Investments in R&D and innovations lay the ground for steady growth of national economies and business competitiveness. In the West, substantial funds for technology development are contributed by private investors, while in Russia the leading role belongs to the Government so far. Another pressing problem for the Russian economy is efficient transfer of technology, i.e. its commercialisation and practical application in the industry and other areas.
The top five countries by the amount of investment in R&D are the US, China, Japan, Germany and South Korea (UNESCO Institute for Statistics).
The leaders by the investment share in their GDP are South Korea (4.3%), Israel (4.1%), Japan (3.6%), Finland and Sweden.
Russia is lagging behind, its investment estimated at 1.2% of GDP by UNESCO and at 1.5% by the Russian Federal State Statistics Service. According to the latter, the national R&D investment has grown almost three-fold since 2010.
The US Industrial Research Institute projects that global R&D spending will grow by 3.4% in 2017, mostly thanks to the US (25.5% of the total) and China (20.8%).
In most countries, the bulk of financing for new developments comes from the corporate segment.
Private investments account for 85% of the total in Israel, 70% in the US and 56% in Australia.
In Russia, businesses provide up to 60% of the total spending, according to UNESCO. The Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, however, has an opposite view of the situation, maintaining that three quarters are provided by the budget and the rest by private businesses.
Experts of the Federal Research Centre for Projects Evaluation and Consulting Services under the Russian Ministry of Education and Science point out that the main challenge Russia is facing is not so much “production” of new knowledge as its commercialisation. They mention the following issues:
insufficient contributions of small and medium-sized businesses, administrative and personnel barriers;
low level of interaction between the academic science and universities on the one hand and businesses on the other with a view to converting discoveries and research findings into practical technologies;
lack of structures that would transform innovative models and prototypes into mass products and technologies enjoying demand in the market.
As a result, the Russian economy is often forced to borrow foreign technology instead of using its own developments.
According to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry data, the index of dependence on foreign technology grew from 0.3 to 0.67 in 2004–2014 (where 1 means “complete dependence”). In some sectors, it reaches as much as 0.85 or even 1.
However, measures have been taken recently to improve the situation. Technology parks are being opened at universities, large research centres, tech cities and restricted-access cities.
In accordance with its comprehensive development programme, the Russian Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications established 12 high-tech industrial parks, which in 2015 sold RUB 51.2 billion worth of products and services.
With contributions from the World Intellectual Property Organisation, over 140 support centres for technology and innovation were set up in 64 regions. They are hosted by various sites, including universities, research organisations, and local chambers of commerce and industry, and offer businesses assistance related to intellectual property issues, making it easier for them to turn technology solutions into products.