Ranked 25th in 2016, up from 29th a year ago, this year’s Global Innovation Index (GII) ranking mirrors China’s improved performance in this domain, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry explained.
“This is in keeping with all the developments that we have seen in China in recent years, including the use of innovation as a major component in the transition of the Chinese economy from ‘made in China’ to ‘created in China’,” he said.
Findings also outline that a wide gap continues to permeate the innovation divide between developed and developing countries across the world.
According to the report, slower growth in emerging economies after the 2009 financial crisis, combined with more stringent research and development (R&D) budgets in high-income countries remains a source of concern.
“Innovation is a very fundamental phenomenon which is responsible for a large number of social and economic benefits,” Gurry highlighted.
“In the current environment, innovation assumes particular significance because of its potential to open up new avenues of economic growth… the connection between innovation and economic growth has now been a matter of standard economic theory for decades,” he added.
Traditionally dominated by highly-developed countries, this year the ranking sees Switzerland, Sweden and Britain as the top three most innovative economies in the world, with 15 of the top 25 economies in the GII located in Europe.
According to this year’s figures, four countries stand out in terms of “innovation quality”, namely Japan, the United States, Britain and Germany.
This top-level metric looks at the calibre of universities, the number of scientific publications and international patent filings.
When looking at this indicator, 2016 has seen China move up to 17th place globally and first amongst middle-income countries, ahead of India and Brazil.
Historically speaking, this, together with China’s widespread innovation ascendancy, should come as no surprise, Gurry said.
“Until 1800, China was preeminent in science and technology… this is a renaissance rather than a naissance,” he stressed.
According to experts, China’s innovation outlook has witnessed systemic improvements in all areas since the GII came into being in 2007.
This holds particularly true in terms of the number of patents and licenses issued and the marked increase in innovation quality.
The GII is a leading benchmark based on 82 indicators used by business executives, policy makers and others who wish to gain a holistic insight into the state of innovation across the world.