Landscape analysis

Innovation in Venezuela is regulated by the Ley Orgánica de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (Organic Law of Science, Technology and Innovation - LOCTI), passed in 2005. In that year the Plan Nacional de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (National Plan of Science, Technology and Innovation - PNCTI) was also approved, promoting the development and investment in this field between 2005 and 2030. There was a clear willing to make advances and some positive ideas on how to do it, like the chance of companies of reducing their taxes if they invested in innovation, but so far these measures did not work out. The public institution in charge of ensuring this plan and the one regulating the science, technology and innovation system is the Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Educación Universitaria, Ciencia y Tecnología (Ministry of University Education, Science and Technology - FONACIT). The Fondo Nacional de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (National Fond of Science, Technology and Innovation) is the funding institution according to said law (Artigas, Useche & Queipo, 2016). Despite the important tradition and impulse given to innovation in the past, the current social, political and economic crisis in Venezuela have made innovative processes almost disappear. Some authors add also a lack of innovative culture in Venezuela as an explanation for not having greater technological innovation (Arenas, Colina & de Adrianza, 2015).

There are many more urgent necessities that prevent large investments, both from the government and from private companies, in innovation and technology. As detailed in the chapter Telecommunications (Company profiles), there are many companies unable to invest in developing technology as it is already hard for them to survive. The important role of China as the main investor in the country must be mentioned, as it has allowed some of the few developments in the fields of technology and energy (Di Stasio, 2018; Grabendorff, 2018).

Despite being still underdeveloped in comparison to other countries, some of the areas in which innovation is stronger in Venezuela are online banking and telecommunications. Also the oil industry, essential in Venezuela, is object of important investments, even if its production in comparison with other countries is much smaller. An important technology is cryptocurrency, with the Petro which is the Venezuelan cryptocurrency associated to the price of oil, actually one of the main strategies of the government to get international currency and escape the international blockade. Blockchain technologies are, therefore, important in the innovation scenario in Venezuela and have an appreciable effect on the economy and society of the country (Bermúdez, 2018), and so have the online banking technologies. But none of them are in the top of their class and their use is still politicised and should be improved and extended.

This politicisation of innovation is what raises the level of skepticism, as anti-government groups distrust phenomena like the introduction of the cryptocurrency Petro, while supporters of the government tend not to rely on the scientific advances coming from critical groups in universities and research centres or from international organisations. Beside this always present political division, access to technology is generally equally distributed in the country.