Previous Fora / 2003

Knowledge based economy

World Science Forum - Budapest

Knowledge and Society

8-10 November 2003



Some of the present versions of the session summaries are working material. The finalised versions will be posted at the Forum’s homepage on the web.


Knowledge-based Economy

  1. In today’s knowledge-based economy (KBE) knowledge is the main driving force of long-term, sustainable development; it is the main factor of competitiveness.

  2. The quality and quantity differences in access to and exploitation of knowledge is what divides societies. Therefore, one of the most important development challenges for institutions responsible for global governance is to accelerate accessibility and facilitate the affordability of knowledge in order to reduce the global knowledge divide.

  3. Due to technological revolution in information and communication technology (ICT), information has become easily accessible, reproducible and transferable. Information is, however, not equal to knowledge: knowledge has remained a long and costly process to create and to get access to.

  4. KBE’s specific features representing the external-environment societies, institutions and economic actors have to adjust to

    • the dramatically shrunk time and space;

    • the dramatically accelerated technological development;

    • the increasing R&D costs and diminished commercial life cycle of newly developed products and

    • the increasing importance of networks

    • necessitate a well-managed alliance between the providers of knowledge, the actors that exploit knowledge and the skillful people that participate in both processes.

  5. One of the most important challenges and opportunities for catching-up countries presented by the changed business environment is that the classical division of labor between more and less developed countries has changed. This provides an opportunity to break out from the development path that traditional dependency models suggest.

  6. The performance of this country group, just like that of developed economies, should not be assessed with the usual, simple “tangible” indicator” of GDP per capita. Future-oriented indicators have to be elaborated and utilized when analyzing performance. What is more, knowledge-based economies have to be analyzed with multi-disciplinary methods.

  7. The accumulation of knowledge as a production factor and a factor of competitiveness is different from any other accumulation processes economic history has ever witnessed. Knowledge being an unlimitedly renewable resource, it is subject to rapid changes the education system is expected to foresee when elaborating the curricula.

  8. Knowledge-economy requirements will compel a restructuring of EU budget. The present situation marked by a protection of national interest within the EU -- when half of the budget is aimed at financing common agricultural policy -- has to be radically and urgently changed.

  9. Without cross-border centers of excellence, EU will be not more than the sum of 25 countries. If this is the case, Lisbon targets will never be reached, and the US will be far ahead within a decade.

  10. The role of nation states has to be re-evaluated in knowledge-based economies. Their role in managing a public education system, and in determining the adequate mixture between social cohesion and competition have to be thoroughly analyzed, and where necessary, their competence should shift to upper (European) and to intermediate (regional) levels.

  11. When economic policy decision-makers emphasize that in KBE’s human capital and skilled people are the most important factors of competitiveness, they have to restructure and invest not only in the education system, but reform the regulation of and make additional long-term investments also in the institutions of the health care system.