Evaluation Standards of Science, Technology and Innovation System
KACST is continuously working on the development of techniques to measure the factors related to R&D activities. In addition, KACST is working on assessing the performance of the components that affect the ecosystem as a whole, using the following mechanisms:
- Periodically collect specific, accurate, and reliable measurements to identify the factors related to the performance of the research, development, and innovation ecosystem.
- Develop a set of key performance indicators to monitor the success of the R&D ecosystem as well as to identify gaps.
- Develop monitoring tools to evaluate the economical and social effects of R&D activities.
- Submit periodic reports on the performance of the R&D ecosystem to KACST’s Board of Directors.
The First Science, Technology, and Innovation Plan (Maarifah 1)
The implementation of the first Science, Technology, and Innovation Plan (Maarifah 1), which started in 2007 and ended in 2014, has had a great effect on the R&D activities in the Kingdom. As a result of implementing Maarifah 1, remarkable growth in many global indicators was observed. These include number of registered patents, number of published peer-reviewed papers, and number of citations, which are considered the main outputs of scientific research. This growth resulted in making the Kingdom leads the Arab countries in scientific publications (papers and patents) as well as achieving high ranks in the quality of publications.
The number of scientific publications has increased dramatically with the inception of Maarifah 1 in 2008. In particular, for the period 2008 to 2014, the number of published papers has tripled. That being said, the number of scientific publications has slightly dropped in 2015 (when compared to 2014). This drop is concurrent with the lack of funding for approved projects of Maarifah 1 that took place in 2015. In addition, this dropping trend is expected to continue in 2016 and 2017 for the same aforementioned reasons.
These findings are compatible with the results reported in Nature’s Index, which is a database of author affiliation information collected from research articles published in an independently-selected group of 68 high-quality science journals. The number of scientific publications in the Kingdom (based on Nature’s Index) has dropped by more than 8.5% in 2016 compared to 2015.
It is expected that the R&D activities will pick up pace with the launching of the “Universities and Scientific Centers Support”, which is one of KACST initiatives in the NTP 2020. This initiative consists of seven programs that are targeted to support R&D projects in the Kingdom. KACST has announced that the official launching of this initiative will be in April 2017. By implementing these programs, KACST is looking forward to achieve one of its NTP KPIs (i.e., to reach 20,000 published peer-reviewed research papers by Saudi scholars by 2020). Although, KACST is launching this initiative in April 2017, it is expected that its effects on number of publications will be observed by the end of 2018.
Despite that the number of scientific publications did not grow in 2015 compared to 2014, the Kingdom has maintained a steady growth in the quality of publications index. The ranking of the Kingdom in the citations index has grown in the period of 2011 to 2015 to reach 1.18, while it continued to grow in 2015 by reaching 1.38, exceeding the global normalized rate.
The Kingdom has witnessed a remarkable growth in the number of filed and registered patents in conjunction with launching Maarifah 1 in 2007. The growth can be observed clearly starting from the year 2009. The number of filed patents continued to grow steadily until 2015, where it dropped by 45% compared to 2014. The suspension of the financial support by Maarifah 1 has contributed to this drop.
It is expected this dropping trend will continue in 2016 and 2017. For the registered patents, the Kingdom has seen a 10% growth in the number of registered patents in 2015 compared to 2014, which hints to the high quality of the filed patents.
With the launching of KACST’s initiative in the NTP 2020 to support research and innovation conducted by universities and research centers in the Kingdom, it is expected that the number of filed and registered patents will pickup again in the near future.
As part of KACST’s KPIs in the NTP, KACST has put a target of 5000 patents to be registered by Saudis until 2020. KACST has designed new programs targeted for the research and innovation community in the Kingdom to help achieve this target.
In regard to other indicators, the Kingdom has reached an advanced position in the “Global Innovation Index”, which is maintained by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). In this index, Saudi Arabia is ranked first among the Arab countries, third in the region, and 43rd in the world. It is expected that the Kingdom continues to maintain a good position in this index in the upcoming years.