The innovation divide

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


There is a persistent innovation gap between national income groups, finds the Global Innovation Index 2019.


This article is part of a series about the power of innovation to solve social and economic challenges. Stories and statistics are drawn from the Global Innovation Index 2019.


In 2019, China entered the ranks of the top 15 most innovative nations in the world. It is the first and only middle-income country in that elite group – all others are high income countries. In fact, China is the only non-high-income economy in the entire top 30, finds the Global Innovation Index 2019 (GII)


Looking slightly further down the rankings, Malaysia (35th) and Bulgaria (40th) figure as the only other middle-income economies anywhere near the top 25. While there are some promising signs of movement among middle-income nations – Thailand (43rd), Montenegro (45th), and the Russian Federation (46th) are performing above high-income economies in some areas, and Viet Nam continues to improve its scores, including in technology outputs – overall it’s clear that the divide between economies remains wide.



Inequality drivers


The GII compares nations on a range of indicators, putting an emphasis on metrics that indicate how nurturing a nation is towards innovation. It finds that on these ‘input’ measures, the innovation systems of most low- and middle-income economies share a common set of characteristics that restrict their performance.


In many low- and middle-income countries, low education levels are matched by low investment in science and technology. Another trait shared by many is less exposure to foreign technologies, and limited inward knowledge flows. Weaker linkages between science and industry, challenging business environments, and underdeveloped venture capital markets are further hallmarks of many low- and middle-income economies. Within domestic firms, there is often low capacity for innovation, and limited use of intellectual property.


Another important factor is widespread informality, which makes innovation more difficult to measure and study. This is something the GII continues to address by evolving its methodology, and by encouraging data gathering among the nations it studies.


The GII 2019 finds a strong two-way link between innovation and economic growth. It underlines the power of innovation to drive growth, pointing towards the successful strategies and policies that nations can pursue to improve their innovation performance.


The Global Innovation Index 2019 is the result of a collaboration between Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as co-publishers, and their Knowledge Partners, Confederation of Indian Industry, Dassault Systèmes, SEBRAE, Brazilian Micro and Small Industry Support Services, and Brazilian Confederation of Industry.


Published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0) licence. That means you can copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format for any purpose, even commercially, but you cannot change it in any way.

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