The world’s most innovative countries for 2015

Innovation-led growth is no longer the prerogative of high-income countries alone. This was one of the findings of this year’s Global Innovation Index that measures the innovation level of countries worldwide. According to Insead’s Knowledge website the result of the latest research showed that middle-income countries are catching up fast, but that they still need some crucial ingredients to compete.

Picture: Sergey Nivens / Fotolia

Such ingredients have come together in the case of the Silicon Valley, for example where not only rebellious innovators have created an unparalleled success story, but outside factors also have influenced it largely:

  • Smart government policies made the valley home to universities, research labs, venture capital firms and armies of risk-taking talent.
  • From tax incentives to regulations and from grants to funding, the role of policies was crucial. During the Cold War, the US Defence Department heavily invested in semiconductor firms, creating ever-faster integrated circuits and computing capacity giving Silicon Valley its name. According to Insead it was computer research at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that led to the creation of computer networking that later became the internet.
  • Innovators were helped along by political stability, streamlined tax structures, inter-agency cooperation, supportive research institutions and fluid links between public researchers and private companies.
  • Risk-taking was made attractive by clear legal frameworks, clear fiscal frameworks and clear business frameworks to mitigate risk and investment confidently.

These qualities still ensure that the United States is the 5th most innovative country in the world according to the index. Other countries in the top ten share similar qualities to the US. Switzerland stayed in the top spot for the 5th year in a row, followed by the United Kingdom, Sweden and Netherlands. The United States in 5th place was followed by Finland, Singapore, Ireland, Luxembourg and Denmark.

But lower-income countries have caught up, despite still not placing anywhere near the top. The successful ‘newcomers’ are China, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Morocco and Jordan. All these countries have made or are in the process of making improvements to institutional frameworks, the skills of the labour force with expanded tertiary education, better infrastructure and a deeper integration with global credit investment and trade markets.

The index that measures a country’s innovation level has been created by Insead, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and Cornell University. It covers 141 economies around the world and uses 79 indicators across a range of themes.

Find full report here:
The World’s Most Innovative Countries, 2015

Barbara Barkhausen