Developing public sector capabilities to deliver more ambitious STI policy will become an increasingly significant concern. For instance, increased policy emphasis on building resilience, which calls for policy agility, highlights the need for dynamic capabilities to adapt and learn in the face of rapidly changing environments. Governments will need to prepare more effectively for future shocks, assessing developments around key uncertainties and their implications for STI. It will be important to engage stakeholders and citizens in these efforts, in order to capture a diversity of knowledge and values.
Many key uncertainties will persist over the coming months and years, shaping the threats that research and innovation systems face, and the contributions they can make to solving societies’ grand challenges. Policymakers can benefit from using a structured framework to systematically monitor the evolution of the crisis and its impacts from an STI policy perspective (see figure). When combined with regular indicators-based monitoring, such a framework can operate as an early warning system that alerts policy makers (and others) to possible future developments. It also allows decision makers to identify alternative pathways and outcomes to pursue or avoid. Indeed, the shape of uncertainty is formed by choices, and in most cases, governments can choose to avoid some obviously bad options and to pursue more promising ones. The OECD STI Outlook provides evidence and analysis that aims to help policymakers when weighing their options in these times of crisis and opportunity.
The STI Outlook’s key uncertainties framework and its use to explore the post-COVID-19 STI policy landscape