The world’s most innovative countries

European countries are leading the way in this year’s Global Innovation Index. Switzerland is again ahead of Sweden and the United Kingdom (which has dropped one place already after the Brexit), with the United States getting in on fourth place.

Picture: Konstantin Yuganov / fotolia

Finland, another Scandinavian country with a population of just over five million, was ranked only three places behind its neighbour Sweden. Singapore climbed to sixth spot followed by Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany on tenth spot.

The index is a collaboration of international business school Insead, Cornell University and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). According to an Insead article, investments in R&D and innovation are central to economic growth; helping developed countries reinvent themselves in times of economic decline and emerging countries answer their societies’ growing needs. “We (…) find that sustained investment is critical”, writes Bruno Lanvin, the Executive Director for Global Indices at Insead. “It may be tempting to scale back investment during times of low-growth or economic uncertainty, but it pays to keep it up as ‘stop-and-go’ approaches quickly erase progress made in previous years.”

European countries fare so well in the index due to government policy, strong R&D spending and coordination which characterise projects such as The Human Brain Project or HBP and Eureka. HBP, a global, 10-year scientific research project aimed at advancing the understanding of neuroscience, brain-inspired computing and brain-related medicine, was kicked off in 2013. This European Commission initiative, born from the seminal work of Professor Henry Markram, from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, provides the scientific community with the infrastructure to collaborate and make new inroads into the study of neuroscience, writes Insead.

The second innovation booster is the Eureka programme, a publicly-funded, intergovernmental network involving over 40 countries. It started its work in 1985 to improve European competitiveness by ‘promoting innovation across borders’ and has since helped Europe to achieve a higher level of innovation than other continents.

2016 TOP 10

1. Switzerland

2. Sweden

3. United Kingdom

4. United States

5. Finland

6. Singapore

7. Ireland

8. Denmark

9. Netherlands

10. Germany

Read more at Knowledge Insead

Barbara Barkhausen