Leonid Gokhberg: “After Each Crisis, Innovation Activity Tends to Leap”
HSE published a new issue of its statistical data book “Indicators of Innovation: 2017” (in Russian). HSE First Vice Rector and ISSEK Director Leonid Gokhberg comments on the current situation with innovation activities in the country as reflected in official statistics.
Innovation activity couldn’t help reacting to the economic recession, so we observe a decline of major indicators since 2013 — for output of innovative products and innovation-related expenditures alike. Exports of innovative products have also declined in 2015, due to the overall economic situation in global markets. In part the export has re-oriented towards the CIS countries, which provided some compensation for the falling sales in other markets.
The generally low innovation activity indicators are explained by low demand for innovations in the Russian economy. Also, high technology sectors (which display the highest innovation activity figures in Russia, at about 30–35%) account for a relatively small share of the overall industrial production output. These industries include aircraft construction, space industry, electronics, medical products. A sustainable cohort of innovative companies operate in these (and in certain other) industries, less vulnerable to negative economic growth because due to specific features of their markets and technological areas they simply have to create innovations — which makes them very much different from the low technology sectors where application of innovations remains at a very low level.
Interestingly, environmental innovations play an increasingly important role in strengthening companies’ competitiveness: in several industries, the share of companies which did apply environment innovations in the total number of firms with access to ready innovations was quite high: in aircraft construction it was 23%, in metallurgy 38%, and in oil industry 52%. It’s due, of course, to introduction of more strict environmental requirements to technological processes and environmental safety of products. Many environmentally responsible companies find opportunities to integrate into international firms’ production chains.
The gap between the innovative companies and the rest of the industrial production is going to remain in place in the near future. As soon as macroeconomic situation starts to improve, we can expect companies’ innovation activity to begin recovering. The charts in the data book show waves emerging after crises — innovation activity tends to leap after each crisis because economic recovery is supported by increased demand for innovations.
So far this recovery has only just started. Certain signs of improving economic situation give grounds to expect that the situation with innovation activity will also improve in 2017; hopefully we will see it in the next issue of the data book.