4iP News

Launch of the Global Innovation Index 2015

19 September 2015

Eight of the top ten countries are European

Thursday, September 17 saw the publication of the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2015, released jointly by the World Intellectual Property Organization, Cornell University and INSEAD and now in its ninth year.

At the launch event in Westminster Central Hall, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, the UK’s Minister for Intellectual Property, welcomed the GII’s creators to London. She shared her belief that the UK’s continued ranking at #2 resulted at least in part from the UK’s continuing investment in ideas and knowledge, which now outstrip its investment in bricks and mortar. She added that more than half of that investment in ideas is also protected by intellectual property rights.

Frances Gurry, Director General of WIPO, reminded the audience that intellectual property captures the competitive advantage conferred by innovation and then introduced Bruno Lanvin, Executive Director for Global Indices at INSEAD to share some of the methodology and results from the GII.

Dr Lanvin explained that the GII was based on 79 different metrics, covering both inputs to and outputs from innovation at a national level, across 141 countries, independently audited. Significantly for 4iP Council’s members and followers, eight of the top ten countries in the GII are European with Switzerland, UK and Sweden respectively ranking first, second and third. He noted that, though there is a strong correlation between national wealth and innovation, there is significant development in the low to middle income countries this year.

Despite the GII’s theme for 2015 of ‘Effective Innovation Policies for Development’, Bruno warned that “a mindset of innovation cannot be created by decree,” a thought which was reinforced by other speakers.

Fahad Al Hussawi, Chief Commercial Officer of du, one of the GII’s Knowledge Partners, reflected that we have moved from a world of unshared certainties to one of shared uncertainties as we work to build the infrastructure for future economic growth.

And Johan Aurik, Managing Partner and Chairman of the Board of A.T. Kearney, another Knowledge Partner, commented that this year’s index is really the result of yesterday’s actions, counselling the top countries to avoid resting on their laurels and to look beneath the headlines of the report and observe the rise of innovation in emerging economies, something that he believed most investors had not yet recognised.

A panel discussion followed, on the topic of ‘empowering the innovation economy for growth and development.’ Angela Kukula, Chair of PraxisUnico and Director of Enterprise at the UK’s Institute of Cancer Research, said that there should be no surprise that the top five countries all have world class universities and research centres working closely with industry, but that one of the major challenges is still to connect the grass roots research with small and medium enterprises.

Simon Edmonds, Director of Catapult Programmes at Innovate UK discussed how the UK Government is helping to stimulate innovation at business level, through ten Catapult Centres. He shared how the allocation of funding has shifted away from supporting larger enterprises, with more than 60 per cent of Innovate UK’s funds now going to support start-ups.

Cristina Chaminade, Professor of Innovation Studies, CIRCLE at Lund University in Sweden, commented on the challenges in enabling innovation in low and middle income countries, where as many as 70 per cent of companies are in the informal sector and she called for innovation policies that are comprehensive, evidence-based, long term and aligned, both to development goals and with other policies.

Julius Ecuru, Assistant Executive Secretary for the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology, suggested that there is a need to have a broad mix of policies to foster innovation and growth and to make investments to nurture those. In his view, in emerging economies, governments have to play an enhanced role in investment as the private sector is less able to do so.

The panellists all agreed that IP had a vital role to play in powering innovation. Professor Chaminade noted that in Sweden, university researchers own the IP for their inventions and are free to explore opportunities to commercialise it, which she felt was one reason for Sweden’s high ranking on the index. Simon Edmonds added that, though the Catapult Programmes do encourage open innovation, they also appreciate the need for protection of ideas in many cases. Finally, Julius Ecuru commented that in many emerging countries the legal framework for protection already exists, though the universities and commercial organisations may yet need to establish their own processes to manage intellectual property.

In all, the Global Innovation Index 2015 provides a useful snapshot of the relative standings of most of the countries around the world in innovation. Though it has a positive story for Europe, companies and authorities in those countries cannot be complacent and should continue to use the GII as a tool for further planning. The full report can be downloaded from www.globalinnovationindex.org