The world’s most innovative countries 2017

Switzerland is again the most innovative country in the world according to an index created by Insead, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and Cornell University. This year marks the tenth anniversary edition of the Global Innovation Index (GII), which covers 127 economies around the world and uses 81 indicators across a range of themes. 

Picture: Pixabay

Switzerland leads the rankings for the seventh consecutive year, followed by Sweden and the Netherlands. The leading countries don’t make it easy for technology to just proliferate, they actively foster innovative ecosystems that allow it to flourish, explains Bruno Lanvin, the Executive Director for Global Indices at Insead in an article for Insead’s Knowledge website. Switzerland leads because it performs in all pillars of the GII model, especially in terms of business environment and ability to transform available resources into innovative outputs.

In the top 25, China (which entered that group last year) moves up another three places, becoming the 22nd most innovative economy in the world. Lanvin praises that China has shown the strongest improvements in patent applications, university rankings and gross R&D expenditure. It also scores strongly in companies doing R&D and research talent according to the Insead director.

Although the top 25 is relatively stable, there have been notable changes in the next segment of the rankings and in particular positive developments from emerging markets. Some countries, termed “innovation achievers”, have performed better on innovation than their level of economic development would suggest. Vietnam jumped 12 ranks this year to rank 47, Kenya (80) and India (60) continued as innovation achievers, joined this year by Bulgaria (36) and Tanzania (96). Kenya scored because of its performance in the communications technology (ICT) sector.

Traditionally innovation has been associated with high-technology sectors, but now the agriculture and food sector is also an important source of innovative development, says Lanvin. This is forced by the fact that around one in nine people in the world currently suffers from hunger. One in three is malnourished in one form or another. Moreover, global food demand is expected to increase by at least 60 per cent by 2050. To nourish a population of 10 billion, innovation in agriculture is imperative, he writes. But in his opinion, the good news is that historically, agricultural innovation has proven both feasible and incredibly successful. Advances such as pasteurisation, refrigeration, mechanisation and the so-called ‘green revolution’ have boosted the world’s food supply and triggered socio-economic development.

Public authorities have a crucial role to play in overcoming market failures, investing in research and development (R&D), education and eliminating obstacles and distortions to global trade in agricultural and food supplies, Lanvin states. One example where improvement is possible and necessary is India, where 40 per cent of all fresh food perishes before it can get to consumers.

The most innovative countries in the world:

1. Switzerland

2. Sweden

3. Netherlands

4. USA

5. United Kingdom

6. Denmark

7. Singapore

8. Finland

9. Germany

10 Ireland

Read more onKnowledge INSEAD

Barbara Barkhausen

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