NationalVolume 14 Issue # 04

Pakistan ranks among the world’s least innovative countries

The Global Innovation Index (GII), an annual ranking of countries, is published by Cornell University and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), which is one of the 15 specialised agencies of the United Nations. The GII ranks countries according to their innovative endeavours and achievements in various sectors of life.

The WIPO was created in 1967, to encourage creative activity and to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world in partnership with other organisations and institutions. GII is based on both subjective and objective data from several sources, including the International Telecommunication Union — a specialised agency of the UN, the World Bank and World Economic Forum. The GII is commonly used by government officials to compare countries by their level of innovation.

There is another internationally recognized innovation index which is published by Bloomberg, the world’s leading economic and commercial news site. The 2018 Bloomberg Innovation Index, which scores economies using factors like research and development spending and concentration of high-tech public companies, awards the highest ranking to South Korea which is said to rule the world of ideas. Bloomberg’s ranking of the world’s 50 most innovative countries focuses on six tangible activities that contribute to innovation. Bloomberg’s initial ranking began with over 200 economies, from which those that didn’t report data for at least six of seven categories measured were eliminated, trimming the list to 84.


The key findings of GII 2018 comprises some crucial insights into how innovation is driving rapid progress in countries which focus on research and development. The ranking shows that becoming more active in global innovations and growth makes it possible for countries to come out of the cycle of poverty and backwardness. The current challenge for the global economy is to reach a comfortable common rate which can be sustained for the next several years. Meanwhile, the global spectrum of investment in science and technology as well as in education and human capital has witnessed important positive shifts over the last three decades. However under-developed countries must harness serious policies for innovation, research and development.

Secondly, the report emphasised the role of continuous investments in energy innovation for global growth. Compelling projections indicate that by 2040, the world will require upto 30 percent more energy than it needs today. Innovation plays a vital role in meeting the global energy demands. Various energy innovation systems need to collaborate in taking wise steps for energy storage and distribution. Moreover, the report found that public policy plays a central role in driving the energy transition.

Amongst high-income countries, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Hungary stand out for their high level of productivity and output. Among upper-middle-income countries, China strongly overperforms in the said efficiency relationship, whereas Malaysia slightly underperforms. Among lower-middle economies, Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, and Vietnam stand out as performing better than would be expected by their levels of inputs. Among the middle-income group, the top five remain steady with China, India, and the Russian Federation at the top, followed by Brazil and Argentina. Mexico and Malaysia are advancing the most in this group.

Furthermore, the rankings reveal that focusing on translating investments into results is the key to forward movement. How can a country translate investment in education, qualified researchers and research and development into high quality and innovative outputs? Most economies maintain a linear relationship between input and output; however some economies are prone to under-delivering on their investments.

The report also stressed the fact that regional interconnectivity is crucial for both the preservation and acceleration of economic and human development. Based on performance, the most prosperous regions are Northern America, Europe, South East Asia, East Asia and Oceania followed by Northern Africa and Western Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Ranking sixth is Central and Southern Asia and lastly Sub-Saharan Africa. The best science and technology clusters are in the US, China and Germany. While Brazil, India and Iran all made the top one hundred list.

According to the GII 2018 report, Pakistan ranked 109 out of 126 countries. In 2017 its ranking was 113.  Despite some improvements, Pakistan remains one of the least innovative countries in the world. Such a low ranking is largely due to political uncertainty and rampant corruption, which has created a discouraging environment for business and handicapped our institutions’ capacity to deliver. The GII 2018 chart for Pakistan has also shown the average score and rank for institutions, human capital, research, infrastructure, market sophistication, business sophistication, knowledge and technology. In each category Pakistan’s score is dismally low.

If Pakistan wants to improve its ranking in the coming years, it will need to invest more in science and research and redouble its efforts to eliminate corruption and the menace of terrorism. Equally important is to ensure political stability and sound economic planning. The nation pins its hope on the new PTI government to do the needful. Naya Pakistan should be an innovative Pakistan.