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Patent Activity of SMEs in Russia: Success Strategies and Obstacles

Student: Aleksandra Semikrasova

Supervisor: Ekaterina Streltsova

Faculty: Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge

Educational Programme: Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation (Master)

Year of Graduation: 2021

In all countries, including Russia, one of the governmental key tasks is to achieve high living standards for citizens. There is a variety of approaches and tools aimed at attaining optimal welfare for the population, such as modernization of enterprises following scientific and technological progress, stimulation of employment growth, etc. Many of these approaches involve small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which are considered as important drivers of countries’ economic growth and innovative development. Nowadays organizations of this type play a significant role in the national economies of developed countries. Many factors determine economic success and overall progress of SMEs, one of them being their inventive activity and IP-related strategies. Scholars argue patent activity might be beneficial to these companies because it provides certain incentives in the competitive environment. Additionally, to financial returns and protection of non-material assets, patents improve the organization’s reputation and image, thus increasing its attractiveness for venture capital investors and clients. However, several studies have demonstrated that SMEs patent their technologies less often than larger enterprises, and tend to avoid the usage of other companies' patents. To explain this tendency, researchers analyze the challenges which SMEs face with when dealing with IP system. All discussed studies are based on the analysis of SMEs in foreign countries. In Russia – which might be considered as a special case when it comes to SMEs – the knowledge on patent activity of these market players is extremely limited. The country is dominated by corporations in various sectors, and the share of SMEs in GDP is only 22.5% (as for 2019). The predominant number of Russian SMEs is concentrated in the tertiary sector (over 50%). The innovative potential of Russian SMEs seems to be underdeveloped and underused. Several indicators demonstrate the low innovation activity of these business structures, which negatively affects the future competitiveness. This contradicts to some research findings, which demonstrate that SMEs are one of the main sources for the implementation of innovations in high-tech sectors. Whether low innovation activity correlates to similar contribution of SMEs into the national technological development is a question which is currently understudied. In particular, to my knowledge, there has been no academic attempt made so far to measure the patent activity of Russian SMEs, to understand what drives it and, on the contrary, what impedes. Nevertheless, this topic seems to be of high importance as a better use of SME technological potential can contribute to the transformation of the country and its technological development. Due to certain limitations, the analysis of SMEs' patenting in Russia has not been investigated by national scientists and therefore the lack of studies in this field was formed. On the one hand, Russian research and scientific substantiation of SME activities were mainly published in the post-Soviet period, because of the absence of laws on the organization of independent enterprises until the early 1990s. On the other hand, the significant limitation for previous publications is the data availability due to the inaccessibility of information gathered by Federal Service for Intellectual Property. According to these justifications, a research gap in this field was identified and therefore, it was decided to fill it. The study was initiated to answer three specific questions: (1) What is the SMEs contribution to patent activity in Russia? (2) What specific features and business strategies help a higher patent activity strategy? (3) What are the barriers that hinder the patent activity of Russian SMEs? The research is divided into two parts: the first stage outlines the background based on the literature review and statistical analysis; the second stage contains an empirical analysis of collected data from in-depth interviews. The first part of the research answers the first research question and is based on unique data provided by Federal Service for Intellectual Property. The second main stage is based on in-depth interviews (13 interviews were conducted) with Top or Upper management of Russian SMEs. It is focused on the identification of incentives and barriers for the patent activity. Subsequently, key recommendations for the development of these activities for SMEs and government departments are provided.

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