GII 2019 – new obstacles pose risks to global innovation

gii_2019_cover_1_1920Amid economic slowdown, innovation is blossoming around the world; but new obstacles pose risks to global innovation.

Global economic growth appears to be losing momentum relative to last year. Productivity growth is at a record low. Trade battles are brewing. Economic uncertainty is high.

Despite this gloomy perspective, innovation is blossoming around the world. In developed and developing economies alike, formal innovation—as measured by research and development (R&D) and patents—and less formal modes of innovation are thriving.

Today, developed and developing economies of all types promote innovation to achieve economic and social development. It is now also better understood that innovation is taking place in all realms of the economy, not only in high-tech companies and technology sectors. As a result, economies are firmly centering their attention on the creation and upkeep of sound and dynamic innovation ecosystems and networks.

The world witnessed an increase in innovation investments over recent years, as measured by the average investments of economies across all levels of development. The use of intellectual property (IP) reached record highs in 2017 and 2018.

Global R&D expenditures have been growing faster than the global economy, more than doubling between 1996 and 2016. In 2017, global government expenditures in R&D (GERD) grew by about 5% while business R&D expenditures grew by 6.7%, the largest increase since 2011 (Figure B and C). Never in history have so many scientists worldwide labored at solving the most pressing global scientific challenges.

What can we expect in terms of innovation efforts in the years to come?

Despite economic uncertainty, innovation expenditures have been growing and seem resilient in light of the current economic cycle.

As global economic growth declines in 2019, the question is whether this trend will continue. Two concerns stand out:

First, the GII 2019 shows that public R&D expenditures—in particular, in some high-income economies responsible for driving the technology frontier—are growing slowly or not at all. Waning public support for R&D in high-income economies is concerning given its central role in funding basic R&D and other blue sky research, which are key to future innovations— including for health innovation, this year’s GII theme.

Second, increased protectionism—in particular, protectionism that impacts technology-intensive sectors and knowledge flows—poses risks to global innovation networks and innovation diffusion. If left uncontained, these new obstacles to international trade, investment, and workforce mobility will lead to a slowdown of growth in innovation productivity and diffusion across the globe.

global innovation

Source: WIPO