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Asia's growth markets diverge in 2014 Global Innovation Index

Peter Leung, Hong Kong

The 2014 edition of the Global Innovation Index (GII) finds a relatively stable top table, while several developing and middle-income markets make big moves

For the fourth straight year, Switzerland tops the 2014 Global Innovation Index researched and published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and WIPO along with several partner organisations. The United Kingdom ranks as the most second most innovative country, while Sweden comes in third, the two swapping places from their 2013 spots. Finland and the Netherlands round out the top five, with the US coming in sixth.

In fact, the countries making up the top 10 are largely identical from 2013, with the exception of Luxembourg moving from the 12th to 9th, pushing Ireland from 10th to 11th. The list of countries making up the top 25 did not change at all, though there is some shuffling in position among those countries.

Innovation beyond inventions

The GII, now in its seventh edition, seeks to measure innovation by looking at various innovation inputs and outputs, with the two sides weighted equally. The inputs are divided into six categories: institutions, human capital and research, infrastructure, market sophistication and business sophistication. On the output side, the countries are evaluated on their knowledge and technology outputs and creative outputs. Some of the things measured here include IP-specific issues, such as patents filings and PCT filings per capita.

The GII also looks at the ratio between inputs and outputs and gives an efficiency score.

In a press conference earlier today in Australia introducing the report, the editors stressed that innovation is an open-ended concept that goes beyond just inventions or patent filings. For example, Bruno Lanvin of INSEAD pointed to Apple's push to sell music by single digital downloads as an innovation that was not an invention but nevertheless played a big role in changing how music is consumed.

Asia rising and falling

There is considerable movement in this year's rankings in the Asia Pacific region, with China (excluding Hong Kong, which is evaluated separately) moving up six spots to the 29th place. According to the data breakdown, China's improvement is based on a strong showing on several metrics, including education due in part to a strong showing on the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment programme (though the methodology has come under considerable criticism, especially when applied to China), continual growth of spending on R&D, the high number domestic patent applications (both invention and utility models) and a strong showing on various innovation output criterion.

India on the other hand fell 10 places to 76th. The report cites several areas where improvement is needed, including institutions (106th), human capital and research (96th) and business sophistication (93rd). India also saw considerable drops in several important innovation output categories, including knowledge and technology outputs and creative outputs. Education is cited as another area that poses a challenge, where a focus on a limited number of fields, growth centred on teaching rather than research and questions about the quality of the education in some institutions.

The full text of the report can be found here.


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