Top 5 innovative countries: Switzerland first as the US returns

by | Aug 13, 2013

Switzerland is the world’s most innovative nation, as the UK comes in third and the US returns to its spot in the top five.

The Global Innovation Index 2013, published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), ranks nations according to their success in innovation.

switzerland

Research and development spend in most nations is greater than 2008 levels despite the current economic climate and successful local hubs are going from strength to strength, the report found.

Middle and low-income countries, including China, Costa Rica and India, are outrunning their peers, but have yet to break into the pointy end of the leaderboard.

Unique innovation ecosystems are emerging, which heralds a move away from countries trying to copy what has worked before.

“For national-level policy makers seeking to support innovation, realising the full potential of innovation in their own backyards is often a more promising approach than trying to emulate successful innovation models elsewhere,” WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said.

The index examines 142 countries using 84 benchmarks, including quality of universities and accessibility of microfinance and venture capital.

Published every year since 2007, the index is used by top-tier decision makers around the world seeking insight into the state of innovation on an international level.

Top 10 innovative countries

  1. Switzerland (1 in 2012)
  2. Sweden (2)
  3. United Kingdom (5)
  4. Netherlands (6)
  5. US (10)
  6. Finland (4)
  7. Hong Kong (China)  (8)
  8. Singapore (3)
  9. Denmark (7)
  10. Ireland (9)

Switzerland and Sweden consistently perform well in all key index benchmarks. The UK has a solid all-round performance in innovation, despite slim levels of growth in productivity. The US has greatly benefited from its strong knowledge base, with its world class universities helping its ranking. America has also seen growth in software spend and employment in knowledge-intensive industries. It was last in the top 5 in 2009, when it came first.

“While high income economies dominate the list, several new players have increased their innovation capabilities and outputs. On average, high-income countries outpace developing countries by a wide margin across the board in terms of scores; a persistent innovation divide exists,” said Mr. Soumitra Dutta, co-editor of the report and Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University.

How innovation learners can leverage their strength

There are 18 emerging economies outrunning other nations in the same income bracket. These include China, India, Malaysia and Latvia. Rising innovation levels in these nations are the result of focusing on universities, talent, infrastructure, and links to the global economy and the business community.

Latin America is the region that has seen significant improvement in innovation, with Costa Rica taking the lead.

“Underperforming countries can boost their innovation capabilities by developing hubs in which large companies, whose business goals are aligned with the objectives of the innovation hub, can play a key catalyst role,” said Barry Jaruzelski, Senior Partner and leader of the Global Engineered Products and Services Practice at Booz & Company. “Enterprise champions, including state-owned enterprises, family-owned conglomerates, and multinational corporations, can be the critical drivers of innovation hub activities.”

Jeffrey Tobias

About Jeffrey Tobias

Dr Tobias is an accomplished innovation consultant and entrepreneurship strategist, drawing expertise from the academic, entrepreneurial and corporate worlds. Jeffrey’s commercial and business experience is particularly focussed on lean startup, design thinking and leadership. Prior to The Strategy Group, Jeffrey was Cisco’s Global Lead for Innovation in the Internet Business Solutions Group helping Fortune Global 500 companies improve customer experience and grow revenue by transforming how they do business.
Jeffrey is a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship teaching MBA students at the Australian Graduate School of Business at the University of New South Wales. An active angel investor, Jeffrey is on the board of various well-known startups.

View All Posts

Managing Director, The Strategy Group

Dr Tobias is an accomplished innovation consultant and entrepreneurship strategist, drawing expertise from the academic, entrepreneurial and corporate worlds. Jeffrey’s commercial and business experience is particularly focussed on lean startup, design thinking and leadership. Prior to The Strategy Group, Jeffrey was Cisco’s Global Lead for Innovation in the Internet Business Solutions Group helping Fortune Global 500 companies improve customer experience and grow revenue by transforming how they do business.
Jeffrey is a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship teaching MBA students at the Australian Graduate School of Business at the University of New South Wales. An active angel investor, Jeffrey is on the board of various well known startups. Jeffrey’s corporate background includes leading global innovation strategy at Cisco, working with large corporates such as Adobe, Westpac, Telstra, Woolworths, and Perpetual.

Need help to get your business to the next level?

More related articles on innovation

Share This