A study by the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases (one of the most respected in the world in neglected diseases) questions the division of countries between industrialized, developing and underdeveloped. According to the research, the concept of Innovative Developing Countries (IDCs) to define a group of nations with scientific impact programs would be an alternative to traditional segmentation.
Discussion on the role of IDCs in the control and prevention of epidemics was carried out on the basis of collaborative research networks on zika and Ebola. The core role of Brazil, qualified in the study within the IDC concept, in zika research network, was reflected in the leadership of Brazilian institutions in the papers on the epidemic and in the ability to control the outbreak. In contrast, African countries that are not defined as IDCs, affected by the Ebola epidemic, have participated less expressively in the disease research network and had predominantly external experts to control the epidemic.
Proposed for the first time in 2005, the term IDC challenged the common sense that developing countries would not have the capacity for innovation. Originally, the concept was defined from an overall ranking of the countries with the largest number of patents filed in the United States. In the new paper, the proposal was to include the number of patents filed internationally. Thus, according to the results of the survey, the updated list of IDCs has China as the first place, surpassing the USA, India and Japan. Brazil loses three places in the ranking and occupies the 15th place.
The research also examines the contribution of IDCs in topics of national interest. To do so, the researchers looked at scientific publications from IDCs affiliated authors to show that these countries invest above the world average in development and research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). "The capacity for research and innovation that IDCs already have and their significant participation in knowledge production networks can significantly contribute to mankind achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) more quickly," says Carlos Morel, one of Fiocruz researchers who participated in the study.
"Our research clearly shows a prominent role of IDCs in innovation in health, development and research on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and in the preparation, prevention and control of epidemics," the researcher says. According to Morel, the concept of IDCs, since its creation, has had a positive impact on the innovation analysis of countries. In addition, the researcher points out, by considering the response of nations to the epidemics of zika and Ebola the concept shows the importance of having a solid health infrastructure and research collaboration networks for a rapid and effective response in cases of health crises.
In a comparison between three indexes of innovation, the results were diverse. When Bloomberg (one of the world's leading providers of information for the financial market) is the index considered, the top three countries are South Korea, Sweden and Germany. The global index of innovation shows Switzerland, Sweden and Holland in the first places. According to the index developed by Inpi and Fiocruz researchers, China, Japan and the United States are the world's leading innovators.