STEPAN was established in May 1988 as a response to an urgent development need to strengthen science and technology (S&T) policy formulation and strategic management of publicly funded research in developing nations in Asia. The establishment of this network was first recommended at the `Second Conference of Ministers Responsible for the Application of Science and Technology to Development’ and those `Responsible for Economic Planning in Asia and the Pacific’, sponsored by UNESCO in 1982. Following two planning meetings in Bangalore (1983) and Beijing (1985), funded by UNESCO, the network was finally realised through initiations of the focal points of Sri Lanka and Australia.

Under the sponsorship of UNESCO, NFP of Sri Lanka Drafted the STEPAN Action Plan whilst the Center for Technology and Social Change (CTSC) at University of Wollongong, the Australian NFP, organized the inaugural meeting to establish the network in 1988. The coordination board meeting held in Hanoi, Vietnam (1992), re-elected CTSC as Regional Center for another three years. 1996-1998 term had been served by Indonesian Institute of Science (PAPIPTEK-LIPI), Indonesia. From 1999 to 2001, STEPI had taken a role of Regional Center and from 2002 to 2004, India served the Regional Center.

The network has passed a number of important milestones. It has made a significant impact on national S&T policy and innovation studies in the region by promoting S&T policy activities at the highest government levels. It has trained a large number of key policy-makers in governments and these members now interact effectively forming a strong network.

UNESCO initiatives have championed these networking activities. The most significant impact of STEPAN activities on national governments has been in the area of training and human-resource development. STEPAN has initiated a number of training courses for personnel from government, university and private sector Institutions in wide ranging research policy, technology and innovation management topics.

STEPAN Revival in 2021

STEPAN’s last activities before it went dormant were in 2011 and in 2020, UNESCO Office Jakarta conducted a Science, Engineering, Technology, and Innovation (SETI) regional experts’ consultation and the experts recommended reviving the network.

STEPAN—now stands for the Science Engineering Technology and Innovation Policy Asia and the Pacific Network—was relaunched in 2021. At present (May 2022), STEPAN has 19 National Focal Point Representatives (NFPRs) and 1 observer member state. The members were nominated by the respective National Commission for UNESCO in March 2021 and April 2022 and led by the elected Coordination Board that consists of a Chair and four Vice-Chairs for three Main Thrusts.

updated on May 2022