Countries Try New Approaches to Innovation

Today, the OECD released the latest edition of its Science, Technology and Industry (STI) Scoreboard, which is published every two years. The main finding of the STI report is the trend toward the re-orientation of government policies to foster innovation - away from indirect subsidies and direct spending in R&D and toward tax breaks and reinforcement of industry-science linkages. Indeed, two thirds of the 30 OECD member countries now offer generous tax breaks to businesses, up from 12 countries in 1995. Of these nations, Spain, China, Mexico and Portugal provide the largest tax subsidies. This interesting development signals that governments are increasingly trusting of private business to know what’s best for innovation and are promoting a laissez-faire approach to the economy of knowledge.

The report also includes a number of additional findings, addressing new areas of research such as activities in bio-, nano-, and environmental technologies. Investment in R&D is now growing in proportion to GDP, in contrast with the late 1990s, which saw a growth rate of investment in R&D larger than the growth rate of GDP. Recent years have also seen great leaps in international cooperation, such as through co-authorship of scientific publications and inventions across countries. The BRIC economies and South Africa are taking particularly significant steps to invest in research, patenting, and high-tech industries.

For more information on international cooperation to boost knowledge, as well as more details on the various types of tax subsidies that countries are employing to promote innovation, read the entire report here.