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Switzerland Still Considered Most Innovative

The 2013 Global Innovation Index looks very similar to last year’s, but its ranking of the most efficient innovators features several new names.

What makes a nation innovative? A series of factors that probably do not change much from year to year.

Switzerland remained the most innovative nation in the world in the 2013 Global Innovation Index, the sixth edition of an annual report published by the World Intellectual Property Organization, the French business school INSEAD, and Cornell University. In fact, all of the top 25 countries on the list were in the top 25 last year, too.

The index ranks 142 world economies using 84 indicators seen as reflecting “innovation capabilities,” as well as actual innovation. To gauge a country’s capacity for invention, the authors consider variables like political stability, the availability of education, and regulatory environment. To measure output, they counted things like new patents, exports, and scientific and technical journal articles.

As we’ve noted before (see “The Innovation Efficiency Index”), a subset of this annual report produces a more surprising set of countries because it tries to weigh innovation output per input to determine which countries get the most out of suboptimal environments. Last year’s most efficient innovator, China, fell to 14th this year and was replaced by Mali, which joined Guinea, Swaziland, Indonesia, Nigeria, Kuwait, Costa Rica, and Venezuela as new entrants to the top 10.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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