Innovation in an international comparison: which countries are successful? (part III)

Would you have thought Switzerland and Singapore are among the world’s most innovative countries? An interesting study has looked at 35 countries.

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‘Innovation systems are highly dynamic: they change constantly and often in unpredictable ways,’ according to the study ‘Innovation Indicator 2017’, which is available in English and German. The study* surveyed 35 countries using 38 individual indicators to find out how capable of innovation different countries and their economies are. The results are of interest to entrepreneurs, managers and project managers from SMEs in Europe, as it allows them to see if their (geographical) location offers innovation-friendly and supportive conditions.

Innovations are the key to success, competitiveness and growth

It is interesting that the most innovative countries by far are Switzerland and Singapore. Why? Whether it is in industry, science, education, state or society: Switzerland is leading the way as it was the only country to achieve a very high value in all five sub-areas (industry: 1st, education: 2nd, science and society: 3rd). The science system, for example, is excellent – universities and institutes cooperate internationally more intensively than most comparable institutions in other countries.

Another strength is the knowledge and technology transfer: in Switzerland, the interfaces between science and industry work well. In second place, Singapore shines thanks to comprehensive state funding activities – there is not only support for research and development in companies through taxes, but the state itself demands new technologies and thus provides incentives and important stimulus for innovations. At the same time, industry in Singapore is well connected internationally.

Digitalisation is an important indicator for innovation

But Innovation Indicator 2017 also expands on individual areas relevant to the description of a country’s innovative power. For example, the ‘Digitalization Indicator’ is described in detail, and is led by the following ten countries: the four Scandinavian countries of Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway, as well as the USA, the United Kingdom and Australia, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Israel. Specifically, Finland leads the digitalisation area of Research/Technology, Norway leads the Society area, Israel is ahead in the Industry section, the USA is top in Infrastructure/State and the Netherlands stand out with innovative business models.

infographic of the most innovative countries

The most innovative countries in the world. The top performance of the Innovation Indicator

Scandinavia, the UK and Benelux: many EU regions are on a similar level in terms of innovative performance

The infographic shows that the two leaders, Switzerland and Singapore, are followed by a larger group of 18 countries who all have a similar level of innovative power, with little difference between them in terms of performance. This group is led by Belgium and Germany.

In the international overview of average broadband coverage, for example, Belgium (98.9%) is in very good shape, just behind Malta (100%) and Switzerland (99%). Above all, the British strengths are the social framework conditions for innovations and a good education system. Finland also scores highly in terms of education and also puts its faith in comparatively high spending on research and development, which is something that also applies for Denmark. At the same time, despite being a small country, it generates innovate advantages through a high level of international networking. Japan is last in this group – due to the low degree of openness of the Japanese innovation and science systems. Japan thus demonstrates a low propensity towards cooperation both with international industry partners, as well as between companies and science institutions in the country itself.

If you would like more detailed data on different innovation factors or specific countries, you will find lots of information in the study and on the home page.

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