The 16 most innovative countries in the world

Since 2008, Cornell University, INSEAD business school, and the World Intellectual Property Organization have released the annual Global Innovation Index.

It's essentially a ranking of the most innovative countries in the world.

This year's winners are no strangers to the top of the list, dominating in seven general categories: research, infrastructure, institutions, market and business sophistication, and a commitment to knowledge and creativity.

The most innovative countries teach creatively, enforce progressive laws, do business intelligently, and live on the cutting edge.

Take a look at the countries that made the cut in the slideshow below:

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The world's most innovative countries
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The world's most innovative countries

16. Hong Kong — The region has dipped nine spots since 2013 and is falling every year, due mostly to waning patent filings and education scores. However, the report finds Hong Kong still plays a major a role in the global economy, particularly because of its infrastructure and how robust its market has become due to investment and trade opportunities.

 Photo credit: Getty

15. France — Up three places from 2016, France's greatest strengths lie in the market sophistication category, specifically with venture capital deals, the report finds. It also places near the top in research and development. 

Photo credit: Getty

14. Japan — Known for its manufacturing and technology sector, Japan ranks highest in infrastructure and patent filings. Last year it missed cracking the top 15 by one place. 

Photo credit: Getty

13. Iceland — As the country bounces back from financial woes, it's making storage of the world's internet data its primary goal. Iceland has been ranked 13th three years in a row.

Photo credit: Getty

12. Luxembourg — The tiny country's latest ranking comes from high scores in creative outputs, such as feature films and printed books.

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11. Republic of Korea — According to the Index, South Korea's greatest asset is its education sector. The country has also seen tremendous growth in research and development.

Photo credit: Getty

10. Ireland — Down three places in the ranking since 2016, Ireland is still recognized for its infrastructure and creative outputs, like its thriving design culture. 

Photo credit: Getty

9. Germany — The country ranks at the top of the list's measurement of patent creation, and has strong technology output, especially in automobile technology.

Photo credit: Getty

8. Finland — Though it hovered in the top five for the last several years, Finland has fallen slightly this year due to declining rankings in technology and research. It still ranks first overall in education, though.

Photo credit: Getty

7. Singapore — One of the most consistently highly ranked countries, Singapore stands out for its political environment and ecological sustainability. 

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6. Denmark — Denmark leads for its efficient system of government, large quantity of researchers, and quality of education. It's moved up two spots since 2016.

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5. United Kingdom — The UK's success in infrastructure, such as the London Crossrail, buoy it near the top. But the country has lower scores in education and productivity.

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4. United States — The US held steady in its fourth-place ranking since 2016, most notably due to the strength of its global-facing markets, the value of its stock trades, and its widespread implementation of internet technology. 

Photo credit: Getty

3. Netherlands — With a high volume of patents filed, the Netherlands leads the survey's business sophistication rankings. The country also falls near the top in the categories of knowledge and technology outputs, which include things like inventions and trademarks.

Photo credit: Getty

2. Sweden — Well-designed universities and high-achieving graduates have kept Sweden in the top three for the last six years. 

Photo credit: Getty

1. Switzerland — The country has been number one since 2011 because of its knowledge-based economy and ability to turn innovative thinking into lucrative projects. For example, local bank UBS is now using virtual reality to project investment portfolios to its clients. 

Photo credit: Getty

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