Small relative changes among countries can have significant impacts on their respective rankings.
Uruguay placed 52nd in the 2013 Global Innovation Index (GII), up 15 places from its ranking of 67th in 2012. The key improvements to the country’s ranking lie within the model’s institutions input sub-index and the creative output sub-index. Both indicators are strongly correlated with Uruguay’s creation of the National Research and Innovation Agency (ANII) and innovation policies created to reward and encourage innovation.
ANII is now yielding results after being established in 2007, helping Uruguay to jump up 15 places in this year’s GII. Other policies aimed at fostering innovation, such as subsidies given to the most dynamic companies already with an inherent innovation profile, are being introduced with the goal of linking local development with existing policies.
Uruguay is ranked 45th under the institutions pillar, due to improvements in the business environment category, particularly regarding the ease of starting a business. Uruguay is 36th place in the creative outputs pillar, due to an increase in the number of trademark registrations by residents over the past year. The country’s improvement in online creativity is also laudable, evident within the generation of more generic top-level domains and Wikipedia monthly edits.
Another measurement of Uruguay’s improvement resulting from increasing its focus on innovation can be seen within the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI). In the 2012-2013 report, Uruguay is recognized as a country in transition from being efficiency-driven to innovation-driven. As a country moves into the innovation-driven stage,“ wages will have risen by so much that they are able to sustain those higher wages and the associated standard of living only if their businesses are able to compete with new and/or unique products, services, models, and processes.” As such, as Uruguay continues to improve its level of innovation, the country will see higher wages and more jobs.
Uruguay’s strengths as evident from the GII results are:
Free education; and
These strengths put the country as an innovation leader in Latin America, as posited within the GII rankings shown in Figure 1 below.
Whilst Uruguay is recognized for its big jump in ranking from 2012 to 2013, there still exists a challenge to align and implement national innovation objectives and development policies. This also proves true from the GCI data, stating Uruguay can only move to become an innovation-driven country if it adheres to these innovation policies.
Further challenges Uruguay experiences hindering its innovation ranking mostly revolve around market sophistication, in particular its ability to provide:
Domestic credit to private sector;
Microfinance gross loans;
Total value of stocks traded;
Venture capital deals.
As the country works toward strengthening these market sophistication measures and pushing innovation to be an inherent part of culture, it will transition to become solely innovation-driven, and we can expect to see a further jump in its ranking in future GII reports.
To read more about the innovation policies implemented in Uruguay since 2007, refer to “Chapter 8: Creating Local Innovation Dynamics: The Uruguayan Experience” in the 2013 GII report.
Alexandra Bernard, Project Manager, Global Innovation Index