China joined the world’s top 20 most innovative economies for the first time while the US fell out of the five top-ranked countries, according to a report released on Tuesday by one of its cosponsors, the UN intellectual property agency.
The Global Innovation Index 2018 keeps Switzerland in the No. 1 spot, followed by the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and Singapore.
The US fell from fourth place last year to sixth this year, while China jumped from 22nd to 17th in the rankings.
China’s ranking represents a breakthrough for its economy, which is rapidly transforming and prioritizing research and ingenuity, UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director-General Francis Gurry said.
“China’s rapid rise reflects a strategic direction set from the top leadership to developing world-class capacity in innovation and to moving the structural basis of the economy to more knowledge-intensive industries that rely on innovation to maintain competitive advantage,” Gurry said. “It heralds the arrival of multipolar innovation.”
Now in its 11th edition, the index ranks 126 economies based on 80 indicators ranging from the creation of mobile applications to education spending, scientific and technical publications, and intellectual property filing rates.
The index is sponsored by the WIPO, Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business and INSEAD, the graduate school of business with campuses in France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.
They say it gives global decisionmakers a better understanding of how to stimulate innovation, which “drives economic and human development.”
“China’s innovation prowess becomes evident in various areas,” with some of its greatest improvements in global research and development (R&D) companies, high-technology imports, the quality of its publications and enrollment in graduate education, the report said.
“In absolute values, and in areas such as R&D expenditures and the number of researchers, patents and publications, China is now first or second in the world, with volumes that overshadow most high income economies,” it said.
The report said that China’s rapid rise in the rankings over the past few years has been spectacular and that it shows the way for other middle-income economies, though only Malaysia, currently 35th in the rankings, continues to edge closer to the top 25.
According to the index, 20 middle and lower-income economies that perform “significantly better” than their level of development made this year’s list of “innovation achievers,” including three for the first time — South Africa, Tunisia and Colombia.
Six of the achievers come from sub-Saharan Africa, the most for any region.
In addition to South Africa, they are Kenya, Rwanda, Mozambique, Malawi and Madagascar.
There were five achievers from eastern Europe: Moldova, Armenia, Ukraine, Montenegro and Serbia.
The report singles out three nations that made a comeback to the achievers list this year — Mongolia, Thailand and Montenegro.
In addition to Kenya, three other nations have been on the achievers list for eight years — Moldova, Vietnam and India.
At the bottom of the list of 126 nations are Bolivia, Nigeria, Guinea, Zambia, Benin, Niger, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Togo and Yemen.
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