The National Association of innovation regions (AIRR) summed up the rankings of innovative activity of regions for 2016 to identify regions that show the best performance in promoting the development of science and innovation.
The study involved all Russian regions. Thirthy eighth place was taken by the Vologda Oblast in 2016 (last year it was 58th in the ranking). In Russia’s North-West Federal district, the Vologda Region takes the middle position.
The share of organizations engaged in technological innovation in the region in 2016 was 5.6% (in Russia - 7.3%, in the north-western federal district - 7.1%).
The share of innovative products in the total goods shipped in 2016 made up 4.3% (Russia's average level is 8.5 % and that of the north-western federal district - 5.1%).
The level of innovation activity of organizations of the region in 2016 amounted to 6% (in 2015 it made up 5.5%). Russia's average level is 8.4 % and that of the north-western federal district - 8.3%. In some branches of industry this indicator is significantly higher: in research and development - 22,2%, in chemical production - 20%.
The elements of innovation infrastructure are being actively created in the region. It includes over 30 objects – universities, scientific research institutions, a business incubator, an agency for urban development, a fund of support of small- and medium businesses, the Vologda Chamber of Commerce and Industry, innovation companies attached to universities, an innovation technology centre, a technopark and others.
An analysis of the level of innovation by economic activity shows that the following sectors demonstrate values of this indicator above the average. These are chemical industry, metallurgy, manufacture of machinery and equipment, light industry, and food products industry. The high level of development of R & D potential, which is historically typical of these sectors, has unquestionably contributed to the more active promotion of innovation into production. OAO Severstal, OAO Phosagro-Cherepovets, Severstal-Metiz, OAO Vologda Optical and Mechanical Plant are the leading enterprises manufacturing the bulk of innovative products in the Vologda Oblast.
Companies implementing technologies or introducing products that are new to the region and to the country are OAO Severstal and OAO Severstal-Metiz. The quality management systems of these companies have been found to conform to technical specifications of international standards.
OAO Severstal, one of the world's leading vertically integrated steel and steel related mining companies, takes an active part in international exhibitions and fairs. It is the recipient of numerous European and American awards, the Gold Star International award for quality and the Golden Mercury. Innovation techniques developed by the company are registered in a database of the Federal Agency for intellectual property, patents and trade marks "100 Russia's Best Inventions". Severstal's activity in the sphere of ecology was given a positive assessment at the contest "100 Russia’s Best Companies. Ecology and Ecological Management".
As one of the global leaders on the agricultural chemicals market, PhosAgro-Cherepovets intends to maintain high growth rates, raise production and management efficiency, and implement state-of-the-art innovation technologies.
PhosAgro cooperates closely with the Scientific Research Institute for Fertilisers and Insectofungicide (NIUIF) – a research & development institute specialising in research in the area of phosphate rock processing technologies, the production of phosphate rock and phosphoric acids and nitrogen mineral fertilisers. NIUIF specialists participate in the drafting of PhosAgro’s modernisation programme, and also research the possible implementation of environmentally sound and resource-saving technologies.
PhosAgro-Cherepovets began construction of a new, energy efficient ammonia production plant with a capacity of 760 ths tonnes/year. It will be the first ammonia line of such capacity in contemporary Russia. Total investments into the production facility and related infrastructure are expected to exceed RUB 25 billion. The commissioning of the new ammonia plant is planned for 2017.
The highest innovative activity is demostrated by large enterprises, usually distinguished by more stable financial conditions and diversified ranges of economic activities, and possessing sufficient fixed assets. However the last years were notable for the increasing innovative activity of middle-sized and small enterprises.
The role of higher educational institutions as centers for the growth of innovation activity in the Vologda Oblast is great. The educational system promotes the generation, dissemination, and commercialization of new knowledge and technologies enhancing the competitiveness of higher educational institutions in the scientific-technical and educational services spheres.
Higher educational institutions possess powerful intellectual potential, which will help in forming collectives of specialists who are highly qualified in a wide range of fields of innovation activity, including the production and marketing of new inventions throughout the entire innovation process cycle using already accumulated experience in the creation and operation of new economic forms of innovative and commercial activity. Getting scientists, instructors, specialists, undergraduates, and graduate students involved in innovation activity is also one of the basic goals.
Vologda's universities serve as an advanced centre of education, research and culture in Russia's North. Doctors of Science, Candidates of Science are involved in scientific work. Post-graduate students pursue further research at universities.
In order to implement innovation projects it is necessary to organize appropriate training for personnel to work on innovation activities in education and scientific-technical enterprises.
Another factor promoting innovations is creation of industrial parks in the region. The Sheksna Industrial Park and the Sokol Industrial park are economic-technological development areas in the Vologda Oblast. They are entitled to preferential policies as both an economic and technological area and as a national-level high-tech industrial park. The industrial parks encourage the development of industries and businesses which are economically efficient, high in added value and technology intensive.
Other key points include creating a system for providing information through all stages of the innovation cycle, conditions for close cooperation between science and industry and industry and the market, a legal system and environment for technology commercialization with the requisite protection for domestic scientific-technical developments, and conditions for attracting private investments to innovation activity. Implemented with the help of state innovation programs, the concentration of funds on infrastructure creation in the scientific-technical spheres will, with the help of the newly created mechanism, promote an effective solution to the problem of intensifying innovation activity.
The basic goals of the innovation activity on the territory of the Vologda Oblast are the following:
- development of the infrastructure of the innovation complex;
- training and retraining of personnel capable of converting intellectual property to salable goods under market conditions stimulating the development of top-priority fields of scientific-technical research;
- providing grants for research and innovation work;
- commercialization of new knowledge and technologies creating conditions for honest competition and entrepreneurship;
- encouraging inter-regional cooperation;
- providing incentives and support for innovation activity.
The Vologda Oblast Government innovative policy is aimed at development and efficient use of scientific and technical potential, growing contribution of science and technology into economic development, increasing production efficiency and the products competitiveness, improvement of ecological environment.