Index highlights innovation advances in Europe, Africa

Soumitra Dutta, Bruno Lanvin and Francis Gurry
Soumitra Dutta, right, dean of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, and Bruno Lanvin, left, executive director for Global Indices at INSEAD, co-edited the 2017 Global Innovation Index. The index was developed under the direction of Francis Gurry, center, director general, World Intellectual Property Organization.

Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United States and the United Kingdom are the world’s most innovative countries, while a group of nations including India, Kenya and Vietnam are outperforming their development-level peers, according to the Global Innovation Index 2017.

The index was co-edited by Soumitra Dutta, founding dean of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, in partnership with INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Key findings show the rise of India as an emerging innovation center in Asia, high innovation performance in sub-Saharan Africa relative to development, and an opportunity to improve innovation capacity in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Each year, the GII surveys some 130 economies using dozens of metrics, from patent filings to education spending, providing decision-makers a high-level look at the innovative activity that increasingly drives economic and social growth.

Cornell SC Johnson faculty, and other Cornell faculty and staff, wrote significant portions of the report. The report’s theme this year is Innovation Feeding the World, and Cornell faculty contributed their expertise at the intersection of business and agricultural sciences.

The chapter on “Innovation in Agriculture and Food Systems in the Digital Age” was written by Harold van Es, professor of soil and water management, and Joshua Woodard, assistant professor of applied economics and management.

Miguel Gómez, associate professor of applied economics and management, and Katie Ricketts, M.S. ’12, wrote the chapter on “Innovations in Food Distribution: Food Value Chain Transformations in Developing Countries and Their Implications for Nutrition.”

Dutta, GII lead researcher Rafael Escalona Reynoso and GII project manager Jordan Litner contributed to Chapter 1, which sums up the results and findings of this year’s report.

Cornell SC Johnson College of Business
Dutta talks about the Global Innovation Index 2017, Innovation Feeding the World.

Dutta founded the Global Innovation Index in 2007 while a professor at INSEAD. His goal was to produce a comprehensive broad-based model of innovation that captured its complex nature in both developed and emerging economies. This year marks the 10th edition of the report.

In a new feature for the GII, a special section by WIPO looks at “invention hot spots” around the globe that show the highest density of inventors listed in international patent applications.

The GII 2017 notes a continued gap in innovative capacity between developed and developing nations and lackluster growth rates for research and development activities at the government and corporate levels.

In 2017, Switzerland leads the rankings for the seventh consecutive year, with high-income economies taking 24 of the top 25 spots; China is the exception at 22. In 2016, China became the first-ever middle-income economy in the top 25.

“Efforts to bridge the innovation divide have to start with helping emerging economies understand their innovation strengths and weaknesses, and create appropriate policies and metrics,” said Dutta. “This has been the GII’s purpose for more than 10 years now.”

Other results include:

Two North American countries – the U.S. (fourth overall) and Canada (18th globally) – show particularly sophisticated financial markets and intensity of venture capital activity, which help stimulate private-sector economic activity.

In this year’s edition, 15 of the top 25 global economies are in Europe. Europe is particularly strong in human capital and research, infrastructure and business sophistication. European economies rank first in almost half the indicators composing the GII.

The Republic of Korea maintains its top overall rankings in patenting and other indicators related to intellectual property, while Japan is in the top 10 for research and development, information and communication technologies, trade, competition, market scale, knowledge absorption, creation and diffusion.

India, 60th globally, is the top-ranked economy in Central and Southern Asia and has now outperformed on innovation relative to its gross domestic product per capita for seven years in a row.

Israel (17th overall) and Cyprus (30th overall) achieve the top two spots in the region for the fifth consecutive year. The largest economies in Latin America and the Caribbean (Chile, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina) show particular strengths in institutions, infrastructure and business sophistication.

Sub-Saharan Africa draws its highest scores in institutions and market sophistication, where economies such as Mauritius, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Rwanda and Burkina Faso perform on par or better than some of their development-level peers in Europe and Southeast Asia, East Asia and Oceania.

The index is submitted to an independent statistical audit by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. To download the full report visit:


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