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Innovation growing in China, says global ranking

Updated: Jun 19,2017 10:32 AM

After China became the first-ever middle-income country to join the world’s top 25 innovative economies in 2016, the country has made further strides this year, moving even higher up the rankings.

China this year has moved up the Global Innovation Index (GII) by three notches, displaying a strong performance in several indicators, according to the GII rankings released this week.

Ranking 22 on this year’s GII, China continues to be the only middle-income country in the top 25.

A closer look at the index shows that China has moved up one spot to 16th position in terms of innovation quality, retaining its position for the fifth consecutive year as the top middle-income economy and getting closer to high-income economies.

This movement can be attributed to a number of strong indicators, including domestic market scale, a skilled workforce, patents, high-tech exports and industrial designs.

European countries occupy eight of the top 10 places, with Switzerland retaining it's No. 1 position on the GII for the seventh consecutive year. Sweden and the Netherlands follow in second and third place, the latter having leapt from ninth last year.

The United States is fourth in the rankings, followed by the UK and Denmark, while Singapore, Finland, Germany and Ireland make up the rest of the top 10.

The GII rankings also reveal a large gap between high- and middle-income economies when it comes to innovation. Without counting China’s impressive performance, the difference in average scores between these two groups is expanding in many indicators, rather than narrowing.

Overall, the top 10 performed better than the 11-25 group in all seven fields of assessment: institutions, creative output, knowledge and technology output, business sophistication, market sophistication, infrastructure, and human capital and research.

“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 of SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University, one of the organizations behind the GII. “This has been the GII’s purpose for more than ten years now.”

This year’s GII, under a theme of “Innovation Feeding the World”, focuses especially on food and agriculture. It foresees innovation as being the key to sustainable food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management in the next few decades.

The agriculture and food sector is set to face an enormous rise in global demand, amid increased competition for limited natural resources.

“We are already witnessing the rapid, worldwide emergence of ‘digital agriculture,’” Bruno Lanvin, INSTEAD Executive Director for Global Indices, told Xinhua. “Now there is an urgent need for ‘smart agriculture’ to optimize supply and distribution chains and foster creative new business models that minimize pressure on land, energy and other natural resources — while addressing the needs of the world’s poorest.”

Jointly released by the World Intellectual Property Organization, Cornell University and INSTEAD, the 2017 GII is in its 10th edition this year. The rankings are now a leading benchmark for business executives, policy makers and others seeking insight into the state of innovation around the world.