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Global Innovation Report - not all bad news for Russia

Russia has fallen 11 places in the 2013 Global Innovation Index, an annual report produced by Cornell University, the business school INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). This puts it in 62nd place overall, 35th in Europe and 19th among upper-middle-income countries.

However, Russia’s position actually improved in four of the categories used to generate the final score.

According to the report, institutions remain the biggest obstacle to innovation in Russia. Although it’s position improved slightly, from 93rd to 87th, the report’s authors highlighted political stability (113th), press freedom (119th) and the Rule of Law (113th) as particular weaknesses. On the plus side, Russia’s business institutions were more highly regarded, with the country’s business environment ranked 55th.

However, Russia managed a significant improvement in the human capital and research category, improving its position from 43rd to 33rd. It scores particularly highly in science and engineering graduates (14th place) and tertiary enrollment (13th place), while the 1.1% of GDP spent on R&D puts it in 33rd place.

Infrastructure has also improved (from 54th to 49th). ICT access and ICT use (both 34th) are high, while e-participation is identified as a strength (19th place). However, the overall score is pulled down by very low scores for ecological sustainability (115th).

Market sophistication has improved significantly (87th to 74th) but remains poor due to very low levels of local competition (121st) and the difficulty of securing credit. However, the investment climate fared much better (32nd).

Business sophistication saw the biggest fall (43rd to 52nd). Although a high proportion of the workforce is in knowledge intensive employment (10th), innovation linkages are considered weak (109th).

In the knowledge and technology outputs category, Russia’s position fell two places, to 48th. While it seems that Russians ‘create’ plenty of knowledge (25th for knowledge creation), this knowledge could be better diffused (68th for knowledge diffusion) in order to make a bigger impact (77th for knowledge impact).

So, what are the main things we’ve learned? Russia’s education system, despite relatively low spending (57th place), remains an important asset. It continues to produce a high number of quality science and technology graduates. It has also benefited from high research and development spending. The rapid spread of the internet across Russia’s vast territory has significantly improved the innovation climate. However, it is yet to drastically improve knowledge diffusion or impact. Both the business and investment climates have improved. However, the report’s authors clearly believe that Russia’s political environment holds it back.

Some of the report’s conclusions should cause concern to participants in the Russian innovation sector. It is perhaps most concerning that Russia, unlike the other BRIC countries, is considered an “inefficient innovator” and an “underperformer” relative to GDP.

However, improvements in human capital and the business environment are encouraging signs. It’s also worth pointing out that among the BRICs, Russia performed better overall than Brazil and India. As is so often the case, Russia’s potential is clear to see. If the government could only work out how to harness it…

You can read the whole report here. Or you can view Russia's country profile here.  

2013-07-03, Rusbase.

Keywords: innovations, rankings, R&D, Russia

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