Singapore ranked 6th globally for innovation

Republic moves up a spot from last year; rise driven by performance and changes to survey methodology

Singapore has been ranked sixth in the world - and top in the Asia-Pacific region - on the annual Global Innovation Index.

Singapore's ranking - one up from last year - placed it ahead of countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, South Korea and Japan. The improved ranking was driven not just by its performance but also tweaks to survey methodology, such as the addition of new indicators.

The Global Innovation Index, now in its ninth year, is co-published by Cornell University, business school Insead and the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

This year's index surveyed 128 economies, using 82 indicators to gauge both innovative capabilities and measurable results.

Singapore did well on indicators gauging a country's political and regulatory environment, education system and infrastructure, among others.

However, it came in 78th on innovation efficiency, which measures how much innovation output a country is getting for its inputs.

Singapore also ranked 21st among high-income economies and 22nd overall for innovation quality - measured in terms of the quality of local universities, internationalisation of local inventions and the number of citations that local research documents received abroad.

Its scores for the quality of local universities and patents filed were above the high-income group average. When it came to the number of citations, however, Singapore performed below this average.

The Index report also said innovation policies should more explicitly favour international collaboration and the diffusion of knowledge across borders.

The slowdown in global growth and trade means that innovation is becoming more strategically important globally, said Mr Bruno Lanvin, executive director for global indices at Insead. "On the one hand, more emerging countries are becoming successful innovators, and on the other hand, an increasing share of innovation benefits stem from cross-border cooperation," he said.

The survey found that global research and development expenditure grew 4 per cent in 2014, much slower than the annual rate of about 7 per cent before the financial crisis in 2009. This was a result of slower growth in emerging economies and tighter research and development budgets in high-income economies, and remains "a source of concern", according to the report's authors.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2016, with the headline Singapore ranked 6th globally for innovation. Subscribe