Release of Russian edition of the UNESCO Science Report

02 March 2017

The Russian edition of the UNESCO Science Report may now be consulted and downloaded from UNESCO’s open access portal. It has been published by Magister Press, with the financial support of the St Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics (ITMO).

The original English edition was released in November 2015.

The report’s first message is that, despite the economic crisis that hit industrialized countries in 2008, gross domestic expenditure on research and development (GERD) increased globally by 31% between 2007 and 2013, rising from USD 1.132 billion in 2007 to USD 1.478 billion in 2013. Research spending grew more rapidly than the global economy over the same period (20%).

The USA still leads, with 28% of global investment in research and development (R&D), followed by China (20%) – now ahead of the European Union (19%) – and Japan (10%). The Russian Federation’s share dropped from 2.0% to 1.7% between 2009 and 2013.

Many low and middle-income countries have used the commodity boom to increase their own commitment to research, including Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Malaysia and Turkey. In Central Asia, however, research spending remains low, at 0.2–0.4% of GDP. It is slightly higher in Belarus, which is not well-endowed in natural resources (0.7% of GDP), and Ukraine, which has suffered repeated economic crises (0.8% of GDP).

In the Russian Federation, ‘paradoxically, the rapid economic growth fuelled by the commodities boom between 2000 and 2008 actually weakened the motivation of enterprises to modernize and innovate… This manifested itself in a boom in imports of advanced technologies and a growing technological dependence on developed countries in certain areas, such as pharmaceuticals and high-tech medical equipment’, observes the report. In May 2014, the Russian president called for a widening of import-substitution programmes to counter this trend.

Although federal budgetary allocations for civil-purpose R&D rose from 63 to 81 billion rubles (in constant 2000 prices) between 2009 and 2013, research intensity actually contracted over the same period, from 1.25% to 1.12% of GDP.

Industry performs the bulk of research (60%) in the Russian Federation but finances just 28% (2013). ‘The low share of industry-financed R&D is a perennial concern’, observes the report. Moreover, this is down from 33% in 2000. Innovation is largely confined to the domestic market. One concern raised by the report is that only one in four innovative enterprises are producing inventions in the environmental field. Most show little interest in ‘green’ technologies.

One of the targets fixed by presidential decree in 2012 is to carry the Russian research effort to 1.77% of GDP by 2015. The government also hopes to increase high-tech industries’ contribution to economic growth.

Worldwide, the number of researchers has risen by more than 20% since 2007. However, the number of Russian researchers has receded slightly, causing its world share to drop from 7.3% to 5.7%.

One in five researchers live in the European Union (22%), followed by China (19%), which now counts more researchers than the USA (17%).