Science gap shrinks between 'BRICK' and G7 countries

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A new report from Thomson Reuters reveals that the gap between 'BRICK' (Brazil, Russia, India, China and Korea) and G7 countries is closing, thanks to investment in scientific research, innovation and education.

China and South Korea outpace the rest of the BRICK nations in key innovation metrics, according to the report, 'Building Bricks:  Exploring the Global Research Impact of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Korea,' which tracks global research publications, R&D spend and patent filings over a 10-year period to gauge benchmarks of economic innovation in the BRICK countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Korea.

The Thomson Reuters study finds that China and South Korea have made larger investments, produced more published research and filed a greater number of patent applications over the past decade than the rest of the group. The strong culture of intellectual property protection and broad-based economic growth in these nations has resulted in more literature citations, on par with some European Union countries, it says. In addition, the research revealed how each BRICK nation has its own, unique profile. For example, while South Korea is prominent in materials and computer science, Brazil’s focus is on agriculture, plant and animal sciences.

Key observations in the report include:

  • China’s and South Korea’s R&D Investments Soar: Industrial confidence, as measured by the total percentage of business spending on R&D, in China and South Korea has reached new highs. Between 2000 and 2010, China saw its total business expenditure on R&D grow from 59.96 per cent of gross national expenditure on R&D to 74.45 per cent.  South Korea had an even higher level of business investment in R&D, reaching 74.8 per cent of gross national R&D expenditure by 2010.

  • China, South Korea Contribute to Global Patent Surge: In 2010, China and South Korea accounted for 84 per cent of all BRICK patent filings, helping to drive overall growth of 14.9 per cent in patent filings worldwide over the five years between 2006 and 2010.  Not only did China file the most patents globally (526,412), but it has shown double digit year-on-year growth since 2009, ultimately reflecting six times as many patents as it filed a decade ago.

  • BRICKs Increase Scientific Research: In 2000, China produced roughly 25,000 research papers per year. In 2011, its output exceeded 150,000: a 600 per cent increase. With this increase comes high academic value as well. In 2010, China filed over 1,000 papers that were cited in the top  one percent for their subject.

  • Russia Excels in Physical Sciences: Scientific literature output in Russia is most active in the fields of physics, space science and geosciences, with physics leading in the area of the most citations to scientific literature as well.   In terms of patent innovation, Russia is most active in the field of nucleonics, a reflection of its dependence on nuclear energy.

  • India Leads in Pharmaceutical Innovation; Brazil in Petroleum and Agriculture Chemicals:  Of all the BRICK nations, India is by far the leader in terms of pharmaceutical patent activity, with approximately twice as much activity as the next closest BRICK country, Russia. Brazil is most active in petroleum-related and agricultural chemical patents, outpacing all other BRICK nations in these areas.

  • Data for this report were compiled using Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge and Derwent World Patents Index.