China Ranks 14th in Global Innovation Index, Only Middle-Income Economy in Top 30

China kept its 14th place in the top-performing economies in the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2020, after breaking into the GII top 15 last year, a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) report showed. 

According to the report released Wednesday, China also remains the only middle-income economy to make it into the top 30. In the upper middle-income group, China is ranked the No.1 innovation economy, followed by Asia’s Malaysia and Europe’s Bulgaria.

China’s ranks also moved up in human capital and research (21st, up by 4) and market sophistication (19th, up by 2). The report said that China maintains its world leadership in several key output indicators, including patents by origin, utility models, trademarks, industrial designs, and creative goods exports.

Switzerland, Sweden, and the US lead the innovation rankings, followed by the UK and the Netherlands. This year marks the first time for a second Asian economy—the Republic of Korea—to crack the top 10, two spots below Singapore.

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When it comes to the world’s top-performing cluster, Japan’s Tokyo-Yokohama placed first, followed by China’s Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou, South Korea’s Seoul, China’s capital Beijing, and San Jose-San Francisco in the US. 

This year, the geography of innovation is continuing to shift, according to the report. “Over the years, China, Vietnam, India, and the Philippines are the economies with the most significant progress in their GII innovation ranking over time. All four are now in the top 50.”

As the world is struggling with the economic and social implications of the COVID-19 crisis, innovation is humanity’s best hope to overcome the economic lockdown, the report said. 

Fundamentally, the pandemic has not changed the fact that the potential for breakthrough technologies and innovation continues to abound, the report said. 

However, the amplitude of the crisis created by COVID-19 has engulfed many countries in a wave of emergencies. “In the years to come, financial resources will be strained. Risk aversion will be high. As a result, countries and corporations alike will find it harder to pursue investments and innovation.”

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“The question regarding how the current pandemic will affect these innovation divides looms large,” the report said. “With a possible disintegration of global value chains, generally reduced trade, an economic slowdown, and increased debt, there is a real possibility that the little progress in terms of innovation convergence over the recent years might grind to a halt or even reverse.”

The GII provides detailed metrics about the innovation performance of 131 countries and economies around the world. Its 80 indicators explore a broad vision of innovation, including political environment, education, infrastructure and business sophistication.

The theme of this year’s report is “Who Will Finance Innovation?” which is timely and relevant in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The GII 2020 is the result of a collaboration between Cornell University, INSEAD, and the WIPO as co-publishers, and their knowledge partners.