Switzerland Ranked World’s Most Innovative Nation

Date: 01-07-2011
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Switzerland is the world’s most innovative country and Europe leads the globe according to a report by the French business school Insead.

The world’s 20 most innovative countries


Their annual Global Innovation Index, published today, shows that more than half of the top 10 and top 20 countries in the world are European, although predominantly drawn from the north of the continent.

According to Soumitra Dutta, professor of business and technology at the Paris-based school, the report measures two things; the capacity of a country to innovate, so looking at things like education and infrastructure, and the outputs of the economy in terms of scientific and creative output.

“At a high level the model captures the success of an economy at creating the conditions that support innovation and in actually translating those conditions into outputs of innovation,” he said.

He refuted suggestions that Switzerland was somehow wrongly placed. “Many people think of Switzerland as only having banks and they don’t do anything else. However if you look at patents on a per GDP basis, it is ranked number one in the world.”

Looking across Europe, Prof. Dutta said the report showed a worrying two-track course. While northern Europe was successful globally, southern and eastern was not doing well. The highest placed eastern European country is Estonia, at 23, ahead of Spain (32), the highest placed southern European country.

According to Gary Nugent, head of corporate marketing & marketing services at Alcatel-Lucent, one of the report’s sponsors, emerging nations such as China (29), Brazil(47) and India (62) showed a high efficiency in their economies to innovate and were moving up the tables as their economies develop.

“What you see is the extent to which the developing countries have very high efficiency scores which means they really are generating a substantial amount of scientific and creative output from an environment which is not the most heavily invested or mature. That implies that if they are able to maintain that degree of productivity that will have a gearing effect.”

Prof. Dutta said there were a number of conclusions to be drawn.

1.      Innovation is happening globally. It is not a question of it only happening in rich economies. So you need a global strategy for innovation.
2.      Emerging markets are really starting to shine, so we have to be able to understand better how to leverage the innovation potential of these economies.
3.      Countries have to look at their innovation efficiencies. Even those countries that are highly placed on the input score, they have to ask themselves why they are not able to translate that as effectively as they could.
4.      You see a need for multi-stakeholder action. You need to see the need to work on multiple dimensions, such as education, regulation, the markets so different parts of the market have to come together to improve innovation.

And as for Switzerland. It appears that Orson Welles famous line in the seminal “The Third Man” may no longer be fair.

“You know what the fellow said–in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance.

In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace–and what did that produce?

The cuckoo clock.



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