Singapore, Korea and Japan most innovative countries in Asia

Quality of human capital is one of the key measurements in the 2017 Global Innovation Index.

Singapore is the most innovative country in Asia for the second year running.

It ranks first in Asia and seventh worldwide in the Global Innovation Index 2017 (GII) by INSEAD, Cornell University and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

However, this represents a drop of one place for the country, from last year’s global ranking of 6.

Singapore is still first globally in “innovation input index”, and top five in all other pillars including human capital and research.

South Korea, the second most innovative Asian country and 11th overall globally, also maintains its top positions in patenting and other intellectual property-related markers.

Rounding out the top three in Asia is Japan, which increases two places to 14th this year. It is In the top ten for research and development (R&D) and information and communication technologies.

China continues moving ahead in the overall ranking (22nd overall this year), reflecting high scores in business sophistication and knowledge and technology outputs. China this year displays a strong performance in several indicators, including the presence of global R&D companies, research talent in business enterprise, patent applications and other IP‐related variables.

Within the Association of East Asian Nations (ASEAN) grouping, Singapore is unsurprisingly the top performer in most of the indicators, with a few notable exceptions: ICT services exports, where the Philippines leads, and expenditure on education, where Vietnam leads.

Thailand’s strengths include creative goods exports and gross domestic expenditure on R&D financed by business, where it places 5th and 6th globally.

Malaysia, 37th overall, ranks well in high-tech imports and exports, university/industry research collaboration, and graduates in science and engineering.

Globally, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, the US and the UK are the world’s most innovative countries.

But key findings this year revealed that a group of nations including India, Kenya, and Vietnam are outperforming other economies at a similar developmental stage.   

India, in particular, is now a fast-emerging innovation centre in Asia. The study also found high innovation performance in Sub-Saharan Africa relative to development and an opportunity to improve innovation capacity in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Each year, the GII surveys some 130 economies using dozens of metrics, from patent filings to education spending. These indicators provide decision makers a high-level look at the innovative activity that increasingly drives economic and social growth.

Now in its tenth edition, the GII 2017 notes a continued gap in innovative capacity between developed and developing nations and lackluster growth rates for R&D activities, both at the government and corporate levels. 

“Innovation is the engine of economic growth in an increasingly knowledge-based global economy, but more investment is needed to help boost human creativity and economic output,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.

“Innovation can help transform the current economic upswing into longer-term growth.”

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