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Innovations – driver of development

One of the key requirements of the President in his Message was to increase high-tech exports of output to USD18 billion through creating more than 100 new productions. Resources and ways to achieve this goal are set out in the State Program of Innovative Development of the Republic of Belarus for 2021-2025.

At the same time, it is clear that the program as a framework document cannot provide for all details of creating an innovative ecosystem. The biography of each innovation center as an element of this ecosystem is unique. Its development depends on historical features of the region, the business structure, the level of education of the population, the state of industry and the direction of state policy.

Moreover, the conceptual apparatus (namely: technoparks, business incubators, business angels, open innovations and grants) used by experts developing an innovative environment is relatively amorphous and often implies different mechanisms and processes. Despite the fact that these circumstances form the idea of building a creative environment as a kind of art, the number of common challenges faced by almost all innovation centers, is quite typical. And this, of course, requires the study and adoption of proven technologies for solving these problems.

Among basic technologies of innovation management, the following should be noted:

  • business incubation;
  • project financing;
  • horizontal links between participants of innovation centers;
  • technopark infrastructure;
  • building public relations and reputation;
  • management.

Most experts in the field of creating an innovative environment talk about an importance of the territorial proximity of universities and research centers, as well as the formation of horizontal links between innovation centers participants. Among other priorities are:

  • the political will and the existence of a long-term strategy for the innovation center development, which the state (or local authorities) is ready to implement regardless of the delayed return effect (the "patient state" model);
  • effective PR support and a strong brand of the information center;
  • a sustainable business model of the managing company underlying profit generation;
  • independence of the managing company from the innovation center founders (state, university) in decision-making;
  • formation of the innovation center governing bodies from professionals with business experience;
  • the correct definition of the competitive niche of an innovation center against other innovation centers;
  • attracting large high-tech corporations as anchor investors;
  • the correct identification of priority areas of technological development, taking into account local advantages and conditions.

Innovative culture

The issue of innovation culture is not an issue of unique and inimitable conditions for creating innovations. Its role becomes clear when paying attention to the model of "diffusion of innovations" or the dynamics of implementing changes. It is traditionally modeled with an S-shaped (logistic) curve, also reflecting the dynamics of infectious processes and learning processes. Inside this dynamics, the following stages are distinguished: innovators (those creating and being the first to perceive and use the innovation); early adopters (those begining to perceive and use the innovation at the start of its dissemination); early majority (appears during the period of peak use of innovation); late majority (appears in the period of the downward trend of using the innovation); late successors (appear in the decline of the widespread use of innovation). These conditionally listed groups are stages on a derived logistic curve, which contains three phases of development: the first is the formation of a development base (slow growth), the second is a sharp growth, the third is saturation (slow growth). At the same time, one of the main factors which determine the speed of innovation diffusion processes is interpersonal communication between the supporters of this innovation and those hesitating or have not heard anything about the proposed innovation at all.

Unlike operational management, innovations require a completely different culture and, accordingly, the structure of the managing economic processes. Operational business is built on instant and predictable efficiency, while innovation is always associated with planned risk. This requires different values and attitudes – for example, thinking without borders and openness to overcome stereotypes and try novelties, willingness to take responsibility for mistakes due to an increased share of risk, etc.

Innovation and investment strategy for sustainable development

Since innovations can be regarded as a separate segment of the investment market and, accordingly, the result of investing in the creation of a separate new product or process in certain areas of activity, the innovation-related problems are, first of all, the reflection of insufficient development of the investment infrastructure of the Belarusian startup ecosystem. A negative role is played by an insufficient number of independent agencies applying modern methods of efficiency assessment (methods of investment and financial analysis, qualitative methods), which allow them to select the most important characteristics of systems using significance coefficients.

Analytical and forecasting departments at enterprises

Since only understanding of future trends, tendencies and development forecasts can be the basis for creating viable innovations, the relevant structures and institutions (both at enterprises and regulatory state bodies) are required that would be systematically engaged in identifying directions for development dynamics. Forecasting the conditions for project implementation using the break-even principle, as well as forecasting the future market situation (when mastering innovation) using game theory methods that model the behavior of market participants (competitors, consumers, partners, etc.), forecasting macroeconomic conditions affecting the project is extremely important in the framework of successful innovation.

Support Tools

Since small and medium-sized businesses, due to insufficient resources, are aimed at predictable commercial results in the short term, an active role of the state in supporting innovative projects is necessary. State regulation should maintain optimal balance between savings and investments, regulate the movement of monetary assets from savings to consumption. In the future, it is advisable to stimulate the creation of specialized innovative banks, funds for long-term lending to commercial banks through establishing appropriate tax benefits, as well as the state "fund of funds", which is the infrastructure for the development of many industry funds to attract private investment.

The implementation of the described approach and innovative management technologies will make it possible to create not only modern engines, gearboxes and other key components for our industrial equipment within the framework of import substitution, which the President spoke about. It will lead our economy to a new order, and society – to social stability standards.