Biennial Conference on Science and Technology (BICOST) Series

PRELUDE

The series of conferences that now come to be known as BICOST, results from the main activity of the National Science and Technology Commission (NASTEC) as mandated by the Science and Technology Act No 11 of 1994. This Act, which was responsible for the creation of NASTEC, was only implemented in 1998, and mandated NASTEC to inter alia, stage The Sri Lanka Conference on Science and Technology biennially ..."

BICOST - I
It was NASTEC, guided by the scientific community, which designed and gave body to the conference, when it staged BICOST-I in August 2000, and formulated the Rules and Regulations of the BICOST as stipulated in the Act itself.
 
THEME BICOST - I
The theme of BICOST-I, was "Science and Technology in National Development". The BICOST series was launched, albeit with great expectations and hope, by the Minister of Science and Technology at the Presidential Secretariat, in August 2000.

BICOST-I was a significant success in that for the first time it brought together representatives of the entire National Science and Technology System (NTS), that is, all the actors, scientists, engineers, technologists, managers, administrators, entrepreneurs, bankers, etc. responsible for the science and technology effort of the country, in a common goal oriented exercise.

BICOST-I generated three major landmark documents: A Review Document on the Current Status of Scientific Activity in the major sectorial areas identified (BICOST-I Documentation Part I), the Recommendations of the Conference (BICOST-I Documentation Part II), and a document termed STAND i.e., Science and Technology Agenda for National Development (BICOST-I Documentation Part III), which was the Action Plan.

 


BICOST - II
The 2nd Biennial Conference on Science and Technology (BICOST-II) was held from 5th - 8th September 2002. Two renowned Indian Scientists were invited as guest speakers to this Conference. They were Dr. T. Ramasamy, CSIR, Chennai and Dr. Mohindra Chadda, Bhaba Atomic Research Centre, Trombay.
 
THEME OF BICOST-II
The theme of BICOST-II, was "Science and Technology in Infrastructure Development".

In order for national development to thrive there was indeed the necessity of an appropriate infrastructure. Science and Technology had a key role to play in the development of such an infrastructure and to see it in place in the country. The acceptance of this theme with its wide and varied facets meant defining the scope of INFRASTRUCTURE in the context of National Development.

Def: "The Basic framework of services, facilities and institutions upon which the growth, functioning and development of a country depend" (Extracted and modified from definitions given by Design and Management of Infrastructure Research Centre, Netherlands).

Based on the above definition and in order to restrict the scope for a three-day meeting the NASTEC Steering Committee for BICOST-II discussed several modalities in which the conference could be conducted.

The main objective was to identify the Science and Technology inputs required to develop the necessary infrastructure for facilitating the process of national development. The final approach was to address the aspect of S&T in infrastructure development, together with the objectives stated in BICOST-I viz
  • the initiatives necessary towards sustaining and enhancing the indigenous S&T capability in the country including the aspects of institution strengthening and HRD,
  • productively utilizing the present S&T capability in national development as well as national policy guidance, enabling the S&T capability to address the challenges resulting from the new global economic and trade patterns.
Accordingly the steering committee designed the following modalities for BICOST-II.

MODALITIES
TWO categories of components designated 'Sector Specifics' and 'Functionals' (vide figure), will receive consideration.

The Sector specifics are those considered to be of crucial importance in survival viz: Food & Agriculture, Environment, Health and Trade & Industry.

The Functionals are some of the main subjects, which bear functional relationships with all of the sector specifics. These were identified as: Energy (and here we shall address alternate energy only), Communication, Waste Management, Transport, and Water Management.

The issue of Quality Management runs across both Sector Specifics as well as the Functionals. It is arguably the most significant S&T intervention in the building up of and the sustenance of infrastructure.

Presentations on the Sector specifics outlined the scenario within each sector - as the authors view them - and attempted to identify the S&T requirements in respect of the build-up of infrastructure. The presentations on the Functionals attempted primarily to examine the S&T requirements from a holistic viewpoint and indicate possible initiatives. There was also a presentation, which addressed the question of quality management.

BICOST- V
The 5th Sri Lanka Conference on Science and Technology (BICOST – V) was held at Hotel Topaz/Tourmaline, Kandy from 30th May to 01st June 2008. A formal inauguration was held on the evening of 29th May. Honorable Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Tissa Vitarana was the chief guest of the occasion. Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman, Chairman/Federal Minister, Higher Education, Pakistan attended as a special guest to grace the occasion. About 100 participants attended this formal inauguration ceremony. Around 70 participants, both scientists and non-scientists, participated at the Conference started on 30th May. The 5th BICOST concentrated on formulating a National Science and Technology Policy for Sri Lanka. A draft national science and technology policy was presented and was discussed in detail at the Conference.

An open forum held at the end of the first day of the conference was a special activity incorporated at this BICOST. At this open forum, the participants voiced their opinions about science and technology in Sri Lanka in general and about the role of NASTEC specifically.

Other than the presentations on draft national S&T policy, the representatives of the Ministry of Power and Energy, Ministry of Industrial Development, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, and Department of Agriculture presented power and energy policy, industrial development policy, environment policy and agriculture development policy, respectively during the cause of the conference to make the participants aware of those policies while discussing the national S&T policy.

On the final day of the conference the group discussions were presented with the proposed amendments to the policy. These amendments/comments made by the participants will be considered in the preparation of the final policy document.
 

BICOST VI 
The 6th Sri Lanka Biannual Conference on Science and Technology (BICOST - VI) was held at Hotel Suisse, Kandy from 16th to 18th July 2010. A formal inauguration was held on the evening of 16th July. Honorable Minister of Technology and Research, Prof. Tissa Vitarana was the chief guest of the occasion. The Deputy Minister Honorable Lalith Dissanayake also attended the Inauguration. About 140 participants attended this formal inauguration ceremony. Around 120 participants, both scientists and non-scientists, participated at the Conference started on 17th July. The 6th BICOST concentrated on Planning for Economics Growth through Science and Technology.

Hon. Minister of Technology & Research presented his document on science, technology and innovation strategy for Sri Lanka at this conference and it was discused and the participants presented their views on it. Dr.R.D.Guneratne, Dr.M.C.N.Jayasuriya, Prof.V.Karunaratne, Dr.A.M.Mubark, Dr.L.N.Senaweera, Prof.Sarath Abeykoon, Dr.S.A.K.Abayawardana, Dr. S.D.G. Jayawardene, Prof. Rohan Rajapakse, Dr. Janaka Munasinghe, Eng. D.S.D. Jayasiriwardene, Eng. Parakrama Jayasinghe, gave presentations on different policy objectives.

Group discussion based on those presentation were held on 17th July and the outcome of these discussions were presented on the final day of the conference.
 
 

BICOST - VII
BICOST VII was successfully concluded introducing 'National R&D Investment Framework for 2015-2020' for Sri Lanka
The 7th Sri Lanka Biennial Conference on Science and Technology (BICOST - VII) which is one of the main events of NASTEC was successfully concluded on 7th July 2014 at Waters Edge, Battaramulla with the participation of more than 340 science and technology professionals from government institutions, academia, and the industry. This event was organized by the NASTEC in close collaboration with the Ministry of Technology and Research. The Keynote address was delivered by the Honorable Minister of Technology and Research, Mr. Patali Champika Ranawaka. Hon. Minister of Environment and Renewable Energy, Mr. Susil Premajayantha and Hon. Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mr. Lakshman Wasantha perera were among the gathering at the inauguration of the Conference.  
 
  BICOST is one of the most important Science and Technology conferences in Sri Lanka. The seventh Conference of the series has been dedicated to discuss and adopt the "National Research and Development Investment Framework for 2015-2020." The investment framework was officially handed over to the Honorable Minister of Technology and Research by the secretary to the Ministry of Technology and Research, Mrs. Dhara Wijayatilake at the end of the conference.
The investment framework consist of ten focus areas that have been carefully chosen after having series of brainstorming sessions with the sector experts. These selected focus areas are: 1. Water, 2. Food, Nutrition and Agriculture 3. Health, 4. Shelter, 5. Environment, 6. Energy, 7. Textile and Apparel, 8. Mineral Resources, 9. Information Communication Technology and Knowledge Services, 10. Basic Sciences, Emerging Technologies and Indigenous Knowledge. The expected outcomes of this investment framework are either the enhancement of quality of life of the people or the enhancement of the economic development of the country.  Ten expert groups, each consist of around ten members have been appointed to identify, problems/issues in each focus area and R&D needs to address them under ten given intervention fields namely; 1. Policy Studies 2. Pure & Applied Research 3. Innovation 4. Information and Communication Technologies 5. Nanotechnology 6. Biotechnology 7. Indigenous Knowledge & Intellectual Property Rights  8. Testing, Standardization & Accreditation 9. Capacity Building 10. Popularization. Ten reports have been prepared for ten selected focus areas.
 
As we know Sri Lanka’s economy entered into the lower middle income level in 1998.  To lift ourselves to a higher income level, we need to achieve at least 8% economic growth rate (minimum escape growth rate (MEGR)) in coming years as per the economists. To fulfill that aspiration, we need to shift from the efficiency driven stage in the economy to the innovation driven stage. Minister reiterates that the National Research and Development Investment Framework 2015-2020 will be a promising enabler to achieve the MEGR for Sri Lanka. He further stated that the investment requirements are well within the policy imperative given in ‘Mahinda Chinthana Idiri Dekma’ (a vision for the future) to increase the expenditure on R&D to 1% of the GDP whereas it is 0.2% currently. Further, he emphasized that the economic benefits reaped through the investment framework should be aligned with the triple principles of economic policy, strategy or action plans that will act as the pillars of a sustainable future: Sustainable economic development, Sustainable social development, and Sustainable environmental development.
 
A few snapshots from BICOST VII