European countries have a huge impact on global innovation

Jess Shanahan
- Leadership - Jan 26, 2016

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has released a new global ranking that looks at how countries’ domestic policies affect global innovation.

Of the 56 countries assessed, those in Europe took eight of the 10 spots in the ranking. ITIF reported that on a per-capita basis Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom were the three countries that did the most to support global innovation and the least to detract from it. Meanwhile, Greece was the 14th-worst, per capita, in its net impact on global innovation and Ukraine was fifth-worst.

Stephen Ezell, ITIF’s Vice President for Global Innovation, said: “Robust innovation is essential for economic growth and progress. As countries increasingly vie for leadership in the innovation economy, they can implement policies that try to benefit only themselves but harm the production of innovation in the rest of the world. Or they can implement ‘win-win’ policies that bolster their own innovation capacity while also generating positive spillovers for the entire global economy. For innovation to flourish around the world, we need a system that is doing much more of the latter.”

Previous research has ranked countries based on innovation capabilities or outcomes but this report is the first to assess the impact of countries’ policies on the broader innovation system. The authors examined 14 factors that not only support innovation domestically but have positive spillover effects globally, such as supportive tax systems and investment in R&D and human capital, and another 13 factors that have negative spillover effects, such as forced localization and weak intellectual property protection.

While six European countries were in the top 10 for their positive contributions to the global innovation ecosystem, the continent’s prominence on the list was driven in particular by holding nine of the top 10 spots for being the least damaging. Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands were all ranked in the top 10 in both categories.

The report also found a strong correlation between countries’ contributions to global innovation and their levels of domestic innovation success, meaning that doing well domestically on innovation policy can also mean doing well for the world.

Read the full report here.

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