50 YEARS OF ENHANCING TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION AROUND THE GLOBE
WAITRO THROUGH THE YEARS
In 1970, WAITRO is founded in Vienna and within a couple of years is granted consultative status by UNIDO. 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 WAITRO 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. WAITRO Regional Focal Points (RFPs) are established to bring the association‘s services closer to its members. The first RFP’s are established at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South Africa, the National Institute of Science and Development Studies (NISTADS), India and the Central Metallurgical Research and Development Institute (CMRDI), Egypt.
The WAITRO Secretariat moves to SIRIM (Malaysia) at the end of 2002. Regional Focal Points are 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 under the leadership of Secretary- General Dr. Rohani Hashim steps down as the hosting organization. This has been the longest hosting period for any WAITRO Secretariat and thanks to SIRIM, WAITRO has become the strong, diverse and close-knit family that it is today.
Now and Future Direction
For the first time in the Association’s history, two WAITRO offices are established in 2019 under the umbrella of the new Secretary-General, Dr. Eckart Bierdümpel. SIRIM hands its responsibilities over to the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in Germany who is sharing their tasks with JITRI in China. Together they will further expand WAITRO and take it to the next level by launching a range of membership services like the Open Innovation Hub SAIRA , a member-exclusive Intranet and a Fellowship Program.