A few popular facts about the resource potential of BRICS countries: they account for about 1/4 of the global landmass, 1/4 of the global GDP, and more than 40% of the world’s population. Watching the development of this international association created in 2006 has been important right from the beginning.For 8 years ISSEK has been participating in an international project to study the specific features of BRICS’s national innovation systems (NIS). Earlier this spring the participants gathered to discuss the project’s new phase.
The next stage of the BRICS project, pursuing much more ambitious objectives, was launched at the Systems of Innovation and Development seminar on 25—26 March, 2014 in Brasilia (Brazil). The seminar was hosted by the Centre for Strategic Studies and Management of Science, Technology and Innovation (CGEE) with which the ISSEK maintains active research partnership, and the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology. The HSE’s Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge was represented by Alexander Chulok, deputy director of the Foresight Centre, and Stanislav Zaichenko, senior research fellow at the Centre for S&T, Innovation and Information Policies.
Prior to the expert seminar in Brazil STI ministers of BRICS countries met in Cape Town on 9—12 February, 2014. Russia was represented by the deputy minister of education and science Lyudmila Ogorodova. According to the ministry’s website, 'the participants discussed a Memorandum of understanding on cooperation in science, technology, and innovation, and identified specific areas for BRICS countries’ cooperation in this field. These include food security, nanotechnology, new energy sources, science parks, incubators, etc.'.
The first priority for the BRICS project’s new stage is to secure recognition and support from governments, and the active involvement of academic and business communities. A five-party memorandum on cooperation of expert organisations is planned to be adopted in the near future, reflecting the shared vision of the project’s further development, goals and objectives, and specific steps to be taken.
Officials from Brazil and China who took part in the seminar gave high marks to the presented research results, and expressed their deep interest in continuing the BRICS project, willingness to provide support, and cooperate at the highest level. Consensus was reached regarding the need to develop a research strategy for the next period, taking into account the agreements made during the Cape Town summit — particularly regarding steady development of pragmatic, open partnership. The seminar participants agreed that at the next stage of the project they should move on from sharing experience to setting up long-term multilevel cooperation of the five countries in such areas as industrial, STI policy, academic exchanges and competence development, international financial relations, etc.
The seminar participants agreed that the BRICS project initiatives should be developed proactively —developing a systemic, coordinated response to existing and expected global challenges, in the framework of the five countries’ specific visions.
Against the background of increasingly acute global challenges, the BRICS countries’ economic trajectories are beginning to change dramatically. The seminar participants discussed various aspects associated with finding new mechanisms for sustainable growth and development for the five countries. Particular attention was paid to the new industrialisation concept, and its role in achieving sustainable development.
The learning and development of innovation systems were discussed, especially regarding science and technology — including higher education, life-long learning, integration of education and science — which make it possible to achieve the level of productivity required for innovation-based growth.
Public procurement and its role in promoting demand for innovations was identified as a new area for the project. In BRICS countries governments play a major role as a top-priority (to innovative companies) consumer of goods and services. BRICS countries also show a high inter-regional disparity in terms of innovation-based, technological, and socio-economic development. The experts presented an analysis of local challenges and regional innovation policy trends in their respective countries, and discussed such government initiatives as supporting population mobility, social inclusion at regional level, etc. The national health systems were seen as further evidence of social inequality, and a high-priority long-term challenge. Possible innovation-based development trajectories for medical services provision systems proper were discussed, and for related industries including pharmaceuticals.
Foresight studies play an increasingly important role in organising and coordinating interaction between high-level stakeholders. No wonder that the BRICS project meeting participants discussed the prospects for building an international foresight platform, and a systemic information framework to promote and organise cooperation between a wide range of stakeholders — and primarily government agencies, companies, universities, research institutions, development institutes, etc. It was proposed firstly to establish and support relevant databases, and secondly to publish annual detailed international analytical reports on innovation-based development in each country. The participants also discussed the feasibility of establishing a foundation to finance joint innovation projects in the BRICS countries.
The ISSEK staff, in particular members of two divisions — the Centre for S&T, Innovation and Information Policies and the Foresight Centre — will continue to play an active role in the new stage of the BRICS project.