JEDDAH – Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Sweden topped this year’s Global Innovation Index, while the UAE ranked first among the countries of the Middle East in terms of overall performance. Sub-Saharan Africa posted significant regional improvement in the annual rankings published by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization.
Amid a newly documented slowdown in the growth of global research and development, the theme of the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2014 is “The Human Factor in Innovation,” exploring the role of human capital in the innovation process and underlining the growing interest that firms and governments have shown in identifying and energizing creative individuals and teams.
du hosted the Middle East and North Africa launch conference of the 2014 Global Innovation Index in the United Arab Emirates, in the presence of Mohammed Al Gergawi, Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs, who delivered the opening speech of the conference.
Amid a newly documented slowdown in the growth of global research and development, the theme of the Global Innovation Index 2014 is “The Human Factor in Innovation,” exploring the role of human capital in the innovation process and underlining the growing interest that firms and governments have shown in identifying and energizing creative individuals and teams.
“Innovation is a major contributor to economic growth and the key to economic success in a global economy, as well as the source of competitive advantage for industries and companies,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. He added “countries in the Middle East are recognizing the importance of innovation. They are seeking to diversify their economies away from natural resources and towards knowledge intensive industries.”
This year’s report highlights how the human factor of innovation largely explains which innovation champions remain at the top, and why some of the large emerging economies offer divergent innovation performances. A closer look at a collection of indicators that focus on education as a subset of human capital formation helps understand differences in innovation performance across regions and income groups.
Analysis of the GII results shows that the human factor is even more critical for innovation success in higher-income economies than in lower-income economies. It is likely that better educated citizens are more successful in higher-income economies in leveraging the favourable contexts (in business and markets) for driving innovation. It also suggests that, as a country moves up the scale of innovation sophistication, the quality of its talents (in science, engineering, but also in business and management for example) become even more critical.
Bruno Lanvin, Executive Director for Global Indices at INSEAD, and co-author of the report, said “the talent dimension of innovation is particularly critical for MENA countries, whose young populations will require massive job creations in the years to come. Reliance on ‘imported skills’ (from expats and consultants) needs to diminish rapidly if those countries want to be able to generate a sustainable flow of local innovation. In this context, education is key. While countries like Tunisia (25th in tertiary education), Lebanon (26th), and to some extent Oman (32nd) have traditionally scored high on tertiary education, and the spectacular results registered this year by the UAE and Qatar (respectively 1st and 9th) reflect the high priority they provided to education over the last decade.”
The top 10 economies in the GII 2014 edition are Switzerland, the United Kingdom (UK), Sweden,
Finland, the Netherlands, the United States of America (USA), Singapore, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Hong Kong (China). Nine of these economies were already in the GII top 10 in 2013; Ireland, which was 10th in 2013, dropped to 11th this year, and Luxembourg climbed up into the top 10 from 12th position in 2013.
The GII 2014 confirms the continued existence of global innovation divides even within income groups. All top 25 economies are in the high-income group. China and Malaysia are the only upper-middle income countries getting closer to these ranks.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the region that sees the most significant improvement in GII rankings in 2014.
Thirty-three countries make up the region in the GII. Of these 33, 17 climb in the rankings this year, three remain in the same position, two new countries are added, and the remaining 11 exhibit a drop in rank.
Regional trends in the GII 2014 show some interesting new aspects. The BRICS economies show signs of divergence, with China improving at a significantly faster pace than its BRICS counterparts and India slipping back.
The GII 2014 surveys 143 economies around the world, using 81 indicators – to gauge both their innovation capabilities and measurable results.
For the GII 2014, Switzerland remains the leader for the fourth consecutive year. The United Kingdom moves up a rank to second place, followed by Sweden. A new entry into the top 10 this year is Luxembourg (9th) Sub-Saharan Africa posted significant regional improvement in the annual rankings published by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization.
These GII leaders have created well-linked innovation ecosystems, where investments in human capital combined with strong innovation infrastructures contribute to high levels of creativity. In particular, the top 25 countries in the GII consistently score high in most indicators and have strengths in areas such as innovation infrastructure, including information and communication technologies; business sophistication such as knowledge workers, innovation linkages, and knowledge absorption; and innovation outputs such as creative goods and services and online creativity.
The quality of innovation is assessed as well. In terms of innovation quality – as measured by university performance, the reach of scholarly articles and the international dimension of patent applications - the United States of America (USA) holds the top place within the high-income group, followed by Japan, Germany and Switzerland. Top-scoring middle-income economies are narrowing the gap on innovation quality with China in the lead, followed by Brazil and India.
Soumitra Dutta – Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University and co-author of the report – points out that “when reviewing the GII quality indicators, top performing middle-income economies are closing the gap with high-income economies. China significantly outperforms the average score of high-income economies across the combined quality indicators. To close the gap even further, middle-income economies must continue to invest in strengthening their innovation ecosystems closely monitor the quality of their innovation indicators.” – SG