Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United States are the world’s five most innovative nations, according to the Global Innovation Index 2015.

China, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Jordan, Kenya, and Uganda are among a group of countries outperforming their economic peers.

“Innovation holds far-reaching promise for spurring economic growth in countries at all stages of development. However, realizing this promise is not automatic,” says Francis Gurry, director general of the World Intellectual Property Organization. “Each nation must find the right mix of policies to mobilize the innate innovative and creative potential in their economies.”

The GII report, co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and WIPO, surveys 141 economies around the world, using 79 indicators to gauge both innovative capabilities and measurable results.

red innovation sign on wall

Top Rankings

  1. Switzerland (Number 1 in 2014)
  2. United Kingdom (2)
  3. Sweden (3)
  4. Netherlands (5)
  5. United States of America (6)
  6. Finland (4)
  7. Singapore (7)
  8. Ireland (11)
  9. Luxembourg (9)
  10. Denmark (8)

As a whole, the group of top 25 performers—all high income economies—remains largely unchanged from past editions, illustrating that the leaders’ performance is hard to challenge.

Some exceptions are: the Czech Republic (24) is in the top 25 and Ireland (8) in the top 10 this year. Also, China (29) and Malaysia (32) show a performance similar to one of the top 25 high-income countries, including in areas such as human capital development and research and development funding.

In terms of innovation quality—as measured by university performance, the reach of scholarly articles, and the international dimension of patent applications—a few economies stand out. The US and the UK stay ahead of the pack, largely as a result of their world-class universities, closely followed by Japan, Germany, and Switzerland. Top-scoring middle-income economies on innovation quality are China, Brazil, and India, with China increasingly outpacing the others.

“Innovation quality matters,” says coauthor Soumitra Dutta of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. “Creating world class universities and investing in research is essential for staying ahead in the global race for successful innovation.”

Outperforming their economy

Economies that outperform their peers for their level of gross domestic product are designated in the report as “innovation achievers.”

A number of low-income economies are innovation achievers, performing increasingly well at levels previously reserved for the lower-middle-income group. Sub-Saharan Africa stands out, with Rwanda (94), Mozambique (95), and Malawi (98) now performing like middle-income economies. In addition, Kenya, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Uganda are generally outperforming other economies at their level of development.

These innovation achievers demonstrate rising levels of innovation results because of improvements made to institutional frameworks, a skilled labor force with expanded tertiary education, better innovation infrastructures, a deeper integration with global credit investment and trade markets, and a sophisticated business community—even if progress on these dimensions is not uniform across their economies.

“In all regions of the world, entrepreneurship, leadership, and political will are making a difference regarding innovation,” stresses Bruno Lanvin, executive director for global indices at INSEAD, and co-editor of the report.

“Barriers are falling, and innovation achievers are displaying performances higher than what their income per capita would suggest. Their experience is now becoming a basis for other countries to emulate their success and turn innovation into a truly global engine for sustainable growth.”


This text is published here under a Creative Commons License.
Author: Joe Schwartz-Cornell University
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