According to a recent study by Cornell University, French business school INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization, no Asian countries were among the top five most innovative economies in the world. The Global Innovation Index 2013 showed Southeast Asia trailing behind Europe and North America in a comprehensive report on 142 economies. The study examined 84 measures like university performance, infrastructure, institutions and venture capital.
Relative to North America and Europe, Asian economies averaged weaker institutions, human capital and research than North America and Europe. Hong Kong was the highest ranked Asian economy in the study at 7th, while Singapore ranked 8th, down from 3rd in 2012.
“This year’s model is better at capturing innovations of quality and impact, and in that regard, the U.S. performs (and probably has always performed) better than Singapore,” writes Bruno Lanvin, co-editor of the report. “The policy implication is evident: Singapore needs to monitor closely the quality and impact of its research, academic, and output activities.”
Switzerland was once again listed as the world’s leader in innovation thanks to its knowledge-based economy and high GDP per capital. Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands placed second, third and fourth respectively, with the United States rounding out the top five.
North America and Europe’s regional successes largely resulted from their high-income economies and consistent scores across most measures. The United States jumped from 10th place in 2012 to 5th this year thanks to heavy investment in research and development and changes in study criteria to include factors like citable documents and university rankings.
The BRICs fell behind this year, with China dropping from 34th to 35th, Russia dropping 11 spots to 62nd, Brazil dropping six spots to 64th and India falling two spots to 66th.
At the same time, the study’s analysts point out that emerging markets have increased their research and development investments faster than high-income countries, especially China, Argentina, Brazil, Poland, India, Russia, Turkey, and South Africa.
China now leads in patent filings and has outperformed most of its income group.
According to the study, China and other emerging markets are making up an increasing share of global patents, though authors later warn that “the number of patent applications filed is not always a good proxy for how commercially valuable the inventions underlying the patents really are.”
While China ranked 1st in national patent office applications, it also, for instance, ranked 124th in ease of starting a business.
Indonesia jumped 15 spots to 85th.
Overall spending on research and development has surpassed 2008 levels in most countries, but major gaps persist between high-income and developing countries.
The top 10 innovators are:
- Hong Kong (China)
Source: Cornell University, INSEAD, World Intellectual Property Organization