The strong international competition encourages the States to reinforce their scientific and technical potential. We take stock of the efforts made in this perspective and outline some avenues for the future. Using indicators (R&D expenditures, publications and patents, role of research cities) we show that countries investing in R&D and innovation form an unbalanced quartet. A recent UNESCO report leads us to question the role of research in the sustainable development of the planet, and then we highlight the scientific and technical challenges of the future. We observe that most countries are looking for strategies to strengthen their scientific and technical potential and to participate in international competition, and that in this perspective, the State must play a “pilot” role. Its action, enlightened by foresight, must use a panoply of instruments to implement a strategy that often needs a conductor.
JEL Code: O32