12 years of the 10 most innovative countries in the world
The most innovative countries in the world 2022
Since 2000, global investment in research and development (R&D) has tripled to $2.4 trillion.
R&D spending is also casting a wider global net. In 1960, the US made up nearly 70% of global R&D spending, and by 2020 it had fallen to 30%. From job creation and public health to national security and industrial competitiveness, R&D plays a vital role in a country’s economic growth and innovation, impacting nearly every corner of society, either directly or indirectly.
Along with R&D spending, other key ingredients play an important role in driving progress and innovation. These include technology adoption, scientific research, and venture capital activity, among others.
The infographic above ranks the world’s most innovative economies using UN data. WIPO Global Innovation Index.
What defines an innovative economy?
Innovation is inherently difficult to quantify, but the Global Innovation Index is a long-standing attempt to do just that.
The framework used for the index was designed to create a more comprehensive analysis, comprising of 81 indicators into seven categories to calculate a country’s score:
|7 categories||example indicators|
|🧳 Business sophistication||Business R&D spending, net foreign direct investment inflows|
|📈 Market sophistication||GDP size of the economy, intensity of competition in the local market|
|🛣️ Infrastructure||Construction of roads, hospitals, schools, energy efficiency|
|👩🏫 Human capital and research||Government funding per student, quality of scientific and research institutions|
|🏛️ Institutions||Political stability and security, ease of starting a business|
|💡 Creative outlets||Most Valuable Trademarks, Industrial Design Applications, Trademark Applications|
|👨💻 Knowledge and technology outlets||proprietary applicationsincreased labor productivity, software spending|
As the table above shows, the framework aims to identify indicators that foster an innovative environment and cutting-edge technologies.
It is worth noting that each country’s overall innovation score is a combination of these categories, and countries with similar scores may be strong in different areas.
The 50 most innovative countries in 2022
Switzerland ranks first for the 12th consecutive year, ahead of the US, South Korea and Israel.
For many, this may come as a surprise. However, the country’s intellectual property rules are considered world-class and are complemented by strong collaboration between universities and industry. In addition, the country attracts top talent thanks to its high quality of life.
In second place is the United States, which is one of the countries that spends the most on R&D with more than $700 billion by year. Globally, four of the top five companies spending on R&D are in the United States: Amazon ($42.7 billion), Alphabet ($27.6 billion), Microsoft ($19.3 billion) and Apple ($18.8 billion).
|Range||Country / Region||Score|
|4||🇺🇸 United Kingdom||59.7|
|6||🇰🇷 South Korea||57.8|
|24||🇳🇿 New Zealand||47.2|
|30||🇨🇿 Czech Republic||42.8|
|31||🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates||42.1|
|3. 4||🇭🇺 Hungary||39.8|
|Four. Five||🇲🇺 Mauritius||34.4|
|48||🇻🇳 Viet Nam||34.3|
Countries across Europe also feature prominently in the top 10, including Sweden (#3), the UK (#4) and the Netherlands (#5).
South Korea (#6), is known for its high R&D intensity. This is driven by their industrial conglomerates, known as chaebols, which are generally family-owned. samsung and LG are among its largest companies, known for their high degree of business-academic collaboration.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at the most innovative countries by region.
In North America, the US ranks first. The country has long been known as a global leader in innovation, with a strong track record of introducing new ideas and technologies that have transformed the way we live and work. The United States ranks first in a number of indicators, including university-industry R&D collaboration and intangible asset intensity.
Canada ranks second in the region (global rank: #15). Across all countries, it ranks first in measures of joint ventures and strategic alliances per $1 billion of GDP (PPP) and number of recipients of venture capital (VC) per $1 billion of GDP (PPP). In 2021, venture capital investment exceeded $14.7 billion in 752 offers.
Another interesting example is Honduras (#113). Promoting innovation in the country is a new economic zoning experiment called Economic Development and Employment Zones (ZEDEs).
To date, these zones have attracted around $250 million in private investment funds and have created thousands of new jobs.
Chile (#50) ranks first in the region, thanks to its promising technology sector. To date, it is home to an estimated 8,000 technology companies. The country also has the highest scale of mobile connectivity in the region. At the end of 2021, it launched the first 5G network in South America.
Following Chile is Brazil (#54)which saw a record number of IPOs in 2021 that were valued at nearly $7 billion.
Middle East and Central Asia
As the highest ranked in the region, Israel (#16) is the only country globally that spends more than 5% of GDP in R&D. Overall, it is a world leader in patent applications and exports of information and communication technology (ICT) services.
For context, the country’s per capita startup density is 16 times that of Europe.
The small island nation of Cyprus (#27) follows in second place, supported by government funding focused on start-ups. Meanwhile, Turkey (#37) in fourth, is home to six unicorns*, fostered by the development of a mega-tech corridor through Istanbul to Izmir.
*A Unicorn is a private startup that has a valuation of over a billion dollars.
With 15 of the top 25 economies In the world, Europe is a power to foster innovative ecosystems.
The continent is also a leader in social progress, equality and life satisfaction. The region scores 30 for inequality according to the Gini Index compared to 41 for the Americas.
For many, tech production isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when they think of Europe, but venture capital deals popped up. 53% in 2021. London, Berlin and Paris were the top cities for venture capital activity.
East Asia and Oceania
South Korea (#6) ranks first in East Asia and Oceania, and has established itself as a technology and innovation leader on the global stage. Through its New Deal initiative, the government is spearheading projects on smart healthcare, AI and smart industrial complexes. At the same time, it is accelerating the construction of green infrastructure and renewable energy.
The South Korean Hyundai and its subsidiary Kia have carried out considerable ground in electric vehicle (EV) production, comprising 9% of the US electric vehicle market, the second highest share after Tesla.
China sits just outside the global top 10 and now ranks No. 1 across multiple indicators, including labor productivity growth and trademarks by origin. China’s economic output per worker employed rose an impressive 4.2% annually from 2011 to 2019, on average.
The best ranked in Africa is the island nation of Mauritius (#45).
Underlining its rank is the strength of its institutions and the sophistication of the market. Meanwhile, the government is accelerating investment in technology incubators, research-business collaboration, and tax incentives for R&D investment.
South Africa (#61) follows Mauritius on the list, with the city of Cape Town attracting a bid $300 million Amazon Headquarters.
Panasonic opened its Cape Town headquarters in 2018. Oracle, IBM, Google and Microsoft also have offices in the country’s sprawling technology hub.