Switzerland, the UK and Sweden top Global Innovation Index 2014
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Jul 21, 2014 - 2:25 AM

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Silicon Valley beat previous winners Boston, New York and Vienna to become the world’s most innovative city in 2014, in the 8th annual Innovation Cities Index released by global innovation agency, 2thinknow.

Switzerland, the United Kingdom (UK) and Sweden topped this year’s Global Innovation Index, while Sub-Saharan Africa posted a significant regional improvement in the annual rankings published by Cornell University, INSEAD, the French business school, and the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Amid a newly documented slowdown in the growth of global research and development, the theme of the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2014 is “The Human Factor in Innovation,” exploring the role of human capital in the innovation process and underlining the growing interest that firms and governments have shown in identifying and energizing creative individuals and teams.

The GII 2014 surveys 143 economies around the world, using 81 indicators–to gauge both their innovation capabilities and measurable results. Published annually since 2007, the GII is now a leading benchmarking tool for business executives, policy makers and others seeking insight into the state of innovation around the world. This year’s study is also said to benefit from the experience of its Knowledge Partners: the Confederation of Indian Industry, du and Huawei, as well as of an advisory board of 14 international experts.

In terms of innovation quality - - as measured by university performance, the reach of scholarly articles and the international dimension of patent applications - - the United States of America holds the top place within the high-income group, followed by Japan, Germany and Switzerland. Top-scoring middle-income economies are narrowing the gap on innovation quality with China in the lead, followed by Brazil and India.

There are anomalies where Ireland with foreign-owned companies accounting for almost three quarters of R&D spending but do little research that merits patenting, at an 11th ranking ahead of Germany, Japan, South Korea and Israel.

In addition there are companies such as Accenture, the US consultancy, being classified as "Irish" for tax purposes along with several other faux-Irish big R&D spenders - -  their US R&D spend is classified as Irish.

Computer services exports are boosted by tax avoidance strategies and only half of ICT (information, communications and technology) staff are tech professionals.

The reports says for 2013 and 2014, unofficial estimates point to a further slowdown in global R&D spending growth.

The main drivers of this slowdown in growth are the declining support of public R&D caused by fiscal consolidation and the end of stimulus packages coupled with the hesitant growth of company R&D expenditures.

While the majority of countries for which data are available continue to show positive R&D expenditure growth in 2013 and 2014. Yet strong R&D spending growth in 2013 and 2014 is expected to take place mostly in Asia, in particular in China, the Republic of Korea, and India. Anticipated R&D spending growth in absolute terms or as a share of GDP in top R&D spending high-income countries such as the USA and Japan, as well as the UK and other European economies, is expected to be flat or much or much reduced when compared with 2011 or 2012, the latter of which had often already seen slower growth.

In sum, business and total R&D spending are both now significantly above pre-crisis levels in some economies; in others they are below those levels, and some economies have been unaffected. A large number of Eastern European countries, other large European economies such as France and Germany, some high-income Asian economies such as South Korea, and emerging economies such as China and the Russian Federation have experienced no aggregate fall in their R&D spending as a result of the crisis. Some economies have seen important dips in R&D spending during the crisis but also experienced an important recovery (e.g., Estonia and the Netherlands); some (e.g., Israel) have seen a more timid recovery. The USA and Singapore, for instance, have recently returned to their pre-crisis levels for combined public and private R&D.

And some high-income economies, such as Spain, Finland, and Portugal, as well as the UK and Japan, continue to exhibit R&D spending below their pre-crisis levels.  

Top Ten 2014 ranking



Switzerland (Number 1 in 2013)


United States of America (5)


United Kingdom (3)


Singapore (8)


Sweden (2)


Denmark (9)


Finland (6)


Luxembourg (12)


Netherlands (4)


Hong Kong (China) (7)

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