Global Innovation Index 2016

China joins the ranks of the world’s 25 most-innovative economies, while Switzerland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Finland and Singapore lead the 2016 rankings in the Global Innovation Index, released on August 15, 2016 by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

China’s top-25 entry marks the first time a middle-income country has joined the highly developed economies that have historically dominated the top of the Global Innovation Index (GII) throughout its nine years of surveying the innovative capacity of 100-plus countries across the globe.

China’s progression reflects the country’s improved innovation performance as well as methodological considerations such as improved innovation metrics in the GII.

Despite China’s rise, an “innovation divide” persists between developed and developing countries amid increasing awareness among policymakers that fostering innovation is crucial to a vibrant, competitive economy.

Highlights from the report

Innovation requires continuous investment. Before the 2009 crisis, research and development (R&D) expenditure grew at an annual pace of approximately 7%. GII 2016 data indicate that global R&D grew by only 4% in 2014. This was a result of slower growth in emerging economies and tighter R&D budgets in high-income economies – this remains a source of concern.

“Investing in innovation is critical to raising long-term economic growth,” says WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “In this current economic climate, uncovering new sources of growth and leveraging the opportunities raised by global innovation are priorities for all stakeholders.”

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry presents the Global Innovation Index 2016 at a press conference taking place at the United Nations Office at Geneva (photo: WIPO).

Top RankingsAll 2016 rankings

1. Switzerland (Number 1 in 2015)

2. Sweden (3)
3. United Kingdom (2)
4. United States of America (5)
5. Finland (6)
6. Singapore (7)
7. Ireland (8)
8. Denmark (10)
9. Netherlands (4)
10. Germany (12)
11. Republic of Korea (14)
12. Luxembourg (9)
13. Iceland (13)
14. Hong Kong (China) (11)
15. Canada (16)
16. Japan (19)
17. New Zealand (15)
18. France (21)
19. Australia (17)
20. Austria (18)
21. Israel (22)
22. Norway (20)
23. Belgium (25)
24. Estonia (23)
25. China (29)

All 2016 Rankings

Among the GII 2016 leaders, four economies — Japan, the U.S., the UK, and Germany— stand out in “innovation quality,” a top-level indicator that looks at the caliber of universities, number of scientific publications and international patent filings. China moves to 17th place in innovation quality, making it the leader among middle-income economies for this indicator, followed by India which has overtaken Brazil.

Soumitra Dutta, Dean, Cornell College of Business, and co-editor of the report, points out: “Investing in improving innovation quality is essential for closing the innovation divide. While institutions create an essential supportive framework for doing so, economies need to focus on reforming education and growing their research capabilities to compete successfully in a rapidly changing globalized world.”


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