Do you mind a bit of surrealism? In the summer of 2016 the Chinese Communist Party has publically announced its Innovative Technologies Development Strategy.
Chinese communists truly believe that scientific and technological advance and innovative solutions will inevitably strengthen the state. The Chinese think long-term, therefore by 2020 they plan to join the ranks of innovative countries, in 2030s – to become one of the leaders, and in another ten years – to become the most innovative country in the world. Having spent almost a week at the Third International Internet Conference in Beijing, I am willing to believe in the reality of these plans.
Now back to the surrealism. For a person born in the USSR the combination of “communism-innovation” sounds not only strange, but even grotesque. That is, the way we see it, “innovation” rather goes along with “democracy”, “reforms”, but not with communism, of course. The policy of People’s Republic of China shows us that no matter what the ruling political force is, what is important is its way of thinking and the values it pursues.
And the second point. Having had many meetings in the framework of the conference in Beijing, I came back home inspired. If the country of constant imitation has declared innovation its strategy, why can’t we – the country of advanced engineers, technicians and IT guys – do the same? Because we are thrilled to bits when we adopt a law on electronic tickets in public transport. When in the developed countries the things aimed at simplifying the lives of citizens on the basis of existing infrastructure are easily adopted by decisions of local councils, in Ukraine it takes a year of continued fights behind the scenes to finally make that happen! And by the way, a question arises: how are we going to provide this infrastructure, to make it present everywhere all over Ukraine, to ensure the e-ticket is available both in the buses running in the country’s capital and in the village buses as well?
Anyway, let’s leave Ukrainian village buses for now and get back to China. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and INSEAD Business School have published their annual seventh “Global Innovation Index”. The authors explore the innovative potential of more than 100 countries worldwide. While presenting the ranking, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said, “Investments in innovations are an important condition for increasing the rate of long-term economic growth. Innovations have become a priority for all the stakeholders.”
Thus China has become the first medium income country to make it to 25th place in the “Global Innovation Index” rating. This is not surprising. In recent years, China has been actively developing in the fields of mobile technology, biotechnology, and medical services. To make this possible, the efforts of volunteers and private investors were not enough, therefore a state program was adopted, a separate system of governmental bodies was established, which includes the government, non-governmental organizations, experts, etc.
When analyzing the “Global Innovation Index”, among other criteria, I was mostly interested in the one the authors call “the quality of innovation”. This is the level of higher education, the number of scientific publications and inventions pending international patents. Cross-border exchange of knowledge and platforms for testing and application of innovations promote the quality of innovations. To this end, so far we can only be consumers and can hardly act as a platform, at least in comparison with China. In addition to the quality of innovation, the amount of investment into science, the availability of innovative projects in the state development strategy, etc. are estimated.
In the rating of the world’s innovators Ukraine is on 56th place. Let’s see how the situation changes as of year-end 2017. The beginning of the year is promising – let us mention the electronic ticket again. However, there are troubles connected with the infrastructure, outdated technology, reactionary local officials and transportation companies that only think about earning a salary. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to diminish the importance of the adopted innovation or neutralize the efforts of the great number of people who continue working in the interest of innovations in Ukraine. I stand for a systematic approach, for a solid foundation. And getting back to the experience of China, where many people have done a lot of things, we have to admit that the most important step was made by the government officials.