US Jumps Five Spots in Innovation Rankings
The Global Innovation Index measures which countries are the most innovative.
CREDIT: Global Innovation Index
The United States is now officially the 5th-most innovative country in the world, the Global Innovation Index (GII) announced today (July 8) in New York. That's admittedly a less prestigious position than the four countries that ranked higher, but a far sight better than last year's 10th-place ranking.
The GII represents a collaboration among a number of academic and corporate entities. Each year, it catalogues an exhaustive report on the ability of every country to innovate; the report ranks these nations according to their relative economic strength.
The United States falls under the GII's "high-income economy" category, which includes 45 countries worldwide. Switzerland came in first place among high-income economies, followed by Sweden, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Finland placed just below the United States, followed by Hong Kong, Singapore, Denmark and Ireland.
Jumping five places in a single year is a great accomplishment, but it's important to keep in mind that the rankings for economically similar countries are usually very close and defined by a mind-boggling amount of math.
The GII evaluates each country based on seven categories: institutions, human capital and research, infrastructure, market sophistication, business sophistication, knowledge and technology outputs, and creative outputs. Some of these categories in turn contain more than 15 subcategories, including "pupil-teacher ratio" in secondary school, along with "Wikipedia monthly edits" and "video uploads on YouTube" from citizens between the ages of 15 and 69.
The real value of the data lies in the detailed subcategories, which indicate a country's greatest strengths and weaknesses. For example, the United States excels in coordinating research between universities and private industry, but falls down when it comes to placing graduate students in science and engineering programs.
After the GII tallies these numbers, it assigns each country a rating out of a potential 142 points. The United States earned 60.3 points, whereas Switzerland earned 66.6 points and Ireland earned 57.9 — not insignificant differences, but hardly enough to draw sweeping conclusions about a nation's innovative power. [See also: Top 10 American Innovations]
This innovative ability can come from consumers as well. "Consumers also innovate," Soumitra Dutta, a dean at the Johnson school, told TechNewsDaily at the GII presentation. Consumers "are participants and co-creators in the product cycle."
According to Dutta, consumers play an integral role in the evolution of businesses and their home countries, since, ultimately, corporations must serve consumer needs. An innovative country "creates a conducive environment for citizens to innovate," he said. "Consumers benefit corporations."
The Johnson School at Cornell University, the INSEAD business school, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the Booz & Co. consulting firm, the Confederation of Indian Industry, Emirian telecom company du and Chinese communications company Huawei all participate in the yearly GII. The report is not exactly light reading, but at least the data is about as verifiable and reliable as it gets.