Over 50 years of enhancing technology and innovation around the globe
WAITRO has been playing a vital role in uniting the world of research and development by creating a common platform for international collaboration in research and development.
The World Association of Industrial and Technological Research Organization (WAITRO) was formally founded as a non-governmental organization under the auspices of UNIDO. 84 Industrial research organizations (RTOs) from 54 developing and developed countries met in Vienna from October 28-30, 1970 for the founding meeting. These years are marked by many firsts, including the first WAITRO twinning arrangement, WAITRO’s first training program and the first issue of its newsletter then titled ‚Communique‘.
From 1978-81 the WAITRO Secretariat is hosted by the Netherlands Organization for Applied Research (TNO) in The Hague.
Despite these years being tough for WAITRO, the Global Innovation Family continues to push forward to strengthen the capabilities of RTOs through twinning programs and other cooperative arrangements.
This period is marked by several organizational and structural changes to strengthen the organization. In 1987, the WAITRO Secretariat moves to Denmark where it is hosted by Jutland Technological Institute (JTI) which later on merges with other Danish institutes to form the Danish Technological institute (DTI).
From the early 1990s, RTOs throughout the world, in both developed and the developing countries were suffering the effects of reduced government contributions to their activities, reduced import restrictions and increased globalization. WAITRO’s response to this problem was to focus the attention of its members on SMEs which were increasingly being recognized as major engines of innovation, employment and economic stability.
This period ushers in a new era of growth. Initially only in three regions, later for all five regions (Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, MENA, Latin America and the Caribbean) one member organization was appointed to support the Secretariat regionally. WAITRO Regional Focal Points (RFPs) are established to bring the associations’ services closer to its members. The RFPs still play an important role in WAITRO to this day.
The WAITRO Secretariat moves to SIRIM Berhad from Malaysia which ended up becoming the longest host of the Association so far. In the 16 years in Malaysia, WAITRO increasingly facilitated member participation in EU projects and focused on poverty alleviation and women empowerment projects, working closely with ISESCO. Regional Focal Points were given a bigger role in networking activities in respective regions.
The Association intensifies their efforts in project partnerships, training and capability building of member organizations by strengthening opportunities for information exchange, close interaction and concrete joint initiatives. UNIDO, ISESCO und UNESCO support WAITRO initiatives.
WAITRO increasingly focuses on strengthening the Association by recruiting new members and forming consortia of organizations from different parts of the world to create opportunities for collaborative research involving multi-national objectives.
Last official acts by SIRIM as the Secretariat include reinforcing the cooperation with UNIDO and the creation of the WAITRO Innovation Award to reward impactful innovations. After 16 years, SIRIM Berhard steps down as the hosting organization. This has been the longest hosting period for any WAITRO Secretariat and thanks to SIRIM Berhard, WAITRO has become the strong, diverse and close-knit Global Innovation Familiy that it is today.
Now and Future Direction
For the first time in the Association’s history, two WAITRO offices are established in 2019. SIRIM hands its responsibilities over to the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in Germany who shares their tasks with JITRI in China. Together they will further expand WAITRO and take it to the next level by launching a range of additional membership services such as SAIRA and the Capacity Development Program.
Celebrating 50 years of WAITRO
From Vienna in 1970 to the Cloud. In October 2020, WAITRO celebrated its 50th anniversary. More that 1000 participants from all over the world listened to insights from contemporary witnesses of WAITRO‘s history and joined live sessions with former Secretary Generals, Presidents, and others outstanding individuals who shaped the history of the Global Innovation Family.