Staunton, April 22 – Assessing the success of an advanced country in terms of high technology production is no easy thing, scholars at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics say. But one promising measure is to consider how much it exports and imports in this sector as compared to others.
They argue “Russia is now at a fork in the road.” If it continues on its current course, with universities and startup companies in decline, it may stay in the group of countries that is lagging “perhaps forever.” To avoid that, it needs to adopt new policies to produce breakthroughs in development and sales (conf.hse.ru/2021/ and iq.hse.ru/news/463561256.html).
Eleven countries, which are involved in exports and imports of advanced technology to the tune of 10,000 US dollars per capita or more each year, are the leaders in this sector. Russia is not among them. Instead, it ranks among the 35 others which are involved in such trade but at a much lower level, the HSE experts say.
Among the reasons for this is the declining quality of Russian universities, the microscopically small number of startup companies where high technology often develops, and government focus on exporting goods from this sector such as arms and nuclear power equipment where breakthroughs are less noticeable.
Having fallen into the cluster of the laggards, the scholars continue, means that Russia is losing its place “in the generation of ideas and patents in high technology branches” and that in turn has made it less able to compete internationally in sales even as it has made it more dependent on importing high tech goods from others.
That creates a vicious circle for Russia, one the authorities need to recognize and then address, the HSE researches conclude. If they fail to do both, the future of the country is bleaker than they imagine because Russia will find itself ever further behind in the research and development sectors on which countries depend to keep up.