‘Technopolis’ mooted for Sri Lanka metro project

ECONOMYNEXT – A special zone where research outfits could be linked with industry should be created in Sri Lanka’s proposed ‘megapolis’ covering the entire wester province urban agglomeration, a top economist has proposed.

W. A. Wijewardena, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, said the only way the island can avoid the ‘middle income trap’, where countries stagnate at lower middle income levels, is to export high-tech products and services. 

With incomes rising, the island can no longer compete with other countries which have cheap labour, and lacks the science and technology base to become an exporter of hi-tech products, he said.

“It’s easy to go up from a poor country status to middle income status with labour intensive products for the world market,” Wijewardena told the biennial research symposium of the Industrial Technology Institute, a state research outfit.

“Now that we are a lower middle income country we have to move on for which we need technology.”

But Sri Lanka cannot compete with rich countries because it lacks a science, technology and innovation base.

“So the future depends on developing a science, technology and innovation base,” Wijewardena said.
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Sri Lanka’s scientists have developed inventions but lacked the ability to become entrepreneurs or link up with businesses and make them commercially viable products, he said.
 
Without aiting for government support or funding, Wijewardena suggested putting scientists together with industry.

“We ourselves can get connected to industry. We can have a technopolis within the megapolis,” he said referring to the Colombo metropolitan development plan covering the western province.

He said a zone from Malabe to Pitipana where there are several universities and academic institutions could be developed into a ‘technohub’.

“Sri Lanka must become a complex product economy from being a simple product manufacturer,” he said.
(Colombo/November 17 2015)
 

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