Prospects for Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation among the BRICS countries / Daria Turianitsa

Daria Turianitsa, Assistant Research Fellow, Russian National Committee on BRICS Research

The new stage of scientific and technical progress not only strengthens the role of knowledge and information, but also dictates the need of transition to more flexible model of development.

Science, Technology and Innovation are fundamental instruments for UN sustainable development goals realization, which allows to increase economic, social and environmental efficiency of activity, develop new and more stable ways of human needs satisfaction and expand human development possibilities.

For emerging economies to develop effective strategy (that will include improvement of quality of education and the ability to adopt and introduce innovations) is one of the conditions to maintain long-term economic growth.

In the majority of developed countries the dynamic of innovative progress based on creation of new technologies and improvement existing ones, efficient use of resources and quality of human capital become key factors of growth.

Therefore, the main factor of developing countries transition to a post-industrial stage of development, accession to a group of developed countries and ensuring international competitiveness of national products is not only the ability to use effectively, but also to create innovative products by means of development of science and information technologies.

To compare the indicators reflecting intensity and dynamics of innovation process in the world is important to understand global trends at a new stage of scientific and technical progress, and also for objective assessment of BRICS countries place and their role in the sphere of innovations.

According to Global Innovation Index in 2018 Russia holds the 46th place from 126 countries, with a high level of educational and scientific potential which, however, is not used effectively. China, India, and Russia are at the top among the middle-income group, followed by Brazil and Argentina. Mexico and Malaysia are advancing the most in this group. While North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific are the top innovation regions.

The share of expenses on research and development is growing: in 2000 the general level of expenses on research and development in the world was 1.5% of world GDP, in 2016 it already reached 1.7% of world GDP.

The world expenses’ on science and innovations stable growth caused by increasing competition between the world markets demands efficient using of resources and effective strategy of economic growth.

During this period the indicator grew almost twice in developing countries: from 0.7% to 1.2% of GDP, China played key role in this process.

The key problem in Russia in innovative sector development is the research and development transformation and insufficient funding of science which is saved up for the 1990s. The science sphere was hardly damaged during the crisis in 1990-1998. Unfortunately in 2000 Russia still kept rather low level of expenses on research and development. Despite being one of the leading countries in the world by the number of researchers per capita Russia remains only fourth in the ten world ranking on research and development share in GDP. Thus, implementation of innovative policy is still one of the priority issues for economic development in Russia.

Among the high-tech and knowledge-intensive industries the biggest share in GDP is made by information and communication technologies (ICT). According to the World trade organization (WTO), in 2016 share of ICT export of developing countries in the structure of joint world export made 32.4%, and import — 40.7%.

Export and import of information technology industry products consist of computers, peripheral equipment, communication equipment, electronic equipment and other ICT goods.

Only in China and the share of ICT products in total amount of exports in 2000-2016 increased.

In other BRICS countries, there was a considerable decrease in the share of ICT products. Mainly it occurred because of the growing competition in the world market due to the rising expenses on export of information technologies made by China and other emerging economies in the Asian region.

Nowadays Internet is one of the most dynamic sectors of information technologies. Since the beginning of 2000’s there is increasing number of Internet users in Russia, China and Brazil. According to the UN statistics, in 2016 23 out of 100 in China get the access to the Internet, in Russia ― 19, and in Brazil ― 12. Meanwhile, distribution of the Internet in other BRICS countries ― India and South Africa ― remains one of the most sensitive issues in development of information technology industry.

Human potential in the era of post-industrial society is a key source for economic innovative development. Therefore, the role of the human capital raises in the process of developing innovative strategy of economic growth. Currently highly skilled human resources are the driving force for innovative development. First and the most level of human resources is characterized by the following factors: Education level; Skills in the field of ICT; Quality of education; Research activity.

Developing countries significantly differ on the level of possession of higher education. The smallest share of the population with higher education is in South Africa (19.8%). In all BRICS countries possession of higher education among women is higher, than among men.

The main driving force for research and development in the sphere of information technologies are skills. Only 8.5% of the population of developed countries can be engaged in creation of computer programs. For developing countries this figure obtains less than 3.3%. Worldwide share of men having skills in the field of ICT is higher, than share of women.

Increasing role of knowledge as one of core determinants of economic growth and increasing demand for high quality higher education caused growth of rating systems. It is said that one of the major indicators of human capital quality is level of higher educational institutions in many respects it predetermines its innovative potential.

With a huge innovative potential BRICS reached certain positive results in the sphere of science and innovations. These provided data reflect current state of BRICS innovative sector, its opportunities and priorities of further development. Furthermore it allows to define the main obstacles in process of innovative capacity implementation.

There is a number of tasks to improve innovative system among which ensuring growth of innovative activity in both private and public sector, developing partnership in the sphere of scientific research projects, increasing investments into research and development, digitalization of BRICS countries economies etc. The innovative capacity of BRICS countries and the active state support in the solution of the above-stated tasks are aimed to rise the efficiency of innovative system for the long-term economic development.