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Evgeniy Kutsenko on Moscow’s 30th Place in the Global Innovation Index 2018

On 10 July, the Global Innovation Index 2018 was published. In the new ranking, Russia holds the 46th place out of 126, while Moscow made it into the top 30 of the world’s most innovative cities. In his Rusbase column Evgeniy Kutsenko, head of the HSE ISSEK Russian Cluster Observatory, commented on the factors which have contributed to the capital city’s impressive success.

Background: the Global Innovation Index (GII) is published since 2007 by the consortium comprising Cornell University (US), INSEAD Business School (France), and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). Leonid Gokhberg, HSE First Vice Rector and ISSEK Director, is a member of the project’s International Advisory Board. HSE ISSEK staff members also participated in drafting analytical reports for 2017, 2016, 2014 and 2012 editions.

What Happened?

The Global Innovation Index 2018 is published. This is probably the most authoritative annual innovation ranking which comprises 80 indicators and includes 126 countries. The authors interpret innovation quite broadly. Innovation drivers they take into account include institutions, human capital, research and development, infrastructure, and market potential. In turn, innovation results include not just technological innovations but also creative products.

Like in the previous edition, the countries’ ranking is supplemented with a list of the world’s top 100 innovative clusters — cities or urban agglomerations with the highest concentration of researchers and inventors.

The fact that innovation activity is not evenly distributed geography-wise is nothing new. According to the OECD, 10% of the member countries’ regions account for 58% of patent applications, 30% of R&D, and 25% of highly skilled labour force, while the most active interaction between innovation participants is observed within approximately 200 kilometres [OECD, 2013]. Therefore stepping down to the subnational level seems to make perfect sense.

Patent statistics (which provided the basis for calculating the previous ranking) in the current edition were supplemented by academic publications data, linked to the relevant applicants’ addresses. The patent statistics were represented by PCT applications for 2012–2016 (about one million of them in total, and 2.8 million applicants); the publication statistics included WoS-indexed papers (8.5 million, and 22.5 million authors) for the same period. Only papers in the 'Science and technology' area were counted (no social sciences and humanities were considered). The density of applicants’ (researchers or inventors) addresses served as the cut-off criterion to identify their significant concentrations: at least 4,5 thousand within an area 15 kilometres in radius.

How Many Innovative Clusters there are?

198 innovative clusters were identified altogether, with the top 100 located in 28 countries. The top five are Tokyo-Yokohama, Shenzhen-Hong Kong, Seoul, San Jose-San Francisco, and Beijing. The leader is the US (26 innovative clusters), followed by China (16), Germany (8), the UK (4), and Canada (4). Japan has just three such areas but one of them is the world leader.

The authors of the ranking included Russia into the group of medium-income countries with world-class innovative clusters. Apart from the abovementioned China, this group also comprises Brazil, India, Iran, and Turkey.

For the whole sample of countries, the authors observed the correlation between the number of publications and patents originating in the identified clusters (e.g. Tokyo-Yokohama produced the largest number of patents and the second largest number of publications). Extreme examples include Eindhoven (the largest number of patents combined with relatively low research productivity), and Tehran (the exact opposite). Medium-income countries somewhat stand out: their research productivity on average exceeds the patenting performance.

Compared with the last year, a shift in the distribution of patents by subject area was noted. The current leader is pharmaceutics (the key industry in 22 clusters), followed by ICT and medical technologies. Pharmaceutics patents are usually supported by a leading position in life sciences research (including chemistry).

Moscow on the Global Innovation Map: 7 Theses

  1. Moscow was the only Russian territory matching the report authors’ requirements regarding the density of research and invention activities (in the abovementioned India and Turkey there were several). At the same time, Moscow holds a higher place than Russia does in the overall ranking (the 30th vs the 46th).
  2. This is an achievement, even because there are no other such areas in Russia (at least not on the world’s top 100 list), though Turkey has two (Istanbul and Ankara) — but, importantly, both hold much lower positions (the 69th and the 76th, respectively).
  3. It turns out that Moscow’s position is also interesting because no medium-income country apart from China and Russia was included in the top 30 ranking. I.e. Moscow is closer to developed countries (and to China for that matter, which indeed has achieved a lot during the previous ten years in terms of innovation-based development) than to other nations.
  4. So far this success was mostly due to previously made progress, namely groundwork research. More specifically in physics (17% of publications), and by the Russian Academy of Sciences (40% of publications).
  5. Patent activity is unquestionably the key to Moscow’s further advancement in the ranking. E.g. Beijing’s share of PCT applications is more than 8 times bigger than Moscow’s, while the Tokyo-Yokohama agglomeration’s share is 47 times bigger! If publication statistics are disregarded Moscow immediately drops to the 49th place (and if we drop patents for a moment, it rises to the 18th).
  6. Accordingly, the traditional for Moscow-based research (and therefore for Russian research generally) focus on physics can be noted, as opposed to life sciences. Also worthy of note is the fact that in terms of thematic concentration (more than 17% of the cluster’s publications) the Moscow research sector only lags behind five out of the world’s top 100 innovation clusters. And all of them hold much lower positions in this ranking (no higher than the 78th place). Apparently, diversifying research leadership areas opens more opportunities for productive inventions activity
  7. In future, the competition for high positions in the ranking will be focused on commercialisation: will it be possible to significantly increase the number of patent applications, and actual patents (in this case international ones, since we are talking about the PCT procedure)? Obviously, this would require not just research supremacy, but also ability to quickly and efficiently turn innovations into products, and an adequate potential for marketing them on the city, national, and international levels.

Source: Rusbase (in Russian)

See also: 

The Innovative Powers of Moscow Combine into a Mega-cluster