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Innovation in Russia and Ukraine in need of performance improvement

“In our ranking of national innovation performance for 36 countries, Russia and Ukraine were only placed 27th and 35th respectively,” announces Professor Slavo Radosevic, a senior researcher in the EC funded BRUIT project.

Radosevic belongs to a team of economists from research organisations in Russia and Ukraine, led by Assystem, that has been applying the EC’s TrendChart methodology to collect statistical data and policy information in order to evaluate the national innovation systems and performances of Ukraine and Russia.

Using data collected for 26 socio-economic indicators, Radosevic calculated the summary innovation index (SII) for Russia and Ukraine and compared them with those for EU member states and other countries such as Japan and the US.

“Russia is a country of extremes,” notes Professor Natalia Ivanova from IMEMO, Russian Academy of Sciences. “It has a very well developed system of R&D institutes covering a broad range of scientific fields, however, most Russian business do not invest in R&D and have no clear innovation strategy.”

Notably, the Russian government is investing billions of roubles in areas of science and technology such as nanotechnology and space as well as innovation support measures such as technoparks and venture capital funds.

The Russian government also aims to achieve several specific, innovation-related targets by 2015 including raising the ratio of gross domestic expenditure on R&D to gross domestic product (GERD/GDP) to 2.5% and increasing the ratio of business expenditure on R&D to gross domestic expenditure on R&D (BERD/GERD) to 70%.

IMEMO’s research reveals that government efforts should not only focus on increasing the innovation activities, but also reforming the public and private R&D sector and increasing the number and transparency of competitions for public research funds.

Similarly, Ukraine has a large number of research establishments but many are in decline. Today only a quarter of all Ukrainian graduates leaving university have studied science or engineering, whereas the figure was over 60% in 1990.

“The ratio of public expenditure on R&D to gross domestic product in Ukraine is less than 60% of the EU25 average,” observes Dr Igor Yegorov of STEPS, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. “And the ratio for business R&D expenditures is even worse – just 31%.”

“Clearly action needs to be taken if Ukraine is to develop a broad-based, innovation-led economy,” adds Yegorov.

The researchers recently presented their preliminary findings to Ukrainian government officials in Kiev. The Ukrainian government has designed several innovation policies but problems are often encountered with their implementation. For example, efforts to introduce tax incentives for technoparks by one ministry were subsequently blocked by another.

“Our finalised reports on the national innovation systems and performances of Ukraine and Russia will be published this autumn,” concludes Giles Brandon, BRUIT project co-ordinator at Assystem.

“Furthermore, we will be inviting government policy makers to a workshop to tackle the issues of innovation policy implementation and restructuring of R&D systems.”

Giles Brandon | alfa
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