Technological innovation, often fueled by government-led research and development (R&D), has been the driving force for industrial growth. The best opportunities to improve living standards s come from science and technology. Countries able to access, generate, and apply scientific knowledge have a competitive edge. And high-quality scientific input improves public policy.

  • Research and development and scientific and technical journal articles The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics collects data on researchers, technicians, and expenditure on R&D through surveys and from other international sources. R&D covers basic research, applied research, and experimental development.

    Data on researchers and technicians are calculated as full-time equivalents. Scientific and technical article counts are from journals classified by the Institute for Scientific Information’s Science Citation Index (SCI) and Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI). Counts are based on fractional assignments; articles with authors from different countries are allocated proportionately to each country. The SCI and SSCI databases cover the core set of scientific journals but may exclude some of local importance and may reflect some bias toward English- language journals.

    R&D expenditures include all expenditures for R&D performed within a country, including capital costs and current costs (wages and associated costs of researchers, technicians, and supporting staff and other current costs, including noncapital purchases of materials, supplies, and R&D equipment such as utilities, reference materials, subscriptions to libraries and scientific societies, and lab materials).

  • High-technology exports The method for determining high-technology exports was developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in collaboration with Eurostat. It takes a “product approach” (as distinguished from a “sectoral approach”) based on R&D intensity (expenditure divided by total sales) for groups of products from Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States. Because industrial sectors specializing in a few high technology products may also produce low-technology products, the product approach is more appropriate for international trade. The method takes only R&D intensity into account, but other characteristics of high technology are also important, such as knowhow, scientific personnel, and technology embodied in patents. Considering these characteristics would yield a different list.
  • Patents and trademarks A patent is an exclusive right granted for a specified period (generally 20 years) for a new way of doing something or a new technical solution to a problem— an invention. The invention must be of practical use and display a characteristic unknown in the existing body of knowledge in its field.

    Most countries have systems to protect patentable inventions. The international Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) provides a two-phase system for filing patent applications. An applicant files an international application for which eligible countries are automatically designated. The application is searched and published, and, optionally, a supplementary international search or preliminary examination can be conducted. In the national or regional phase the applicant requests national processing of the application and initiates the national search and granting procedure in the countries where protection is sought. International applications under the treaty provide for a national patent grant only—there is no international patent. The national filing represents the applicant’s seeking of patent protection for a given territory, whereas international filings, while representing a legal right, do not accurately reflect where patent protection is sought. Resident filings are those from residents of the country concerned. Nonresident filings are from applicants abroad. For regional offices such as the European Patent Office, applications from residents of any member state of the regional patent convention are considered nonresident filings. Some offices (notably the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) use the residence of the inventor rather than the applicant to classify filings.

    A trademark is a distinctive sign identifying goods or services as produced or provided by a specific person or enterprise. A trademark protects the owner of the mark by ensuring the exclusive right to use it to identify goods or services or to authorize another to use it. Period of protection varies, but a trademark can be renewed indefinitely for an additional fee. Detailed components of trademark filings, available on the World Development Indicators CD-ROM and WDI Online, include applications filed by direct residents (domestic applicants filing directly at a given national or regional intellectual property [IP]office); direct nonresident (applicants from abroad filing directly at a given national or regional IP office); aggregate direct (applicants not identified as direct resident or direct nonresident by the national or regional office); and Madrid (designations received by the national or regional IP office based on international applications filed via the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)–administered Madrid System). Data are based on information supplied to WIPO by IP offices in annual surveys supplemented by data in national IP office reports. Data may be missing for some offices or periods.

Data sources
Data on R&D are provided by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Data on scientific and technical journal articles are from the U.S. National Science Board’s Science and Engineering Indicators . Data on high-technology exports are from the United Nations Statistics Division’s Commodity Trade (Comtrade) database. Data on royalty and license fees are from the International Monetary Fund’s Balance of Payments Statistics Yearbook. Data on patents and trademarks are from the World Intellectual Property Organization’s World Intellectual Property Indicators.

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