As the ninth BRICS summit takes place in Xiamen, China, this month, we look at BRICS innovation, and the ‘BRICS Innovative Competitiveness Report 2017’, released as a result of the meeting of the ministers of science, technology and innovation from these countries in Hangzhou in July 2017.
Wan Gang, the Chinese minister of science and technology, said at the fifth BRICS science, technology and innovation ministerial meeting that the “Hangzhou Declaration” reiterated cooperation among BRICS countries, which was of great importance to improving innovation, boosting the world economy and helping sustainable development.
The “BRICS Action Plan for Innovation Cooperation (2017-2020)” stressed that innovation was one of the key driving forces of global sustainable development and played a fundamental role in promoting economic growth. The plan said BRICS countries were committed to enhancing cooperation in innovation based on existing mechanisms and joint research programs, encouraging cooperation among science parks and strengthening training of technology transfer.
It said that BRICS countries should promote partnerships on youth innovation and entrepreneurship for pragmatic cooperation, establish inter-BRICS investment instruments, exchange young scientists and entrepreneurs, and stress the role of women in science, technology and innovation.
‘Leading through innovation & deepening cooperation’ is the key theme of the action plan, and will focus on exchange of views concerning BRICS STI policies, cooperation in thematic fields, joint sponsorship of multilateral R&D projects, science park cooperation and other important topics.
The BRICS countries represent approximately 42 percent of the world population and occupy 30 percent of the earth’s territory with a combined nominal GDP of approximately 23 percent of the world GDP and a combined trade volume of approximately 16 percent of the world trade. Over the past decade, the BRICS countries have contributed over half of the global economic growth.
BRICS countries invest heavily in research and development, with annual R&D expenditures accounting for approximately 17 percent of the world’s total, high-tech exports reaching nearly USD6 trillion or approximately 28 percent of the world’s total, and publications of science papers totalling 590,000, approximately 27 percent of the world’s total.
The BRICS Innovative Competitiveness Report 2017 says that from 2001 to 2016, Brazil, India and China have risen in their ranking in terms of national comprehensive innovation competitiveness; the ranking of Russia and South Africa remained same. It predicts that the innovation competitiveness of India would see a significant rise with its growth rate probably surpassing China between 2025-2030; the growth rate of Russia would fall and India would take over Russia in terms of its comprehensive STI competitiveness by 2030.
The report also says the international community lacks an in-depth strategic study on international collaboration among BRICS countries. It suggests an urgent need to set up a regular network for technology collaboration and transfer as both governments and a regularly organized conference on technology transfer could no longer satisfy the needs for the transfer and flow of technology, funding and talent. Hence, it makes the following suggestions:
- Strengthening coordination and overall planning.
- Intensifying joint STI efforts.
- Expanding people-to-people exchanges.
- Establishing a platform for technology transfer so to share cooperation successes.
- Exercising influence of BRICS countries.
- Matching development strategies.
- Enhancing collaboration in basic research and mega scientific and engineering projects.
- Establishing an enterprise-oriented STI collaboration mechanism with a well functioniong industry-academia-research chain.
In terms of cooperation, it says South Africa shows the most active involvement in international research cooperation among all BRICS countries. In Russia, the share of internationally co-authored publications for the last 15 years remained at 25-35 percent. The share of internationally co-authored publications by Brazilian researchers has grown during the last 5 years (from 23.9 to 30.1 percent). In India and China scientists are integrated into international research cooperation to a lesser extent than in other BRICS countries.
BRICS countries’ involvement in international research cooperation (except South Africa) is much lower than European countries. At the same time, Asian countries with advanced research systems tend to display rather low participation in international scientific cooperation.
Led by the China Science and Technology Exchange Center and written by over 40 researchers worldwide, the report also contains study on digital and agricultural technology in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.