Should inputs such as bank finance affect innovation in BRICS vs. developed countries similarly? Arguably these elasticities may depend on a country’s economic progress (Gerschenkron, 1962; Liu and White, 2001). Applying a combination of DEA and Tobit to a sample of 22 countries, we show how innovation (measured patents, scientific publications and high-tech sectoral output) responds favourably to private-sector R&D. No significant differences are recorded for BRICS countries. Differences emerge between BRICS and non-BRICS for the elasticity of innovative efficiency to banking inputs.