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News : Innovation Last Updated: Apr 16, 2013 - 10:56 AM


Global Information Technology Report 2013: Finland best of 144 countries as Ireland slips
By Finfacts Team
Apr 15, 2013 - 7:57 AM

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Finland has toppled Sweden from the top spot in a ranking of economies that are best placed to benefit from new information and communication technologies (ICTs). Singapore came in second and Sweden third in the 2013 Networked Readiness Index, compiled by the World Economic Forum (WEF) for its Global Information Technology Report. Ireland fell two rank to 27th of 144 countries.

The Networked Readiness Index, calculated by the World Economic Forum, and INSEAD, the French business school, ranks 144 economies based on their capacity to exploit the opportunities offered by the digital age.

The WEF says Nordic countries and the so-called Asian Tigers - - Singapore; Taiwan (China); South Korea; and Hong Kong SAR (special administrative region) - - dominate this year's index thanks to their business-friendly approach, highly skilled populations and investments in infrastructure, among other strengths. Finland, which arguably has one of the best educational systems in the world, stands out as a digital innovation hub. It boasts the world’s highest number of patent applications per capita in the domain of ICTs), which are ubiquitous in Finland. Ninety per cent of Finnish households have Internet access, compared to about 70% in the United States and 85% in the United Kingdom.

Among the top 10, the United Kingdom posts the biggest rank improvement to 7th place, above the United States, which slips to 9th place despite a performance essentially unchanged from the previous year.

Report

Rankings [pdf]

The BRICS economies, led by Russia (55th) continue to lag behind in the rankings. The report suggests that their rapid economic growth may be in jeopardy unless the right investments are made in ICT, skills and innovation. Down seven, China ranks 58th, followed by Brazil (60th), India (68th), and South Africa (70th). 

The researchers look at 10 areas in ranking an economy on what it calls its Networked Readiness Index, including political and regulatory environment; business and innovation environment; infrastructure and digital content; affordability; skills; individual usage; business usage; government usage; economic impacts and social impacts.

"I think China has dropped not so much because the circumstances became worse, but because other countries have been catching up faster," said Benat Bilbao-Osario, a co-editor of the report. "To a large extent, China's stagnation reflects its large geography," he added. "You have southeast China, which is actually really well connected and developed, but then you have large portions of the population of inland China where the situation is not so rosy."

Another concern is the entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem where China is still scoring quite low, Bilbao-Osario said. "This ranking can be a sort of wakeup call for the country in order to think where its growth is going to come from."

He singled out Lenovo and Huawei as companies in China that are excelling in innovation and introducing new products.

"I know that China is starting to implement ICT more," Bilbao-Osario said. "However, in order to be able to remain competitive and keep growing, China will have to focus on differentiating its supply of goods and services, which implies having higher rates of innovation." In addressing China's environmental issues, he said ICT may be better integrated with other technologies to boost a better environment.

In 2006, the Irish government set a goal that by 2013 Ireland would be recognised as a 'world-class knowledge economy.' Even before 2013, the goal was quietly buried while policy makers and the eco system of vested interests dependent on public funds, have carried on as if there never was a goal.

Patent applications at the Irish Patents Office in 2011 were at the lowest since 1982.

Finfacts Report: Innovation, a failed enterprise policy and inconvenient facts for 2013

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