Singapore is the most innovative country in Asia Pacific, says Global Innovation Index

Author: PM editorial | Date: 31 Aug 2016

Best in the world for business sophistication and the stability of its political institutions

Singapore is the most innovative country in Asia and the sixth most innovative in the world, according to the pre-eminent study into the topic.

The city-state moved up one place from 2015 in the annual Global Innovation Index (GII) study carried out by Cornell University, the international business school INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

Among the other Asian nations that scored highly, South Korea was ranked 11th, Hong Kong 14th and China 25th. China’s rise through the ranks represented the first time since the report began nine years ago that a ‘middle-income’ country has joined the ‘highly developed’ countries that have dominated the top of the GII.

“Singapore’s innovation system has been characterised by a strong openness to foreign investments, ideas, and talent,” said Lim Chuan Poh, in a foreword to the report. “As a small, resource-constrained economy since its independence, Singapore recognised that it needed to tap into globalization to survive.

“In just 50 years, Singapore has transformed itself from a developing economy with few natural resources to a thriving global metropolis. Its gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has risen from US$516 in 1965 to US$52,888 in 2015.”

Countries in the study were given scores based on seven categories: institutions; human capital and research; infrastructure; market sophistication; business sophistication; knowledge and technology outputs; and creative outputs. Each category then had a number of subcategories.

Singapore was ranked number one in the world for the stability of its political institutions, the effectiveness of its regulatory environment and its business sophistication (the quality of a country’s business networks and the quality of individual organisation’s operations and strategies).

The only category where it was not ranked in the top 10 was ‘creative outputs’, which measures areas such as intangible assets and trademarks originating from a country.

The impact of Singapore’s R&D investments was praised for the number of high-value jobs it has created; 32,835 research scientist and engineer (RSE) roles in 2014, a growth of six per cent over the last 10 years.

“Arguably, everyone stands to gain from global innovation. More resources are now spent on innovation and related factors globally than at any other given point in human history,” said the report.