28 September 2023

WIPO’s Global Innovation Index for 2023 ranks the most innovative economies

The 2023 Global Innovation Index (GII) has been formally unveiled by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). This latest GII assesses 132 nations, monitoring worldwide innovation patterns in the midst of a challenging landscape marked by sluggish economic rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, elevated interest rates, and geopolitical tensions. Nonetheless, it also reflects the potential of forthcoming innovation waves in the digital age and deep science, along with ongoing technological advancements.

For the 13th consecutive year, Switzerland secures the leading position, with Sweden, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Singapore following closely. In terms of innovation progress over the past decade, middle-income economies such as China, Turkey, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Iran have made substantial strides, although China has now slipped out of the ten following their improved 2022 ranking.

Results of the global top 100 Science & Technology cluster rankings

The 2023 GII also continues to examine the most prominent technology innovation hubs for the year. These ‘science and technology (S&T) hubs’ focus on the global centres of innovation characterised by the greatest concentration of scientific authors and inventors.

Tokyo–Yokohama in Japan continues to maintain its leading position, with Shenzhen–Hong Kong–Guangzhou in China closely trailing, followed by Seoul in the Republic of Korea.

Among S&T-intensive clusters relative to population density, Cambridge in the United Kingdom and San Jose–San Francisco, CA, in the United States take the top two spots. Oxford in the United Kingdom, Eindhoven in the Netherlands, and Boston–Cambridge, MA, in the United States follow suit. Notably, Munich in Germany has also secured a place in the global top 10 most S&T-intensive clusters.

For the first time, China leads the list of countries with the highest number of clusters among the top 100, boasting a total of 24. The United States comes in second with 21 clusters, followed by Germany with nine.

The Global Innovation Tracker 2023

The Global Innovation Tracker monitors essential patterns in investments related to innovation, gauges the speed of technological advancements and their acceptance, and assesses the consequential socioeconomic outcomes.

It is important to understand how innovation is adapting amid the worldwide turbulence generated by increased inflation, escalating interest rates, and geopolitical tensions in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the latest findings from the Global Innovation Tracker, emerging breakthrough technologies are still offering fresh prospects, yet the societal effects of innovation remain limited.

Key findings from the past year include a mixed performance in science and innovation investment, particularly in light of numerous challenges, and a downturn in innovation financing. While the number of scientific publications continued to rise, the growth rate was slower. Projections indicate an expected real term increase in global government R&D budgets, and major corporate spenders substantially increased their R&D expenditure. However, it remains uncertain whether this can offset the impact of rising inflation. International patent filings stagnated, and venture capital investments experienced a significant decline in value, following the exceptionally high levels seen in previous years, reflecting a deteriorating climate for risk financing.

In the realms of information technology, health, mobility, and energy, significant technological advancements persist, creating fresh opportunities for global development. Computing power remains historically robust, and the costs associated with renewable energy and genome sequencing continue to decrease. A noticeable uptick in technology adoption is gradually expanding access to safe sanitation and connectivity. Electric vehicle adoption is on the rise, and there is a growing demand for increased automation, leading to greater robot installations. However, for most innovation indicators, overall adoption rates still fall in the medium-to-low range, and many countries continue to face insufficient availability of radiotherapy for cancer treatment.

The socioeconomic impact of innovation remains limited. The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted labour productivity, which has currently reached a standstill, and life expectancy has declined for a second consecutive year (although healthy life expectancy is increasing, albeit at a slower pace). Carbon dioxide emissions have continued to grow, albeit at a slower rate than the post-pandemic surge seen in 2021, with no global reductions on the horizon.

The 2023 GII paints a complex picture of the global innovation landscape. In the face of formidable challenges such as the lingering economic effects of COVID-19, alongside growing geopolitical tensions, businesses around the world are now navigating the new innovation landscape in which we find ourselves.