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September 15, 2014

Italy: The world’s most innovative countries

Europe is the breeding ground of innovation: despite its arduous economic recovery, it is the region with the highest innovation rate in the world. According to the 2014 Global Innovation Index of the most innovative countries, 7 of the top 10 and 16 of the top 25 are European.

The Global Innovation Index is prepared by Insead, one of the world’s leading business and company management schools, and is one of the most accredited sources guiding the innovation-related investment and strategy of companies, ministers and heads of state. The report, which this year focuses on the human factor as the main contributor to innovation, analyses 143 countries using 81 indicators, grouped in seven macrocategories (istitutions, human capital and research, infrastructure, market sophistication, business sophistication, knowledge and technology, creativity) to assess their level of innovation capacity, which they can use as a lever in economic and social development. 

The first three places in the rankings are again taken by Switzerland, the UK and Sweden, followed by Finland, the Netherlands, the US, Singapore, Denmark, Luxembourg and Hong Kong (considered as a country in its own right). Ireland slips out of the top ten from last year, to be replaced by Luxembourg. The countries at the top of the ranking, says Insead, are those that have created an environment that favours innovation by investing in both human capital and new infrastructure. In particular, the 25 most innovative countries register very high scores in terms of infrastructure for information and communication technology, workforce training, knowledge diffusion and creative goods and services.

Insead also shows innovation quality, measuring the performance of each country’s universities, academic publications and international patents: first in quality among high-income countries are the US, followed by Japan, Germany and Switzerland. Among middle-income countries, the highest innovation quality is produced by China, Brazil and India. The report notes however that there remains a wide gap between countries: the 25 most innovative countries are more or less always the same, albeit with a few changes in position: the others find it difficult to keep pace, both for economic reasons and because of difficulties relating to the retention of the human capital necessary to sustain innovation.

Despite the declining trend in investment in research and development globally, new eipcentres of innovation are springing up all over the world. Among middle-income economies, 12 countries registered a significant surge in innovation in 2014, namely Moldova, Mongolia, Armenia, Ukraine, Georgia, Senegal, Jordan, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand, as well of course as India and China. Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Rwanda, Malawi, Gambia and Burkina Faso led the low-income ranking. These countries, says Insead, focused on the four pillars of innovation: they promoted education and “created” talent, facilitated the development of an entrepreneurial culture and ensured fertile ground for new companies, and finally put in place the infrastructure and institutions necessary to support innovation.

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