19/07/2017 – News / Innovation / Cornell University / INSEAD / WIPO / Switzerland

Switzerland tops Global Innovation Index 2017

Switzerland, followed by Sweden, the Netherlands, the USA and the UK, are the world’s most innovative countries, according to the recently published Global Innovation Index 2017. He new rankings – co-authored by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) – also reveals that a group of nations including India, Kenya, and Vietnam are outperforming their development-level peers.


Key findings show the rise of India as an emerging innovation centre in Asia, and high innovation performance in sub-Saharan Africa relative to development. It also revealed an opportunity to improve innovation capacity in Latin America and the Caribbean.


Each year, the GII surveys some 130 economies using dozens of metrics, from patent filings to education spending providing decision-makers a high-level look at the innovative activity that increasingly drives economic and social growth. In a new feature for the GII, a special section looks at “invention hotspots” around the globe that show the highest density of inventors listed in international patent applications.


Now in its tenth edition, the GII 2017 notes a continued gap in innovative capacity between developed and developing nations, and lacklustre growth rates for research and development (R&D) activities, both at a government and corporate level.


“Innovation is the engine of economic growth in an increasingly knowledge-based global economy, but more investment is needed to help boost human creativity and economic output,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “Innovation can help transform the current economic upswing into longer-term growth.”


In 2017, Switzerland leads the rankings for the seventh consecutive year, with high-income economies taking 24 of the top 25 spots – China is the exception, at 22 in the Index. Last year, China became the first-ever middle-income economy in the top 25.


Bridging the innovation divide


“Efforts to bridge the innovation divide have to start with helping emerging economies understand their innovation strengths and weaknesses and create appropriate policies and metrics,” said Soumitra Dutta, Dean, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University. “This has been the GII’s purpose for more than 10 years now.”


A group of middle- and lower-income economies perform significantly better on innovation than their current level of development would predict: A total of 17 economies comprise these ‘innovation achievers’ this year, a slight increase from 2016. In total, nine come from the sub-Saharan Africa region, including Kenya and Rwanda, and three economies come from Eastern Europe.


Next to innovation powerhouses such as China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, a group of Asian economies including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam are actively working to improve their innovation ecosystems and rank high in a number of important indicators related to education, R&D, productivity growth, high- tech exports, among others.


Thought for food – “Innovation Feeding the World”


The theme of the GII 2017 – ‘Innovation Feeding the World’ – looks at innovation carried out in agriculture and food systems. Over the coming decades, the agriculture and food sector will face an enormous rise in global demand and increased competition for limited natural resources. In addition, it will need to adapt to and help mitigate climate change. Innovation is key to sustaining the productivity growth required to meet this rising demand and to helping enhance the networks that integrate the sustainable food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management known as food systems.


“We are already witnessing the rapid, worldwide emergence of ‘digital agriculture’, which includes drones, satellite-based sensors and field robotics,” said Bruno Lanvin, INSEAD Executive Director for Global Indices. “Now there is an urgent need for ‘smart agriculture’ to optimise supply and distribution chains and foster creative new business models that minimise pressure on land, energy and other natural resources – while addressing the needs of the world’s poorest.”


By 2050, the world’s population is estimated to reach 9.7 billion – and this presents the global agricultural sector with a daunting challenge, says Barry Jaruzelski, Principal at ‘Strategy&’ – PwC's strategy consulting business. “The stage has been set for a potential global food crisis if policy makers and other stakeholders fail to implement agricultural innovation that significantly boosts productivity.”

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