As reported in our previous research [6
], it is noted that each percentage of the CTCN Technical Assistance regarding the three service stages is about 80%, 15%, and 5%, respectively, which means that the CTCN has mainly focused on climate technology outsourcing at the first stage of technology transfer, rather than on technology demonstration at the second stage, or on technology diffusion at the third stage. Moreover, most of the previous CTCN Technical Assistance services implemented by the private network members were mostly involved in the latter two stages of technology transfer. This indicates that there is a need for two types of PPP strategies, i.e., (1) a short-term strategy to increase the engagement of the current network members (private sector as implementor during the first stage) and (2) a long-term strategy for shifting from technology–push to market–pull innovation to attract the new members and engage the current ones as incubator or investor during the second and third stages), as described in Figure 4
4.1. The Short-Term Strategy: More Engaged Network Members in the First Staged Technical Assistance
Since the portion of the first staged Technical Assistance is still significant, it seems obvious that the CTCN can consider temporarily setting up a strategy for enhancing the participation of the private sector in this stage as a technology implementor. This directly satisfies the shared interest of resource combination (Table 2
) by technology outsourcing from the private sector (as implementor) within the CTCN network, denoting ‘technology–push strategy innovation’. For this purpose, two action plans are on-going by the CTCN—one is running special innovative activities for ‘dormant’ private network members to support local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the other is the digitalization of the CTCN Technical Assistance.
Aligned with an innovative trend in other organisations to help developing countries by establishing climate innovation centres or by running various entrepreneurial programmes for different stakeholders, the CTCN has started to run a special private sector innovation programme which focuses on the identification of challenges and specific solutions for the SMEs, through the SME Technology Clinics [22
]. This activity aims to support the transformation of the national industrial SME markets by helping industrial SMEs to take up climate technologies by (1) introducing innovative climate technologies and international climate technology providers, (2) creating linkages to finance, and (3) building the capacity and awareness of the local industrial SMEs. Therefore, this has been a good opportunity for the inactive private network members to join in technology outsourcing as innovative technology implementors for the local SMEs.
In addition, in 2020, the CTCN also launched the Youth Climate Innovation Labs [23
], aiming to support countries in incentivizing innovation by improving their national systems of innovation. Two virtual Youth Climate Innovation Labs (one in Africa and one in Asia-Pacific) took place in November 2020 and December 2020, and they attracted more than 800 participants from more than 50 countries. It focused on developing solutions to CTCN partner SMEs identified needs and challenges through youth engagement and design thinking processes. By participating in these innovative activities as climate technology implementors, private network members can transfer their cutting-edge technologies and skills to the local SMEs within target countries.
Furthermore, for more innovative engagement of the private sector network members in technology outsourcing for Technical Assistance, it is worthwhile to note that climate technology solutions can be converged digital technologies, i.e., machine learning, cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain technology. These emerging technologies can enhance information transparency, increase automation, and enable direct interactions between the private sector network members by creating a trusted information layer by combining IoT sensors (data collection), machine learning (verification and analysis), and blockchain technology (distribution and execution). Previously, innovative early warning systems for enhancing climate resilience were developed in Thailand [24
] by connecting various private digital technologies with software (SW) modelling and associated climate data. Moreover, these IT-incorporated Technical Assistance results implemented by the private sector during the first stage, can be transformed during the later second and third stages into valuable outputs for involving other private-sector network members, who are seeking new collaboration opportunities with the CTCN.
4.2. Long-Term Strategy: Shifting to Market–Pull Innovation
For a sustainable strategy to integrate more members from the private sector into CTCN Technical Assistance, it is important to recognise that the private sector always tends to consider business or market creation for profit sharing [25
]. This leads to their dominant roles as ‘incubators for technology demonstration’ at the second stage, or ‘investors for market creation’ at the third stage of technology diffusion, rather than as ‘implementors for technology provision’ at the first stage. Therefore, we can state that technology innovation should transform steadily from technology–push (first stage) to market–pull (second and third stages) by raising the Technical Assistance requests for private incubators or investors from the developing countries, as indicated in Figure 4
The increase of requests for market–pull innovation is feasible, if it is recognised that the CTCN follows a ‘two-sided network model’, as described by Stabel and Fjeldstad [26
]. This is known as a platform for exchange between two distinct user groups that provide each other with the benefits of a large network. Figure 5
shows the CTCN’s two-sided network model.
In the case of the CTCN, there are technology providers/knowledge owners (network members, UN organisations, other partners) on one side, and technology/knowledge seekers (mainly governments interested in climate change, climate technology, etc.) on the other side. Accordingly, under this circumstance, external values like technology requests and solutions are smoothly transferred between the service provider and customer, i.e., technology providers from the private sector can easily access all requests from technology seekers (government) by joining the CTCN network. This is known as a country-driven requesting process for the Technical Assistance from the CTCN, implying customer-oriented open innovation [6
]. Therefore, we can state that this two-sided network system is very operational to effectively customise the requests and solutions that are market-friendly by creating new linkages and reinforcing or de-linking existing connections.
Within the two-sided networks, CTCN can, therefore, use ‘co-creation’ as a strategy to facilitate sustainable engagement of the private sector, especially as an incubator or an investor. Recognizing that co-creation activities are the processes of networking or collaboration with different stakeholders to achieve the common goals from the shared interests, the CTCN can employ the co-creation strategy as a sustainable method in establishing a robust partnership with the private sector. It can also foster innovation and this time-bounded process will drive mutually beneficial achievements to collaboration, according to our interview with the USAID.
As a good example of co-creation for sustainable engagement of the private sector, the CTCN can upgrade the previous SMEs programme to a five-year co-creation programme with three phases. Figure 6
shows the proposed co-creation process of the upgraded SMEs programme. In Figure 6
, first, both the private sector as implementors and SME partners from developing countries are invited to co-creation workshops, facilitated by the two-sided network system of the CTCN. During the workshops, various private network members ‘incubate’ a scope of work together to find the most needed Technical Assistance requests and solutions for SMEs, on the basis of the shared interests (capacity building, pilot product, business model, regulations, market entry, etc.). The last step is co-investment for new market creation, where the private sector acts as an investor. Through this co-creation process, private partners, especially as incubators or investors, could develop Technical Assistance projects successfully aligned with joint objectives, and the SMEs could learn a lot on the way as well as expand their networks.
Second, communication is a key tool for engaging the private members in the CTCN technology diffusion activities during the third staged Technical Assistance [27
]. The CTCN has been facilitating regular dialogues among different stakeholders and the sharing of good practices and climate-smart technologies through the existing on-line knowledge information sharing platform (www.ctc-n.org
, accessed on 1 January 2021). The CTCN platform has thousands of different information resources from a broad array of international sources (publications, case studies, tools, national climate plans and policies, climate technology and product descriptions, webinars, etc.). Moreover, enhanced IT connectivity to the CTCN platform is obviously a motivational driver to keep the current members engaged and encourage new ones to seek collaborative works with the CTCN for boosting market–pull innovation. Further research on the digitalization of the CTCN as a demonstration of using the technology framework under the UNFCCC will be elaborated in a future publication.
To summarise, the suggested short-term and long-term PPP strategies and their related activities could strengthen the partnerships and enhance climate technology transfer innovation, depending on various roles of the private sector during the three stages of the CTCN Technical Assistances, as indicated in Figure 7