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Global Index shows economies that outperform peers

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, co-authored by Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management Dean Soumitra Dutta and released in Sept. 17 in London.

Johnson Dean Soumitra Dutta, co-author of the Global Innovation Index 2015, talks about the factors that drive innovation rich, middle-income, and poor countries.

Index rankings
The world’s 10 most innovative nations, according to the Global Innovation Index 2015:
1. Switzerland (No. 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)

This eighth edition of the report also shows that a group of countries outperform their economic peers in innovation. These include China, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Jordan, Kenya and Uganda.

The Global Innovation Index (GII) is a benchmarking tool for business executives, policymakers and others seeking insight into the state of innovation around the world. It is co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization, an agency of the United Nations.

The study, in its seventh year, surveys 141 economies using 79 indicators to gauge their innovation capabilities and measurable results.

As a whole, the group of top-5 performers – all high-income economies – remains largely unchanged from past editions, illustrating that the leaders’ performance is hard to challenge for those that follow.

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

A few economies stand out in innovation quality – as measured by university performance, the reach of scholarly articles and the international dimension of patent applications. The U.S. and the U.K. 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,” Dutta said. “Creating world-class universities and investing in research is essential for staying ahead in the global race for successful innovation.”

The GII designates economies that outperform their peers for their level of gross domestic product 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 (94th), Mozambique (95th) and Malawi (98th) 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.

Complete rankings, analysis and the full Global Innovation Index 2015 report are available free at

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John Carberry