Efforts to promote STI are related to other policy efforts, such as competition, education, investment, tax and trade policies. For instance, education policy has a major impact on university research and the availability of highly skilled labour in technology intensive firms. Education policies, the intellectual property rights (IPR) regime and a range of other policies are important contributors to an enabling environment for STI, while the international environment needs to be supportive as well.
Data from the gender parity index in school enrolment in tertiary education provides some insights on the advances towards ensuring equal access for women and girls. The data show that in developed regions and SIDS, the number of women and girls enrolled in tertiary education is higher than the number of men and boys. In contrast, in LDCs and LLDCs, women and girls are still disadvantaged in terms of access to tertiary education.
The commitment to scale up investment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education can be measured to some extent by the number of researchers in full-time equivalent per million inhabitants. A majority of researchers is employed in developed countries and the number has increased since 2000. Numbers in developing countries are much smaller and only increased marginally since 2000, especially in LDCs and LLDCs. The growth in SIDS and MICs is caused by increases in just a few countries.
Only in Small Island Developing States has percentage of scholarships as a share of total ODA flows increased between 2010 and 2014. However, when examining the growth in terms of funds, it is important to note that the amount of resources devoted to scholarships has decreased in real terms across the regions examined during the period analysed. Nonetheless, there is some debate as to the appropriateness of this indicator for two reasons. First, it measures ODA flows that are spent in the donor country rather than in developing countries. Second, it does not indicate how many of the students who receive scholarships return to their home country, and thus contribute to development, rather than staying and working in the donor countries.
SIDS have outpaced other developing country groups in the number of total patent applications (direct and PCT national phase entries) since 2000. LDCs since then also almost tripled the number of patent applications, but they still remain at a very low absolute number. In LLDCs, the numbers have been volatile and only increased marginally. Patent applications in developed regions by far exceed those from developing countries. Numbers in developed regions have increased by about 30 per cent since 2000 to a total of more than 1.6 million in 2015.