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--> Executive Summary Knowledge Assessment is a methodology to evaluate a community's ability to acquire, diffuse, and utilize knowledge created by the National Research Council at the request of the World Bank. It was conceived to assist developing countries or other jurisdictions to cultivate knowledge-based enterprises capable of generating wealth from knowledge and technology. Designed to be rapid and low cost, it relies on a role-playing venture capital model whereby a small number of visiting experts work with local producers, researchers, and others to explore the local culture, economy, and technical capability for investment opportunities and possible barriers. In the first phase, the project team plays the role of investors from elsewhere, intent on creating or supporting enterprises in the local jurisdiction. They meet with local groups—private sector, financial community, service providers, scientists, and engineers—to get an idea of the climate for business and areas of comparative advantage. They then select a small number of knowledge-based ''vanguard enterprises" for investment, each in an advantageous area but technologically a bit beyond existing local businesses. They return with international experts in each of these areas, gather a local group of "stakeholders" who know different aspects of the new enterprises and know the local business environment, and together create business plans for these fictitious enterprises. By comparing local potential to world best-practice, these exercises enable the experts and stakeholders together to identify opportunities for new enterprises and discover local barriers that may prevent their realization. The results of these "virtual case studies" form the basis of the recommendations that are presented at the conclusion of the study.
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--> Prince Edward Island agreed to carry out the first pilot project to test the Knowledge Assessment methodology and at the same time use it to evaluate and to explore opportunities for developing the knowledge economy on the Island. The test of the knowledge economy is efficient use of knowledge resources. It can be measured by the extent to which knowledge is put to use by all sectors of society through profitable knowledge-based enterprises, effective health services, a sustaining and sustainable agricultural system, and a productive educational system, and in the longer term, by the reduction of inequality in society. Five vanguard enterprises were selected to explore the barriers to putting knowledge to use in PEI, specifically to include a manufacturing business, an enterprise located in a rural area, one that would utilize the Island's telecommunications facilities, and one related to a social sector. The five enterprises were: Chitin production from lobster and crab shells, drawing on the unique availability in close proximity of large amounts of shell, the highly organized processing sector, and the process research capacity of the university and government laboratories; Swine breeding for export, taking advantage of the island status of PEI and the opportunities to increase the biosecurity of the Island and the high capability of the swine breeders to produce low-disease, high-value breeding stock; Electronic commerce, combining the broad-band network existing throughout the Island and the marketing potential of the Anne of Green Gables theme for sales of Island products via the Internet; Wind turbine manufacture, with fabrication, assembly, and testing of wind turbines and components by Island suppliers and contractors and marketing to remote areas of Canada and developing countries; and Telemedicine, using computers and the broad-band network to bring specialized health care capability to rural hospitals. The recommendations of the Knowledge Assessment were drawn from the analysis of the vanguard enterprises. Among the specific suggestions were: creation of a Center for the New Economy, with educational, mentoring, and assistance programs for knowledge-based industry; development of an educational program on the Island for would-be investors that would encourage local investment while providing a source of income for a local institution; a "youth province" program to introduce young students to new career ideas and build a more self-reliant, entrepreneurial culture; establishment of graduate programs at the university in selected areas related to development opportunities for PEI; creation of a biosecure zone on PEI that could become a world resource for conservation of vulnerable commercial species and reconstruction of deci-
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--> mated herds or cultivars, while enabling local breeders to produce low-disease, high-value products, to be fully explored at a proposed international conference on PEI on securing the global food supply; a survey exploring health, education, and business opportunities to more fully use the capacity of the province's broad-band infrastructure, using information technology and the provincial geographical information system to match needs and outcome with service availability; a campaign to recruit and retain skilled workers and professionals from off the Island, with particular attention to former Islanders; development of a provincial science and research policy to set priorities and guide the allocation of resources to the research and development community; encouragement of first stage financing for knowledge-based enterprise at two levels: microfinancing for small or life-style businesses and venture capital for enterprises with potential for growth. Following the virtual case studies, some of the participants were already encouraged to form real companies in the same areas, and new partnerships have been formed to further these efforts. These exercises appear to have had a catalytic effect beyond the purposes of the Knowledge Assessment, and it is recommended that the self-examination that is central to the Knowledge Assessment methodology be continued. There may be scope for the Institute of Island Studies to continue its role as a catalyst in this area.
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