By Jennifer M. Freedman
Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore are the most innovative countries in the world, according to a study by the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization and Insead that found a wide gap between rich and poor nations.
Innovation is an important engine of growth and new jobs, the Global Innovation Index 2012, which ranked 141 economies, showed. The index considered institutions, human capital and research, infrastructure and market and business sophistication as well as as the results of innovation such as patents and software in determining how countries fared.
“Policies to promote innovation are critical to the debate on spurring sustainable economic growth,” WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said in a statement from Geneva. “The downward pressure on investment in innovation exerted by the current crisis must be resisted. Otherwise we risk durable damage to countries’ productive capacities. This is the time for forward- looking policies to lay the foundations for future prosperity.”
Finland ranked fourth, followed by the U.K., the Netherlands, Denmark, Hong Kong, Ireland and the U.S.
Canada, which came in at No. 8 last year, is the only economy exiting the top 10 while the U.S. fell from seventh place due to shortfalls in areas such as education and human resources.
Brazil, Russia India and China, the four largest emerging markets known as BRICs, need to invest further in their innovation capabilities, according to today’s report. While China ranks fifth in terms of knowledge and technology outputs, both it and India face weaknesses in their innovation infrastructure and environment, the study indicated. Brazil’s ranking dropped the most among the BRIC nations.
“Innovation is becoming the spearhead of competition — at a regional level, on a national level and for companies,” said Alcatel-Lucent SA (ALU) Chief Executive Officer Ben Verwaayen. “How to deal with that challenge will determine the destiny of competiveness for all players.”