1 July 2017

Asia shines in global indices on talent, innovation

India and Vietnam are outperforming their development-level peers, according to the Global Innovation Index 2017* (GII) co-authored by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Key findings show the rise of India as an emerging innovation centre in Asia.
Each year, the GII surveys some 130 economies using dozens of metrics, from patent filings to education spending providing decision makers a high-level look at the innovative activity that increasingly drives economic and social growth. In a new feature for the GII, a special section looks at “invention hotspots” around the globe that show the highest density of inventors listed in international patent applications.

Now in its 10th edition, the GII 2017 notes a continued gap in innovative capacity between developed and developing nations and lacklustre growth rates for research and development (R&D) activities, both at 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. “Innovation can help transform the current economic upswing into longer-term growth.”

Global rankings 2017, with 2016 rankings in brackets
Switzerland (No. 1 in 2016)
Japan (16)
Sweden (2)
France (18)
Netherlands (9)
Hong Kong (14)
US (4)
Israel (21)
UK (3)
Canada (15)
Denmark (8)
Norway (22)
Singapore (6)
Austria (20)
Finland (5)
New Zealand (17)
Germany (10)
Mainland China (25)
Ireland (7)
Australia (19)
Korea (11)
Czech Republic (27)
Luxembourg (12)
Estonia (24)
Iceland (13)

In 2017, high-income economies took 24 of the top 25 spots, China being the exception at No. 22. In 2016, China became the first-ever middle income economy in the top 25. 
Efforts to bridge the innovation divide have to start with helping emerging economies understand their innovation strengths and weaknesses and create appropriate policies and metrics,” said Soumitra Dutta, Dean, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University. “This has been the GII’s purpose for more than ten years now.”

A group of middle and lower-income economies performed significantly better on innovation than their current level of development would predict: a total of 17 economies comprise these ‘innovation achievers’ this year, a slight increase from 2016. Next to innovation powerhouses such as mainland China, Japan, and Korea, a group of Asian economies including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam are actively working to improve their innovation ecosystems and rank high in a number of important indicators related to education, research and development (R&D), productivity growth, high-tech exports, among others.  

The theme of the GII 2017, Innovation Feeding the World, looks at innovation carried out in agriculture and food systems. Over the next decades, the agriculture and food sector will face an enormous rise in global demand and increased competition for limited natural resources. In addition, it will need to adapt to and help mitigate climate change. Innovation is key to sustaining the productivity growth required to meet this rising demand and to helping enhance the networks that integrate the sustainable food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management known as food systems.

We are already witnessing the rapid, worldwide emergence of ‘digital agriculture,’ which includes drones, satellite-based sensors and field robotics,” said Bruno Lanvin, INSEAD Executive Director for Global Indices. “Now there is an urgent need for ‘smart agriculture’ to optimise supply and distribution chains and foster creative new business models that minimise pressure on land, energy and other natural resources - while addressing the needs of the world’s poorest.”

By 2050, the world’s population is estimated to reach 9.7 billion. This presents the global agricultural sector with a daunting challenge. The stage has been set for a potential global food crisis if policy makers and other stakeholders fail to implement agricultural innovation that significantly boosts productivity,” said Barry Jaruzelski, Principal at Strategy&, PwC's strategy consulting business.

Korea maintains its top overall rankings in patenting and other intellectual property (IP)-related indicators, while ranking second in human capital and research, with its business sector contributing significantly to R&D efforts. Japan, ranked third in the region, is in the top 10 global economies for R&D, information and communication technologies, trade, competition, market scale, knowledge absorption, creation, and diffusion.

China continues moving ahead in the overall GII ranking (22nd overall this year), reflecting high scores in business sophistication and knowledge and technology outputs. China this year displays a strong performance in several indicators, including the presence of global R&D companies, research talent in business enterprise, patent applications and other IPrelated variables.

Within the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN): 
  • Singapore is the top performer in most of the indicators, with a few notable exceptions: ICT services exports, where the Philippines leads, and expenditure on education, where Vietnam leads. 
  • Thailand’s strengths include creative goods exports and gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) financed by business, where it places 5th and 6th globally. 
  • Vietnam shows the second best rank of the region in expenditure on education and also performs well in labour productivity growth, economy-wide investment, and foreign direct investment net inflows. 
  • Malaysia ranks well in high-tech imports and exports, university/industry research collaboration, and graduates in science and engineering.
By subregion, India, 60th globally, is the top-ranked economy in Central and Southern Asia. It has outperformed on innovation relative to its GDP per capita for seven years in a row, researchers note. India has shown improvement in most areas, including in infrastructure, business sophistication, knowledge and technology and creative outputs. India ranks 14th overall in the presence of global R&D companies, considerably better than comparable groups of lower- and upper-middle-income economies. India also surpasses most other middle-income economies in science and engineering graduates, gross capital formation, GERD performed by business, research talent, on the input side; quality of scientific publications, growth rate of GDP per worker, high-tech and ICT services exports, creative goods exports, high-tech manufactures, and IP receipts on the output side.

Public policy plays a pivotal role in creating an enabling environment conducive to innovation. In the last two years, we have seen important activities around the GII in India like the formation of India’s high-level Task Force on Innovation and consultative exercises on both innovation policy and better innovation metrics,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry.

Iran (75th overall) excels in tertiary education, ranking second in the world in number of graduates in science and engineering. Tajikistan (94th) is first in the world in microfinance loans, while Kazakhstan (78th) ranks first globally in pupil‐teacher ratio and third in ease of protecting minority investors.

Third in the Northern Africa and Western Asia region is the UAE (35th globally), benefiting from increased data availability and shows strengths in tertiary inbound mobility, innovation clusters and ICT-driven business model innovation. Sixteen of the 19 economies in the Northern Africa and Western Asia region are in the top 100 globally, including Turkey (43rd), Qatar (49th), KSA (55th), Kuwait (56th), Bahrain (66th), Oman (77th), Lebanon (81st), Azerbaijan (82nd), and Jordan (83rd).

The GII, in its 10th edition this year, is co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialised agency of the United Nations. Published annually since 2007, the GII is now a leading benchmarking tool for business executives, policy makers and others seeking insight into the state of innovation around the world. Policymakers, business leaders and other stakeholders use the GII to evaluate progress on a continual basis.

The core of the GII report consists of a ranking of world economies’ innovation capabilities and results. Recognising the key role of innovation as a driver of economic growth and prosperity, and the need for a broad horizontal vision of innovation applicable to developed and emerging economies, the GII includes indicators that go beyond the traditional measures of innovation such as the level of research and development.

In April, INSEAD separately announced that Singapore had been ranked No. 1 in Asia Pacific and No. 2 globally according to the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) 2017. 

Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2017 
Rankings: Top Ten

1 Switzerland

2 Singapore

3 UK

4 US

5 Sweden

6 Australia

7 Luxembourg

8 Denmark

9 Finland

10 Norway

Singapore is ranked second globally for the fourth consecutive year, retaining its top spot in Asia Pacific. Australia (6th), New Zealand (14th), Japan (22nd), Malaysia (28th) and South Korea (29th), ranked within the Top 30 globally.

Produced in partnership with The Adecco Group and the Human Capital Leadership Institute of Singapore (HCLI), the GTCI is an annual benchmarking report that measures the ability of countries to compete for talent. Focusing on Talent and Technology, the 2017 report explores the effects of technological change on talent competitiveness and the future of work, arguing that while jobs at all levels continue to be replaced by machines, technology is also creating new opportunities.

In Asia Pacific, the countries that ranked within the Top 30 globally included:

-          Singapore (2nd)

-          Australia (6th)

-          New Zealand (14th)

-          Japan (22nd)

-          Malaysia (28th)

-          South Korea (29th)

-          Philippines (52nd)

-          Kazakhstan (53rd)

-          China (54th)

-          Thailand (73rd)

-          Sri Lanka (82nd)

-          Kyrgyzstan (87th)

-          Mongolia (72nd)

-          Vietnam (86th)

-          Indonesia (90th)

-          India (92nd)

-          Bhutan (98th)

-          Iran (103rd)

-          Cambodia (108th)

-          Pakistan (111th)

-          Bangladesh (113rd)

The GTCI is an annual study measuring the ability of countries to compete for talent. Designed for governments, businesses and non-profit organisations, the GTCI ranks over 100 economies according to their ability to develop, attract and retain talent.

High-ranking countries share key traits, including educational systems that meet the needs of the economy; employment policies that favour flexibility, mobility and entrepreneurship; and high connectedness of stakeholders in business, education and government as well as high level of technological competence, INSEAD said.

Ilian Mihov, Dean of INSEAD, said: “This year’s GTCI report shows that countries in the Asia Pacific region demonstrate strong talent readiness for technology. It also highlights the important role of education. Educational systems have to revamp to help learners foster learning agility and adjust on the fly of changing conditions. INSEAD looks forward to fully playing its role as a leading global provider of talent and leadership.”

Singapore has shown outstanding performance in the Enable, Attract and Global Knowledge pillars. Countries can learn from Singapore’s well-developed regulatory and market landscapes for global talent to thrive and its ability to anticipate the movements of the economy.

Su-Yen Wong, CEO of Human Capital Leadership Institute, commented: “The recent report published by Singapore’s Committee on the Future Economy suggested that building strong digital capabilities is one of the key strategies that will propel Singapore’s growth for the next two decades. Digital technologies will help small and exposed economies like Singapore punch above their weight by creating means for their businesses and talent to reach out to the global market. Countries must continue to upskill their workforce so that they can adapt to the digitisation wave and the sweeping structural changes that are poised to shakeup traditional work arrangements.”

Asia’s giants China (54th) and India (92nd) are still a fair distance away from the top. Bruno Lanvin, Executive Director of Global Indices at INSEAD and co-editor of the report said: “Overall, a big challenge for China and India lies in their ability to attract talent, and they both face the issue of local higher-skilled workers leaving to live and work abroad. To improve their attractiveness, the countries can further boost their regulatory and market landscapes.

“However, delving deeper and looking at the city-level, the two countries have metropolises exemplary in terms of their talent attractiveness. Shanghai and Mumbai (apart from Singapore) are the only Asian cities identified and ranked in the inaugural edition of the Global Cities Talent Competitiveness Index (GCTCI), but future editions will undoubtedly include more, confirming the growing attractiveness of Asian cities.”

Australia (6th) performed exceptionally being ranked in the Top 10 this year, as it is one of the top countries in the Attract and Global Knowledge Skills pillars. However, Vocational and Technical Skills show room for improvement. This may indicate that the country’s structural shift towards knowledge jobs and services is perhaps leaving gaps in the technical/vocational area.

Christophe Duchatellier, Regional Head of Asia Pacific, The Adecco Group, commented, “Although Singapore, Australia and New Zealand all feature in the Top 20 of this edition of the Global Talent Competitiveness Index, these latest findings highlight the increasing challenges that many countries in the Asia Pacific region have in attracting and retaining talent. In 2017 we are already observing organisations across the region placing an increased emphasis on world-class talent attraction strategies and tactics that will support them in remaining competitive. We would expect to see more organisations offering internship and apprenticeship programmes to foster skills development.”

Malaysia (28th) is the top-ranked country in the group of upper-middle-income countries. The country ranks above higher-income countries such as South Korea (29th).

Paul Evans, The Shell Chair Professor of Human Resources and Organisational Development, Emeritus, at INSEAD, and Academic Director and co-editor of the Global Talent Competitiveness Index said: “Malaysia performs particularly well in the pillars of the Enabling context and Vocational and Technical Skills. It also does well on External Openness as it has been able to attract talent from overseas. In addition, in terms of talent readiness for technology, Malaysia ranks higher than South Korea even though the IT infrastructure of the latter is much superior. The country can boost its rankings if it further improves in Internal Openness in terms of tolerance of minorities.”

Japan (22nd) has a solid overall performance, although it dipped slightly from last year. One of its main challenges is the Attract pillar where it is far behind the top three countries of this region. Middle-income countries such as Malaysia attract more foreign talent.

Although South Korea (29th) makes it into the top 30 this year, it is the lowest-ranking high-income country in the region. Despite being the top country in dimensions such as Tertiary enrollment and the Market Landscape—with world-class R&D in­vestments—the country has major room for improvement in the Attract pillar.

The Philippines (52nd) is the top lower-middle-income country, ranking above several upper-middle-income countries such as China (54th), and even above some high-income countries such as Kuwait (57th) and Oman (59th). Its greatest strength is its good pool of both Vocational and Technical Skills and Global Knowl­edge Skills.


Download the Global Innovation Index 2017 report

Read the Global Talent Competitiveness Index report

Download the GTCI 2017 Infographic at this link

Watch the GTCI 2017 Video graphic at this link

The Asia infographic is also attached for media usage.

*To support the global innovation debate, to guide polices and to highlight good practices, metrics are required to assess innovation and related policy performance. The GII creates an environment in which innovation factors are under continual evaluation, including the following features:

• 127 country/economy profiles, including data, ranks, and strengths and weaknesses

• 81 data tables for indicators from over 30 international public and private sources, of which 57 are hard data, 19 composite indicators, and five survey questions

• A transparent and replicable computation methodology including 90% confidence intervals for each index ranking (GII, output and input sub-indices) and an analysis of factors affecting year-on-year changes in rankings

The GII 2017 is calculated as the average of two sub-indices. The Innovation Input Sub-Index gauges elements of the national economy which embody innovative activities grouped in five pillars:
  • Institutions, 
  • Human capital and research, 
  • Infrastructure, 
  • Market sophistication, and 
  • Business sophistication. 
The Innovation Output Sub-Index captures actual evidence of innovation results, divided in two pillars: knowledge and technology outputs andcreative outputs.

The index is submitted to an independent statistical audit by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.

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