Some middle-income economies are on the rise in the global innovation landscape

global innovationThis year, again, the geography of innovation is changing.

In the top echelon, Switzerland, Sweden, and the United States of America (U.S.) lead the innovation rankings, with the latter two moving up in GII 2019. Other European nations, such as the Netherlands and Germany, along with Singapore in Asia, remain consistent members of the GII top 10. This year, Israel moves up to the 10th position, marking the first time an economy from the Northern Africa and Western Asia region cracks the top 10 rankings.

In the top 20, the Republic of Korea edges closer to the top 10. China, continues its upward rise, moving to 14th (from 17th in 2018), and thus firmly establishing itself in the group of leading innovative nations. China remains the only middle-income economy in the top 30. China’s innovation strengths become evident in numerous areas; it maintains top ranks in Patents by origin, Industrial designs, and Trademarks by origin as well as High-tech net exports and Creative goods exports.

Notable moves in GII rankings this year include the United Arab Emirates (36th); Viet Nam (42nd), and Thailand (43rd) getting closer to the top 40; India (52nd) getting closer to the top 50; the Philippines (54th) breaking into the top 55; and the Islamic Republic of Iran (61st) getting closer to the top 60.

The performance improvement of India is particularly noteworthy.

India continues to be the most innovative economy in Central & Southern Asia – a distinction held since 2011 (Figure A) – improving its global rank to 52nd in 2019. India is consistently among the top in the world in innovation drivers such as ICT services exports, Graduates in science & engineering, the quality of universities, Gross capital formation – a measure of economy-wide investments – and Creative goods exports. India also stands out in the GII ranking of the world’s top science and technology clusters (Key Finding #6), with Bengaluru, Mumbai, and New Delhi featuring prominently among the global top 100 clusters. Given its size – and if progress is upheld – India will make a true impact on global innovation in the years to come.

As always, it must be noted that for year-on-year comparisons of the above type, GII ranks are influenced by various factors, such as changes in metrics and data availability.

When comparing levels of innovation to the level of economic development, India, Viet Nam, Kenya, and the Republic of Moldova stand out for outperforming on innovation relative to GDP for the ninth consecutive year – a record.

Other economies also outperform in innovation relative to their GDP, catching-up with innovation leaders more quickly than their peers (Table A). Middle-income economies outperforming on innovation relative to their level of development include, for example, Costa Rica – the only country in Latin America and the Caribbean – South Africa, Thailand, Georgia, and the Philippines. Burundi, Malawi, Mozambique, and Rwanda stand out as thriving economies within the low-income group.

As in previous years, Africa shines in terms of innovation relative to level of development.

Out of the 18 innovation achievers identified in the GII 2019, six (the most from any one region) are from the Sub-Saharan African region. Importantly, Kenya, Rwanda, Mozambique, Malawi, and Madagascar stand out for being innovation achievers at least three times in the previous eight years.

Source: WIPO