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Regular version of the site

Giulio Perani: ‘I am always very happy to meet students and researchers from the HSE’

On June 14, 2013 a visiting expert Giulio Perani delivered a lecture on 'Measuring Innovation beyond Enterprises: Options and Challenges' at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics (HSE). The event was organised by the HSE ISSEK Research Laboratory for Economics of Innovation.

Giulio Perani is Senior Researcher at the Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT), Service of Structural Business and Institutions Statistics. He is the Head of the ISTAT’s Unit for Statistics on Research with responsibility for the development and production of S&T indicators in Italy. Giulio Perani is the Italian Delegate to several EUROSTAT Working Groups (including the WG on R&D and Innovation Statistics) and is currently member of the Board of the OECD Working Group of National Experts on Science and Technology Indicators (NESTI). He is actively involved in research and consulting activities for international institutions including the OECD, the European Commission and the World Bank. Giulio has contributed to several projects of technical assistance to improve S&T statistics in EU and non-European countries.

The presentation focused on the current status of innovation statistics in the OECD and EU contexts and on the prospects for improving the guidelines provided by the OECD’s Oslo Manual on collecting innovation data.

Giulio Perani gave a special interview to HSE news service.

— Can you describe some of the challenges currently facing researchers in statistics in Europe?

— Even though statistical indicators, both social and economic indicators, have a key role in allowing policy-makers to closely monitor the state of the current economic crisis and its effects, state budgets are shrinking everywhere across Europe and fewer and fewer resources are available for statistical services. Official statistical institutions are frequently focusing on identifying “negative priorities”, which includes those statistics which are time-consuming and resource-intensive for both data producers and data providers while, at the same time, less frequently requested by users. Identifying these areas could save resources, and maintain the statistical quality of indicators which are more in demand. In terms of challenges, I would say that the main challenge today is to keep producing sound data but with less human and financial resources than in the past.

— What would you say is the main task for young researchers?

— As I said, statistics are still a priority for governments, as well as the business community. The spread of information and communication technologies (including the pervasive use of the Internet) makes a huge amount of information available to decision-makers, although this information is mostly quantitative and seldom used to improve our knowledge of the economic and social processes. In order to make use of such an enormous quantity of data (often referred to as “Big Data”) new, skilled statisticians are needed. I see great potential for statisticians in the near future, as long as they are able to master the most advanced techniques of data processing and analysis. I think it’s quite realistic to imagine that virtually all public or private institutions will need at least one statistician in the future.

— You’ve been participating in international projects on statistics in science. What are the major findings?

— I have seen two main phenomena becoming increasingly relevant over recent years. The first is the high correlation between high rates of economic growth and significant results in science and technology. With a few exceptions, scientific research is very demanding in terms of resources and skills and only a few countries can compete with the top performers in these cutting edge fields. The second, which is a complementary, rather than a contradictory trend, is the persistence of high-level competencies in institutions and regions that, even during the economic downturn, have been able to keep their traditions of quality and high educational standards. From this perspective, the measurement of science and technology phenomena is always very challenging as the need to provide a broad picture about the scientific performance of countries and regions should never lead you to overlook the fact that you can find selected cases of excellence in science almost everywhere.

— Could you describe your work with the HSE? How did it start and what are the goals?

— Over the last 15 years, I have been attending, as an Italian delegate, the main international forums aimed at the harmonisation of S&T statistics, chiefly the OECD's Group of experts of S&T indicators. From the very beginning, I have developed a lasting relationship and found common ground for action with one of the delegates from the Russian Federation, Prof. Leonid Gokhberg. Most recently, a formal collaboration has developed and the Italian Statistical Institute supported, some years ago, a range of new statistical activities carried out by the HSE. These joint activities have had a follow on effect, albeit on a less formal basis, with some joint scientific projects currently involving both me and Prof. Gokhberg.

— What are your impressions of the lectures and discussions at the HSE?

— This is not my first experience of lecturing at the HSE and I have to say that I am always very happy to meet students and researchers from the HSE. The audience is knowledgeable and eager for news of the latest developments in terms of S&T measurement and policy in the European Union.

Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for HSE news service

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