S'pore maintains position as Asia's most innovative country

The Global Innovation Index ranked Singapore fifth - two spots higher than last year - and once again the top in Asia. PHOTO: AFP

Singapore is the most innovative country in the world outside Europe, according to an index out yesterday.

The Global Innovation Index ranked the country fifth - two spots higher than last year - and once again the top in Asia. The overall league table put Switzerland first followed by the Netherlands, Sweden and Britain. The United States, Finland, Denmark, Germany and Ireland rounded off the top 10.

South Korea was 12th and Japan 13th in the annual ranking compiled by Cornell University, French business school Insead and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo). They measured countries based on 80 indicators, from intellectual property filing rates and mobile-application creation, to education spending and scientific and technical publications.

Singapore remained in first place globally for government effectiveness, regulatory quality and foreign direct investment outflows.

It was also a top performer for political stability and safety, market capitalisation, foreign direct investment inflows, high-and medium-high-tech manufacturing and high-tech net exports.

But the report noted that Singapore was relatively weak when it came to expenditure on education, pupil-teacher ratios, environmental performance, productivity growth, and trademarks and industrial designs by origin.

Mr Daren Tang, chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, said in a statement: "Innovation is becoming a driving force in our economy and globally.

"Being ranked fifth in a credible global study gives greater impetus for our enterprises and entrepreneurs to keep using innovation and leveraging their intangible assets to grow from Singapore to the world." CIMB Private Bank economist Song Seng Wun said: "Singapore, as a small economy, is already trying to up its game to drive growth. The strong showing in ranking tables like these could help Singapore continue to attract talent and resources."

The US slipped from fourth last year to sixth, due in part to a fall in its gross capital formation score and unavailability of data this year for tertiary enrolment.

In absolute terms, the US remains the top contributor in key innovation inputs and outputs, including in investment in research and development, according to the study. Meanwhile, China advanced to 17th from 22nd last year.

Wipo director general Francis Gurry said: "China's rapid rise reflects a strategic direction set from the top leadership to developing world-class capacity in innovation, and to moving the structural basis of the economy to more knowledge-intensive industries that rely on innovation to maintain competitive advantage."

The index compilers also noted that some middle-and lower-income economies, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, continue to move up the ranking in terms of innovation and "perform significantly better on innovation than their level of development would predict".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2018, with the headline S'pore maintains position as Asia's most innovative country. Subscribe