Innovation is a key driver of production growth per worker, that is, productivity growth, and therefore of citizens’ standards.
In the period before the Industrial Revolution, innovations were rare and sporadic, and their result was a moderate increase in production volumes that enabled a higher survival rate and moderate population growth but not a rise in citizen standards. At the end of the Middle Ages, the standard of citizens, both at European and world level, was not significantly higher than at the beginning of the new era.
Since the 17th century, the volume of innovation in Western European countries and later in the whole world has been increasing rapidly, leading to enormous population growth, but also to an increase in production and consumption per capita by 10-15 times. So the important question is what drives mass innovation and how it is sustained?
The spread of ideas of rationalism and the enlightenment, as well as the spread of freedom of thought and research in some Western European countries, was the initial driver of innovation growth.
These philosophical and political ideas have contributed to the introduction of institutional innovations such as property and contract protection, limited copyright protection, fostering competition, the development of financial institutions, etc.
In Western societies, an economic system was gradually established, in which the economic position of an enterprise depended crucially on its innovation rather than its ability to obtain a privileged position by the state.
The Enlightenment, Liberalism, and Socialism, though different in many respects, agreed that expanding education was crucial to the economic and social progress of a country.
The spread of education across the population has contributed to the involvement of talented individuals from all walks of life in the creation of innovation, unlike previous epochs where few individuals from upper social strata were concerned with innovation.
The acceleration of innovation during the 20th century was influenced by the direct involvement of the state in the financing of basic research, for which the private sector is not sufficiently interested, as well as the subsidization of applied research in private enterprises.
In the future, it is expected that innovation will be even more important for economic growth, as nearly two hundred countries are involved in international competition.
The progress of individual countries in the future will depend crucially on their willingness to adopt and create innovation. The issue of the economic development of Serbia and the gradual overtaking of developed countries is strongly linked to the degree to which researchers, enterprises and state institutions are trained and motivated to adopt and create innovations.
The ability to create and innovate largely depends on the quality of education in a country, as well as the amount and efficiency of government and business investment in research and development. According to many indicators, the quality of education in Serbia is low at all levels – from elementary to doctoral studies. This, of course, does not exclude the existence of exceptional individuals and institutions, but the average quality of education is low.
Over the last eight years, the Government has undertaken very limited activities to promote education such as the introduction of dual or the spread of information education.
However, systematic activities for the promotion of education were lacking, and in some segments there were steps backwards, such as mass employment in the state sector of people with dubious degrees, legalization of illegal doctorates, retention of the highest state functions of people with plagiarized doctorates, etc.
Government investment in research in Serbia, measured as a percentage of GDP, is still very modest and rather poorly targeted, so it does not significantly affect the volume and quality of scientific research and innovation. Based on the volume of budget investments and the mechanisms for their allocation, it is quite certain that improving the volume and quality of scientific research work and innovation is not among the Government’s priorities.
The emergence of innovation largely depends on how much individuals are motivated to engage in research, as well as how much the private sector is encouraged to invest in research.
Individuals’ motivation to engage in research is partly due to individual preferences and preferences, while partly to social, financial and non-financial evaluation of innovation.
The individual preferences and preferences of individuals in Serbia are similar to those in other countries, but the social evaluation of innovative activities in Serbia is unfavorable, which has a negative effect on individuals’ willingness to commit to research and innovation. Companies’ willingness to invest in innovation and development depends on how much their profits depend on innovating.
The small investments of enterprises in R&D on the one hand and the high level of corruption on the other indicate that the profit of enterprises in Serbia is still more often dependent on connections with party and state structures than on their innovation, Danas reports.