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WIPO index Swiss remain top of world innovation ranking

The former site of the Dubendorf airfield near Zurich is being transformed into an innovation park that will stretch over 38 hectares

(Zurich Innovation Park)

Switzerland is the leading nation for innovation for the seventh year in a row, according to the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). 

The other countries in the top five for 2017 were Sweden, the Netherlands, the United States and Britain, the WIPO Global Innovation Indexexternal link said on Thursday. Switzerland has held the top spot since 2011. 

"Switzerland is the gold medallist once again, and that's seven years running, so that's quite an outstanding performance," WIPO director-general Francis Gurry told a press conference in Geneva.

Switzerland came top in the report, which used 81 indicators to analyse 130 economies, for “innovation outputs” (knowledge, technology and creativity) and third overall for “innovation inputs” (human capital and research, infrastructure, market sophistication and business sophistication). 

“With its favourable business environment and solid innovation capabilities, Switzerland remains highly successful in transforming its resources into more numerous and more varied innovation outputs,” the report authors said. 

Switzerland scored particularly highly for the number of patents filed. In 2016, it filed the most patent applications per head to the European Patent Office.

However, the report said Switzerland had several weak areas such as the ease of starting a new business, the number of graduates in science and engineering, the ease of getting credit, and the growth rate of gross domestic product (GDP) per worker. 

Elsewhere, countries such as India, Kenya, and Vietnam were outperforming their “development-level” peers, the report added. Sub-Saharan Africa was also performing well, while Latin America and the Caribbean showed room for improvement. 

High-income economies hold 24 of the top 25 places in the global innovation ranking. In 2016, China became the first middle-income economy to join the top 25. 

The 2017 report notes a continued gap in innovative capacity between developed and developing nations and poor growth rates for research and development activities, at both the government and corporate levels. 

“Innovation is the engine of economic growth in an increasingly knowledge-based global economy, but more investment is needed to help boost human creativity and economic output,” said WIPO director-general Francis Gurry in a statement. 

“Innovation can help transform the current economic upswing into longer-term growth.” 

The index is jointly published by WIPO, Cornell University in the United States and the INSEAD Business School in France.

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