What are the key elements of an innovation-driven economy?
There is only one distinguishing feature: economic innovations affect living standards and social customs, result in the redistribution of human resources and change markets. A relevant example is the broad use of PCs, which started the transition from an industrial to information society.
How can the transition to an innovation-driven economy influence Russia?
An economy can develop on the use of raw materials and innovations alike. Russia has a huge territory rich in natural resources, and therefore should do what it can do best, ie produce oil and gas more efficiently, encourage their deeper conversion, and secure strict compliance with environmental standards.
By doing this, we will make natural resource extraction a more highly technological business and increase the added value of its products. In other words, we will earn more by using innovation, rather than simply by increasing output. Russia's resources sector is the main and most apparent sphere for innovations, especially since there is solvent demand in that sector. Innovations and investment are closely related to each other.
Unfortunately, only the commodities sector has solvent demand in Russia.
That is not true. Many other sectors have a high demand for knowledge-based products, and the government also needs them for defence, space exploration and power generation. The government is encouraging the rapid development of education, housing construction, agriculture and medicine, all of which need new technologies and production methods.
There is sufficient demand for the products of science and engineering, but we do not always know how to use the results of the research. Russia is a global nuclear power, but it hardly ever applies nuclear technologies to medicine, whereas other countries widely use isotope diagnostics and proton and neutron capture therapy. These sectors are only starting to grow in Russia.
It takes a lot of time and money to create innovative technology. Why not buy it?
This is not as simple as it may seem at first glance. The creation and application of innovative methods when there is relevant demand will boost Russia's domestic market, whereas technologies bought in other countries will not ensure the required speed and scale of national development.
Russia must proceed step-by-step, integrating in multinational technological chains and contributing to them. We can and should buy certain technologies, but it is much more important to develop the national market.
There is an objective obstacle to Russia's progress in the international market of high technologies. We can and do make discoveries and create new products. Much of what the world started using in the past 60 years was invented either in Russia or with the assistance of Russian scientists.
Now Russians must learn to be good businessmen. Russia can become a leading technological power if the state creates conditions for innovations.
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