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Six Findings from the Global Innovation Index 2016 Report

Science and Innovation Are More Internationalized and Collaborative Than Ever Before

The Global Innovation Index (GII) 2016 report, “Winning with Global Innovation,” gathered detailed metrics for 128 economies, representing 92.8% of the world’s population and 97.9% of global GDP. Falling into two general categories: 1) strategies for innovation that can support global goals and 2) observations about geographic regions, here are the main points determined by the report’s six key findings.

Over the last nine years, the GII has established itself as a leading reference on innovation—capturing the multi-dimensional facets of innovation and providing the tools that can assist in tailoring policies to promote long-term output growth, improved productivity, and job growth.

Finding One: Leveraging global innovation can help avoid a continued low-growth scenario.

  • The gist: More efforts are needed to return to pre-crisis R&D growth levels and to counteract an apparent R&D expenditure slowdown in 2014 caused by slow growth in emerging economies and tight R&D budgets in the higher-income economies.
  • The goal: Policy makers need to step up public investments in innovation to boost short-term demand and raise long-term growth potential. If R&D expenses or incentives to innovators are not sustained, the progress accumulated in previous years will quickly disappear.

Finding Two: There is need for a global innovation mindset and discussions on fresh governance frameworks.

  • The gist: Though there is common wisdom that science and innovation are more internationalized and collaborative than ever, most metrics and innovation policies are designed for the national level. Countries are regularly perceived as “contenders rather than collaborators.”
  • The goal: There are many ways to better communicate and amplify the benefits of global innovation and related cooperation, but generally speaking, a smart, globally-orientated innovation policies and a new global innovation mindset can provide a timely counter to rising sentiments of nationalism and fragmentation.

Finding Three: Innovation is becoming more global but divides remain.

  • The gist: Rather than leveling the playing field, a multipolar world of research and innovation has emerged. Low-income economies successfully continue to close the innovation divide that separates them from middle-income economies, but the divide between upper-middle-income economies and high-income economies is large.
  • The goal: Thus far, only China has seen its R&D expenditures or other innovation input and output metrics move closer to rich countries, such as the USA. To truly level the playing field, more supportive innovation policy needs to become universal.

Finding Four: There is no mechanical recipe to create sound innovation systems; entrepreneurial incentives and “space for innovation” matter.

  • The gist: Creating an organic innovation system poses an interesting dilemma for governments and their role in future innovation policy models. Though government coordination has been shown to play an important role in generating innovation, overreaching could easily dilute the possibility of self-sustaining organic innovation ecosystems.
  • The goal: Developing countries should avoid over-relying on government forces as the sole driver to orchestrating a sound innovation system. For governments, finding the right balance between intervention and laissez-faire has never been as challenging.

Finding Five: Sub-Saharan Africa needs to preserve the innovation momentum in one of the most promising regions.

  • The gist: Since 2012, Sub-Saharan Africa has had more countries (often oil-importing countries) among the group of “innovation achievers” than any other region. Though they perform better than their level of development would predict, it’s not uniform across all economies. What’s more, economic forecasts predict that Sub-Saharan Africa will face an economic slowdown.
  • The goal: If and when an economic slowdown happens, it will be important for Africa to preserve its current innovation momentum and to continue moving away from relying on oil and commodity revenues.

Finding Six: Latin America is a region with untapped innovation potential with important risks to innovation efforts in the near-term.

  • The gist: Though most, if not all, countries in Latin America (particularly their local governments) continue to have the innovation agenda firmly on their radar, Latin America’s GII rankings have not steadily improved.
  • The goal: Greater regional R&D and innovation cooperation in Latin America are needed to encourage short-term political and economic constraints and to cling to longer-term innovation commitments and results.

So, There You Have It

451 pages in a tiny nutshell. If you would like to take a deeper dive into the 2016 GII report, you can do so on GII’s website: https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/home.

More Stories By Tyron Stading

Tyron Stading is president and founder of Innography, and chief data officer for CPA Global. He has been named one of the “World’s Leading IP Strategists" by IAM, and one of National Law Journal's "50 Intellectual Property Trailblazers & Pioneers". Before Innography, Tyron was an IBM worldwide industry solutions manager in the telecommunications and utilities sector, and worked at several start-ups focused on mobile communications and networks security. He has published multiple research papers and filed more than three dozen patents. Tyron has a BS in Computer Science from Stanford University and an MS in Technology Commercialization from The University of Texas.