By Shreerupa Mitra
Switzerland remains the world’s most innovative country, while India, Kenya, and Viet Nam are outperforming their development-level peers, the latest data from the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2017 shows.
India ranks 60th in the GII ranking that surveys some 130 economies using a range of metrics from patent filings to education spending—up by six positions from last year and 21 positions from 2015.
The GII 2017 report released on Thursday is co-authored by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and is in its tenth edition.
Switzerland retains its first spot for the seventh year in a row followed by Sweden, the Netherlands, the US, the UK, Denmark, Singapore, Finland, Germany and Ireland as ten of the world’s most-innovative countries.
Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and China are the top innovating countries in the south east Asia, east Asia and Oceania region.
China is the first middle-income country that broke through the top-25 ranking last year and has further improved its position to settle for the 22nd position this year—up by three positions from 2016.
India has improved its ranking owing to its strengths in human capital and research (64th), graduates in science and engineering (10th), global R&D companies (14th), QS university ranking (21st), market sophistication (39th), business sophistication and ease of protecting minority investors. On the output side, its strengths lie in ICT services exports (1st), creative goods export (18th) and growth rate of GDP per person engaged (5th).
The country’s weakest points remain in its business environment that ranks 121, particularly with the ease of starting a business (114th), ease of resolving insolvency (111th), and the ease of paying taxes (118th).
It also shows glaring weaknesses in investment in education (the QS ranking majorly reflects the peer perception of the education sector) where it ranks 114th—sub-indicators in PISA scales in reading, mathematics, and science shows a ranking of 71, pupil-teacher ratio ranks India at a low of 104th position, and tertiary inbound mobility at 102nd position. India also exhibits “relative weaknesses” in indicators of global entertainment and media market (61st) as well as video uploads on YouTube (68th).
In its income group (lower-middle income) it ranks 6th and in its region (central and southern Asia) it ranks first in the innovation indices. India has consistently been a “pillar outperformer” (countries that outperform their income group peers in four or more GII pillars) from 2011 onwards and an “innovation outperformer” (countries which GII scores are higher than expected, based on their level of economic development as measured by GDP per capita) from 2011 onwards—and, therefore, has been signaled as an “innovation outperformer”, again, this year in the GII report.
India has been on a roller coaster ride with its innovation rankings in the last decade whereas China has consistently improved its position. In 2008-09, India was overall ranked at 41 (while China was at 37), slipping to reach 66th position in 2012, slipping further to 81 in 2015, bouncing back to 66 last year, and finally settling for the 60th slot this year.
“We see a number of developments here, in particular, under the Modi administration that shows a real seriousness and scientific approach to innovation,” WIPO Director-General Francis Gurry told Firstpost calling the 21-slot jump in the last two years “a very significant improvement”.
“Innovation is a long-term game so the improvements are incremental”, Gurry said.
“In the case of India, the weaker side has always been the input. It is an efficient innovator, if you like, given the level of inputs,” Gurry added.
India’s rank in inputs has gained 28 positions in 2016, moving from the 100th to the 72nd spot, and 6 positions this year, reaching the 66th position. The rank in outputs has “improved significantly”, moving up by 10 positions in 2016, and by one position this year, reaching the 58th spot, according to the innovation index.
“And that reflects, I think, the seriousness of the attention that is being paid by the government to innovation as well as the responsiveness of the business, enterprise sector to the seriousness,” Gurry said.
However, India’s Innovation Efficiency Ratio that had reached the very strong second global position in 2012 “and since then has shown a downward trend, dropping significantly in 2016”. This year, however, it has increased by 10 positions and ranks 53rd globally.
It is important to note that the GII favours small, homogeneous countries like Switzerland, Singapore, Denmark because “it is easier to get an even performance across the whole country”, Gurry noted, rather than large countries like the US, China or India.
WIPO is working with India to improve the points in the capturing of data to better reflect the actual performance in the innovation area and also on the production of a state innovation index the results of which will become available later this year, the UN’s intellectual property agency chief said.
Will future GII reports also measure the potential of a country to innovate?
“In a sense, innovation does reflect potential because we are measuring the capacity of country to innovate. We are constantly looking at ways to improve that measurement, you see it coming through in certain areas. For example, we try to measure the quality of innovation, and in terms of quality, India comes out as number 27,” Gurry answers.