Since 2008, Cornell University, INSEAD business school, and the World Intellectual Property Organization have released the annual Global Innovation Index.
It’s essentially a ranking of the most innovative countries in the world.
This year’s winners are no strangers to the top of the list, dominating in seven general categories: research, infrastructure, institutions, market and business sophistication, and a commitment to knowledge and creativity.
The most innovative countries teach creatively, enforce progressive laws, do business intelligently, and live on the cutting edge.
The country has been number one since 2011 because of its knowledge-based economy and ability to turn innovative thinking into lucrative projects. For example, local bank UBS is now using virtual reality to project investment portfolios to its clients.
Well-designed universities and high-achieving graduates have kept Sweden in the top three for the last six years.
With a high volume of patents filed, the Netherlands leads the survey’s business sophistication rankings. The country also falls near the top in the categories of knowledge and technology outputs, which include things like inventions and trademarks.
4. United States
The US held steady in its fourth-place ranking since 2016, most notably due to the strength of its global-facing markets, the value of its stock trades, and its widespread implementation of internet technology.
5. United Kingdom
The UK’s success in infrastructure, such as the London Crossrail, buoy it near the top. But the country has lower scores in education and productivity.
Denmark leads for its efficient system of government, large quantity of researchers, and quality of education. It’s moved up two spots since 2016.
One of the most consistently highly ranked countries, Singapore stands out for its political environment and ecological sustainability.
Though it hovered in the top five for the last several years, Finland has fallen slightly this year due to declining rankings in technology and research. It still ranks first overall in education, though.
The country ranks at the top of the list’s measurement of patent creation, and has strong technology output, especially in automobile technology.
Down three places in the ranking since 2016, Ireland is still recognized for its infrastructure and creative outputs, like its thriving design culture.
11. Republic of Korea
According to the Index, South Korea’s greatest asset is its education sector. The country has also seen tremendous growth in research and development.
The tiny country’s latest ranking comes from high scores in creative outputs, such as feature films and printed books.
As the country bounces back from financial woes, it’s making storage of the world’s internet data its primary goal. Iceland has been ranked 13th three years in a row.
Known for its manufacturing and technology sector, Japan ranks highest in infrastructure and patent filings. Last year it missed cracking the top 15 by one place.
Up three places from 2016, France’s greatest strengths lie in the market sophistication category, specifically with venture capital deals, the report finds. It also places near the top in research and development.
16. Hong Kong
The region has dipped nine spots since 2013 and is falling every year, due mostly to waning patent filings and education scores. However, the report finds Hong Kong still plays a major a role in the global economy, particularly because of its infrastructure and how robust its market has become due to investment and trade opportunities.