The 12 most innovative countries in the world

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Innovation: What Is the Recipe for Success?


Innovation is one of the most exciting ways to move a country forward.

But for that to happen, a country must create an environment conducive to creative activity that is supported by both the public and private sectors.

More concretely, we're talking about having high-quality scientific research institutions, sufficient investment in research and development, and protection of intellectual property, according to the recent report by the World Economic Forum.

We took a closer look at the 12 countries that have successfully fostered such environments, and are leading the way as the most innovative countries in the world, according to data in the WEF's report. Check them out below.

12. United Kingdom

The United Kingdom ranked 2nd in the world for quality of scientific research institutions, and 4th for university-industry collaboration in research and development.

However, it scored 34th for government procurement of advanced tech products, and 18th for availability of scientists and engineers.

"The country has created a good set of conditions for its vibrant service sector to develop and for London to become the epicenter of the European tech and start-up scene," according to the report.

Source: World Economic Forum


11. Taiwan

Taiwan scored 13th in company spending on research and development, and 14th in university-industry collaboration in research and development.

However, it placed 29th for government procurement of advanced tech products, and 26th for quality of scientific research institutions.

Taiwan's overall global competitiveness slipped one rank this year, with its innovation and sophistication measure slipping. In fact, the "insufficient capacity to innovate" was listed as one of the most problematic factors for doing business this year, according to the report.

Source: World Economic Forum


10. Denmark

Denmark scored 8th for the ratio of PCT patents and applications to its population, and 11th for its capacity for innovation.

However, it scored 65th for government procurement of advanced tech products, and 35th for the availability of scientists and engineers.

Denmark's innovation index remains above that of most developed economies, and is one of the factors which make the country a competitive global economy, according to the report.

Source: World Economic Forum


9. Singapore

Singapore ranked 4th for government procurement of advanced tech products, and 5th for university-industry collaboration in research and development.

However, it placed 19th for capacity for innovation.

"With the best higher education and training system in the world, Singapore is well placed to increase technological adoption, business sophistication, and innovation," according to the report.

Source: World Economic Forum


8. Netherlands

The Netherlands scored 6th for the quality of scientific research institutions, and 9th for university-industry collaboration on research and development.

However, it placed 22nd for the availability of scientists and engineers, and 21st for government procurement of advanced tech products.

"The Dutch economy remains one of the most sophisticated and innovative in the world, with an open and efficient goods market," according to the report.

Source: World Economic Forum


7. Sweden

Sweden ranked 3rd for the ratio of PCT patents and applications to its population, and 4th for the capacity for innovation.

However, it placed 23rd for government procurement of advanced tech products, and 14th for the availability of scientists and engineers.

"The innovation ecosystem in Sweden benefits from high levels of technological adoption and ICT usage, and a sophisticated private sector," according to the report.

Source: World Economic Forum


6. Germany

Germany was ranked 5th for capacity for innovation, and 6th for company spending on research and development.

The only category where Germany didn't place in the top 10 was the availability of scientists and engineers, where it ranked 15th.

"The country's innovation system is characterized by high levels of company spending on R&D and a supportive research environment, including business collaboration with universities and strong scientific research institutions," according to the report.

Source: World Economic Forum


5. Japan

Japan placed 1st in the world for the ratio of PCT patents and applications to its population, and 2nd in the world for company spending on research and development.

However, it placed 16th for university-industry collaboration, and 14th for capacity for innovation.

"High-quality research institutions and company spending on R&D, coupled with an excellent availability of scientists and engineers, contribute to the country's overall highly innovative environment," according to the report.

Source: World Economic Forum


4. United States

The US was 2nd in the world for capacity for innovation, and 2nd for university-industry collaboration.

However, the US placed 11th for government procurement of advanced tech products.

"The United States' major strength is its unique combination of exceptional innovation capacity, large market size, and sophisticated businesses. The country's innovation capacity is driven by collaboration between firms and universities, human capital, and company spending on R&D," according to the report.

Source: World Economic Forum


3. Israel

Israel scored in the top 10 for every category. It placed 3rd in the world for capacity for innovation, and 3rd for quality of scientific research institutions.

Its two lowest categories were availability of scientists and engineers (8th) and government procurement of advanced tech products (8th).

Overall, Israel ranked as the 27th most competitive nation in the world, with its innovation category leading the way.

Source: World Economic Forum


2. Finland

Finland ranked 1st in the world for the availability of scientists and engineers, and for university-industry collaboration in research and development.

The only category it did not score in the top 10 was government procurement of advanced tech products, where Finland was ranked 33rd in the world.

Finland's "public institutions are transparent and efficient, its higher education and training system is among the best in the world, and its business sector is one of the most innovative," according to the report.

Source: World Economic Forum


1. Switzerland

Switzerland scored 1st in the world for three categories: capacity for innovation, quality of scientific research institutions, and company spending on research and development.

However, it placed 23rd for the availability of scientists and engineers.

"Switzerland leads the innovation pillar, thanks to its world-class research institutions, high spending on research and development by companies, and strong cooperation between the academic world and the private sector," according to the report. "But many other factors contribute to Switzerland's innovation ecosystem, including the level of business sophistication and the country's capacity to nurture and attract talent."

Source: World Economic Forum


And now take a look at...

The 33 most competitive countries in the world


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