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Flows and Networks in Global Innovation System Among Top R&D Nations

Journal Title BRG Institute
Published Date March 08, 2021
Research Type


Flows of people and information--networks of interconnected innovators--reveal dynamics about the global information system. Research and development (R&D) capacity, measured by spending, articles, patents, and high-tech trade, has expanded impressively among 25 leading nations examined in this report. Where once the USA held a global leadership position, now, a cluster of nations lead in different features of the innovation system. These leading nations are interconnected in many ways.

Flows of people provide fresh ideas and talent. Prior to the pandemic, North America and the European Union (EU) attracted the largest numbers of visiting scholars. R&D per capita spending is strongly correlated to a nation’s attractiveness to visiting scholars. North America and the EU also attracted large numbers of students to study in elite universities, which served as highly attractive assets–although student flows are not tied to, nor do they contribute significantly to R&D. Moreover, educated migrants are attracted to wealthier countries for work, but these movements are not correlated to R&D spending or output.

Flows and Networks in Global Innovation System among Top R&D Nations
C Wagner, KB Poland, X Yan