry, both public sector support and local business investment have ensured that new discoveries and innovation become more than just academic works published in scientific journals.
The role of technology in countries like South Korea and Taiwan can be likened to an economic steam engine, powering both nations forward and ensuring that the benefits filter down to their citizens in terms of job creation and (in general) better standards of living.
By comparison it would seem that the lack of national strategy and focus on innovation is causing Britain to lag seriously behind, meaning that the workforce is ill suited to the demands of industry and that overseas investment is not encouraged. A new approach is needed if this trend is to be bucked, one that appreciates the role of technology and indeed the importance of technology in economic stabilization followed by significant growth. With investment in dedicated innovation centers the UK should be more than capable of bridging the gap between research and industry and turning academic expertise and scientific leadership into a profitable enterprise. This will help to inoculate the economy against an over-reliance on some of the more volatile industries and encourage overseas investment on a scale that would make a real difference to future generations of educated young Britons.