GII 2018: Energizing the world with innovation

Author:Catherine Jewell
Position:Communications Division, WIPO

The focus of the Global Innovation Index 2018 is Energizing the World with Innovation. The GII, now in its 11th edition, benchmarks the innovation performance of 126 countries, offering policymakers a snapshot of the strengths and weaknesses of national innovation ecosystems. Sacha Wunsch-Vincent, a senior economist at WIPO and one of the co-editors of the GII 2018, discusses some of the key... (see full summary)


What are the key findings of the 2018 edition of the GII?

This year, the global economic outlook is rather optimistic, both in terms of growth and innovation. In most economies today, investment in research and development (R&D) and innovation are priority areas. Global R&D spending, which more than doubled between 1996 and 2006, continues to rise. And the private sector is playing an increasingly important role in the global R&D investment landscape, with global business R&D spending rising by 4.2 percent in 2016.

However, there is still a clear need for policymakers to focus on implementing pro-innovation policies to sustain this momentum and boost the economic performance of low-and middle-income economies. China’s achievements in strengthening its innovation ecosystem and remarkable rise in the GII rankings – ranked 17 this year – is an interesting example for other middle-income countries to follow.

While the innovation gap between high-income economies and the rest of the world remains wide, and marked regional imbalances in innovation performance persist, many countries are progressing. For example, GII 2018 identifies 20 so-called “innovation achievers,” whose innovation performance surpasses their level of development. Colombia, South Africa and Tunisia join this group for the first time.

GII 2018 also confirms that wealthier countries with more diversified and export-oriented economies tend to achieve a higher score in innovation rankings, both in terms of the quality and volume of innovation outputs. In a similar vein, we see the greatest concentration of science and technology clusters in the United States (26 clusters), China (16 clusters) and Germany (8).

The GII also underlines the need for breakthrough innovations in the energy sector, particularly in light of climate change-related targets and projected increases in energy demand.

Beyond the rankings, what is the focus of this year’s GII?

In GII 2018, WIPO and its partners explore how innovation is contributing to solving the global energy challenge and how different countries are tackling it. By 2040, the world’s energy requirements will increase by 30 percent, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Traditional fossil fuel-based energy systems are unsustainable. Only by fostering innovation will it be possible to develop the types of clean energy systems required for the future.

How would you characterize the current global energy landscape?

The global consensus emerging from international initiatives like the Paris Climate Accord of 2015 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 7) has added impetus...

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