Landscape analysis

El Salvador has an approach that mixes public and private efforts to create a National System of Innovation. From the public sector there are two approaches to generate public policies for innovation issues: On the one hand, within the Ministry of Economy in El Salvador, the Direction of Innovation and Quality develops initiatives to encourage and promote a culture of innovation, technological development and quality in the productive sector of the economy.

In that sense, in 2012, the Direction of Innovation and Quality published the National Public Policy of Innovation, Science and Technology. In this document the government states that the objective of this public policy is to promote the scientific and technological research through the dissemination of knowledge and innovation. This process is expected to improve competitiveness, transform the productive sector and increase the economic growth.

On the other hand, innovation is also approached from the public sector as an educational issue. In that sense, the Vice Ministry of Science and Technology from the Ministry of Education created the Management of the National System of Innovation, in charge of creating the institutional framework for the different agents that are part of the National System of Innovation.

However, it appears that both the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Education, develop the efforts in public policy in innovation independently of each other, atomising the efforts. This generates a weaker institutionality and redundancy of activities reducing the impact that the government can have on the innovation policies.

According to the Global Innovation Index from the World Intellectual Property Organisation, in 2017, El Salvador ranked 103 out of 127 countries. El Salvador annually invests in innovation initiatives approximately between 0.1 and 0.2 percent of its GDP, which is very low, considered the international standard of at least 1 percent of GDP.

Currently the Salvadoran government carries out various initiatives to promote innovation. The Pixel Awards, given annually to digital animators, video game creators and audiovisual producers, is a remarkable effort to promote creative industries in the country, even though it is not actually innovation in the strict sense.

The initiative known as iMYPED is a different case, as it helps Small and Medium Enterprises to introduce and systematise innovation through a diagnosis and a roadmap, so all the member of the organisation can appropriate innovation methodologies in their processes. Also NOVUS is a stimulus strategy where higher educational institutions are linked with SMEs to develop functional prototypes that can help to fix the need of a new process or product within the company.

These initiatives are complemented with the National Network of Centres for Supporting Technology and Innovation (CATI in Spanish). These centres provide technical assistance to local beneficiaries in topics related with creation, protection and enforcement of their Intellectual Property and Copyright. Also, they promote activities of technology transfer.

Between 2007 and 2016 there were 2,613 patent applications in El Salvador (346 from residents and 2,267 from non residents). Of these, 671 were granted (158 to residents and 513 to non residents). This means that the Invention Coefficient in El Salvador (patents applied by residents for every 100,000 habitants) was 0.39 on 2016.

In the same time frame, graduates from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Careers were about 24,935 at an Undergraduate level, 244 at Master level and none at Doctorate level. In the R&D area there were 818 researchers between 20150 and 2016, and the investment between 2007 and 2016 was of about US$190.8m.