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Global innovation: the rise of middle-income countries

July 23, 2019

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While high-income countries still lead the way when it comes to innovation, there has been something of a shift in the global innovation landscape, with middle-income economies climbing up the ranks. These findings appear in the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2019, which concludes that innovation is blossoming globally.

European nations still mostly dominate the 30 most innovative countries, yet the likes of China (14th) and India (52nd), which is consistently among the global leaders in innovation drivers, have introduced policies that prioritise innovation.

Most noteworthy are the several countries outperforming their level of economic development. They include Vietnam, Moldova, Costa Rica, South Africa, Thailand, Georgia and the Philippines. Even low-income economies, such as Burundi, Malawi, Mozambique and Rwanda, are seen to be thriving.

Key findings

According to the GII 2019, the global leader in innovation performance is Switzerland, followed by Sweden, the U.S., the Netherlands and the UK. Finland, Denmark, Singapore, Germany and Israel round up the top 10.

While innovation seems to be blossoming globally, particularly among middle-income countries and despite economic slowdown, the report shows that public expenditure in Research & Development is growing slowly or not at all.

This is particularly evident in some high-income economies, which is concerning given its central role in future innovations.

The 2019 theme of GI is Creating Healthy Lives – The Future of Medical Innovation, which looks at how innovations such as Artificial Intelligence, genomics and mobile health applications can shape the future of healthcare.

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