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10th Annual Global Innovation Index Released – U.S. Ranks 4th

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Greetings from D.C.  Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands, the U.S. and the U.K. are the top five “most innovative” countries in the world, according to the latest Global Innovation Index (GII 2017), an annual report produced jointly by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).  The report assesses 127 countries using multiple criteria to determine ranking.  Rounding out the top 10 are Denmark, Singapore, Finland, Germany and Ireland.

The total score for each country—and thus the final overall ranking—is based on 81 criteria, collected under 7 ‘pillars’ that in turn represent 2 overarching sub-indices.  The five pillars under the Innovation Input Sub-Index are: 1) institutions, 2) human capital and research, 3) infrastructure, 4) market sophistication, and 5) business sophistication, all of which address elements of the national economy reflecting innovative activities.  Under the Innovation Output Sub-Index are two pillars: 6) knowledge and technology outputs and 7) creative outputs, which capture evidence of innovation results.  Each country can be compared on individual elements as well as overall ranking.

Some selected key country-specific findings from the GII 2017 report (on a regional basis) include:

  • In North America, the U.S. and Canada show “particularly sophisticated financial markets and intensity of venture capital activity,” both considered stimulators for private-sector economic activity. In addition, the U.S. also scores strong in the “presence of high-quality universities and firms conducting global R&D, quality of scientific publications, software spending, and the state of its innovation clusters.”
  • Europe is home to 15 of the top 25 global economies, with European economies ranking first in almost half of the GII indicators. Europe is “particularly strong in human capital and research, infrastructure, and business sophistication.”
  • Among Southeast Asian economies, the Republic of Korea maintains its “top overall rankings in patenting and other IP-related indicators, while ranking second in human capital and research, with its business sector contributing significantly to R&D efforts.” Japan ranked third in the region, while China continues moving ahead in the overall GII ranking (22nd overall this year).
  • In central and southern Asia, India is the top-ranked economy now, showing “improvement in most areas, including in infrastructure, business sophistication, knowledge and technology, and creative outputs.”
  • In northern Africa and western Asia, Israel and Cyprus hold the top two spots, with Israel showing “improvement in gross expenditure on R&D and ICT services exports, while keeping its top spots worldwide in researchers, [and] venture capital deals,” among other criteria.
  • The largest economies in Latin America and the Caribbean (Chile, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina) show “particular strengths in institutions, infrastructure, and business sophistication.”

All attempts to score large (and small) economies on any type of performance metric is only as good as the data collected and the methodology employed.  I leave it to the reader to pay careful attention to the section of the report addressing how the underlying criteria were collected, analyzed and scored.  Be that as it may, this annual report, like others of its kind, is designed to support policymakers in their deliberations and decision-making in an important area, and does provide some interesting comparative information in that regard.

You can find the GII 2017 website here, including links to the full report, press release, and various analytical perspectives.  There is also a link to individual economies’ scoring tabulations. 

Gary can be reached at gkjones.ctr@federallabs.org.

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