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Russia's Top Innovation-driven Regions Announced

Russian regions differ significantly in terms of their attitude to innovation, according to a new release of the Russian Regional Innovational Development Ranking prepared by the HSE's experts. Thus, almost one-third of all industrial companies in Chuvashia have implemented innovative technology, while more than half of all manufactured goods in Sakhalin Region are products of innovation; in contrast, little innovative activity is observed in most territories of the North Caucasus. Tatarstan, Moscow and St. Petersburg top the list of Russian regions focused on innovation.

Russia's Top Innovation-driven Regions Announced

The fourth issue of the analytical report covers the data from 2013-2014. The rating uses a custom set of indicators based on data from many years of ISSEK’s research, official statistics, bibliometric and patent information, Federal Treasury reports, and open-access data published on government agencies’ web portals.

The Russian Regional Innovations Index (RRII) used in the rating comprises several sub-indices:

  • SECI (Socio-Economic Conditions for Innovative Activity Index);
  • STPI (S&T Potential Index);
  • IAI (Innovative Activity Index);
  • IPQI (Innovations Policy’s Quality Index)

According to Gokhberg, Kutsenko and Elena Nechaeva, Director of the ISSEK Centre for Processing Social and Economic Information, the rating covers all Russian regions except Crimea and Sevastopol, for which the 2014 data was incomplete.

Leaders and Runners-up

The Regional Innovative Development Ranking is now led by Tatarstan, Moscow and St. Petersburg. For the first time since 2008, Moscow lost its leading position to Tatarstan. The top ten also include Mordovia; Kaluga, Nizhny Novgorod, Penza and Tomsk Regions, Chuvashia, and Khabarovsk Region.

At the bottom of the list are the Jewish Autonomous Region, Ingushetia, Chechnya, Kalmykia, and the Nenets Autonomous Region.

The level of innovative development remains uneven across Russian regions. The RRII value of the region in final place in the ranking is more than 3.5 times lower than the leading region. According to the ISSEK report, further decrease in the federal government's support of regional innovation – currently provided via targeted programmes, direct funding of R&D organisations and other means – may cause even greater disparity.

According to the authors, 34 regions as relatively stable in terms of innovative development. Krasnoyarsk, Astrakhan, Bryansk, Vologda, Ivanovo, Orel and Samara Regions have retained their positions in the rating.

Regions which have significantly improved their rankings include Mari El (+18 positions), Karelia (+15), Mordovia (+14), Rostov Region (+14) and Kabardino-Balkaria (+13), while the most notable downward dynamics have been observed in Kurgan (–36), Magadan (–34), Leningrad (–25) and Kamchatka Regions (–18).

Regions Where Science is Better Off

The socioeconomic situation, scientific and technological potential, innovation activity and the quality of innovation policy all influence a region's position in the rating. Only in a few regions, such as the city of Moscow and in Krasnoyarsk, Tomsk, Saratov, Orenburg and Kostroma Regions, all four aspects develop in a balanced way; in most other regions some aspects tend to be better developed than others, sometimes radically so.

For example, Ulyanovsk Region remains a leader in terms of scientific and technological potential (STPI), leaving behind Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod Region and St. Petersburg; however, it lacks the socio-economic conditions needed for innovation (SECI), ranking 27th in this aspect and having lost 6 points since 2013. 

Moscow and St. Petersburg are leaders in terms of SECI, while in Chechya and the Jewish Autonomous Region, this subindex stands at its lowest. The regions having made substantial progress in this area include Penza Region (+34), Karachaevo-Cherkessia (+22) and Khakassia (+21), and analysts attribute their success to replacement of fixed assets and better Internet access.

In addition to Ulyanovsk Region, other regions with a high STPI supported by both human and financial resources include the cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow; Nizhny Novgorod, Tomsk, Yaroslavl, Novosibirsk, Moscow, Smolensk and Omsk Regions, and the Republic of Bashkortostan. Thus, in Smolensk Region, the proportion of researchers aged 39 or younger stands at 59% (compared to the national average of 41.3%); the proportion of highly qualified scientists in Novosibirsk Region has reached 52.1%, far exceeding the national average of 29.3%, while Nizhny Novgorod Region offers particularly attractive salaries to scientists.

In contrast, Ingushetia, Pskov Region and the Nenets Autonomous Region fall far behind in terms of S&T potential. The Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region and Karachaevo-Cherkessia have experienced the greatest decline in this parameter since last year (-29).  

Policy Affects Technology

Having abandoned its official policy of supporting innovation, the city of Moscow has dropped from the third to eleventh position in the IPQI (innovation policy quality index) ranking. Moscow's former position is now taken by Mordovia, a region that has improved its IPQI by 17 points, mainly due to more than 380 million rubles’ worth of federal subsidies received in 2013 for the construction of a fibre optic engineering facility. However, according to the authors, the federal subsidy for infrastructure development was much lower in 2014, and Mordovia's IPQI is unlikely to make it to the top three next year.

Since the Trans-Baikal Region dissolved its Council for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy and abandoned its programme of innovative development, it has experienced a record 44-point drop to 69th position in the IPQI ranking.

Conversely, St. Petersburg, having adopted a Strategy for Economic and Social Development with a separate section on innovation, has moved up in from 41st to 23rd position. In a similar manner, the adoption of relevant regional programmes has helped the advancement of Tver Region (13th) and Kuzbass (29th, up ten points). Spending more on science and innovation allowed Tyva to move 19 points up to 17th position.

Of all 83 Russian regions, Tatarstan has traditionally demonstrated the highest IPQI performance, while the Nenets Autonomous Region comes last on the list with zero rating.

Regional Seesaw

Mordovia, Tatarstan and Chuvashia topped the IAI (innovative activity index) ranking in 2014.

In Chuvashia (3rd position), innovative technology has been implemented by 28.8% of the Republic's industrial enterprises, nearly three times the national average. Mordovia (1st position) and Tatarstan (2nd position) have integrated innovation mainly in management and marketing; the same two regions are leaders in terms of the share of innovative products in the total volume of goods shipped and services rendered: 27.4% and 21.5% respectively.

Overall, the top-performing group comprises twenty regions, mainly from the Volga and Central Federal Districts, including Bashkortostan, Moscow; Perm, Nizhny Novgorod, Penza, Yaroslavl, Lipetsk, Tula, Kursk and Vladimir Regions, and others.

The lowest performance is observed in seven regions, particularly in the North Caucasus republics of Ingushetia, Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Chechnya, and also in Tuva, Kalmykia, Kaliningrad Region, and the Jewish Autonomous Region. According to the authors, "virtually no results of innovative activity have been found in this group of regions."

A few regions dropped to lower positions in the IAI ranking, such as Arkhangelsk Region (-48 points, down from 8th to 56th position), Nenets AD (-28), and Magadan Region (-24). Conversely, Mari El came up 27 points, from 50th to 23rd position.

This type of seesaw dynamics, with regional performance going sharply up or down, has been observed across different types of innovation rankings. According to the ISSEK experts, achievements are not always sustainable and require coordinated efforts by government, companies, universities and research institutions.