New Delhi: India, the second fastest growing major economy in the world after China, has been ranked No. 58 in a study of a country’s innovation prowess—essentially the number of patents per million population filed by the country—by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the research arm of The Economist.
China comes in at No. 59 in a study where Japan, Switzerland and the US come in at the top three positions.
India fared marginally better on a study of innovation enablers (or the ability of a country to facilitate innovation), coming in at No. 50. This index is based on innovation inputs or variables, such as the amount spent on R&D, and innovation environment or issues such as the macroeconomic environment.
While India scores poorly on the data front, it makes up on the perception side: a parallel global study of 485 senior managers by the same firm found India the second-best place to innovate, right after the US.
Sujit Bhattacharya, researcher at the government’s National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies, said the number of patents by itself was not an accurate measure of a country’s innovation ability. “Though patents are one of the strongest indicators of a country’s innovation performance, factors such as realising commercial gain out of your patent, and extracting the maximum possible benefit out of every patent is crucial,” he added.
The EIU study is based on data collected between 2002 and 2006. A forecast by the agency for 2007-2011 expects China to improve its rank by five positions, while India is expected to move up by two.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, China spent $136 billion on research and development in 2006, a 20% increase over the previous year. This was more than Japan’s spend of $130 billion, but still well below that of the US at $330 billion. India spent around $6 billion on R&Dlast year.
The report said the commercial infrastructure in China is modernizing rapidly. Multinational companies are opening research centres in China, lured by the fact that local scientists are paid only about 20% as much as Western scientists. The country’s problems, according to the report, include the rampant theft of intellectual property, academic fraud, weak financial markets, and political meddling in science and research.