Remarks by Angel Gurría,
15 March 2016
(As prepared for delivery)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here today to celebrate human progress driven by science, a theme dear to the OECD.
Today we welcome not only the opening of the CERN exhibition “Accelerating Science”, but also the inauguration of the Nature Research Centre and the Joint Centre for Physical Science and Technology.
The "Accelerating Science" exhibition offers us a voyage across time and space to investigate the mysteries of the universe. The exhibition itself will travel across Europe, allowing citizens of all countries to learn about the particles that are the building blocks of all matter.
The open and collaborative nature of this exhibition illustrates the core values of CERN, which are shared by the OECD. Like CERN, the OECD is a world-leading institution advancing human knowledge through international research projects. International collaboration almost doubled over two decades to approach 20% of all scientific publications in 2013, but it can and should develop further. This is why the OECD places so much importance on fostering collaboration in the area of science and innovation policy.
This exhibition is a reminder of how crucial fundamental research is. Not only to improve our understanding of the universe, but also because such research often translates into better lives for people. Let me recall that both the World Wide Web and hadron therapy for cancer are by-products of research at CERN!
The opening of two new centres today is an example of how Lithuania is supporting such research. The Nature Research Centre will be a modern facility for research in biotechnology and molecular medicine while the Joint Centre for Physical Science and Technology merges existing labs in the areas of laser technologies, nanotechnologies and nuclear physics. Lithuania is on the right path with its commitment to public research, but state-of-the-art centres like these will provide an opportunity to advance further. They can become places where the public sector collaborates with business to better commercialise research. This may help to raise spending on R&D, which at just 1% of GDP in Lithuania is less than half the OECD average. The new centres can also strengthen Lithuania’s participation in international science networks. And they can contribute to raising awareness about research, demonstrating the value of science in every-day life.
The OECD is proud to partner Lithuania in this journey towards knowledge-based growth. The forthcoming OECD Review of Lithuania’s Innovation Policy will foster this co-operation while helping to pave the way for Lithuania’s accession to the Organisation.
Please therefore join me in wishing all the best to these newly-established research centres. May their research contribute to the progress of our societies!