FeaturedNationalVOLUME 17 ISSUE # 11

World Innovation Index and Pakistan

Innovation is the key to success in the modern world. Innovative nations forge ahead while others lag behind. Innovation is the most important factor in determining which countries are most technologically advanced in the world.

According to the Bloomberg Innovation Index 2021, the top 10 most innovative countries in the world are South Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Israel, Finland, Netherlands and Austria.

In the index’s 2021 edition, South Korea has earned the title of the nation with the most technologically advanced economy. South Korea’s best performing metric is patent activity, for which it ranked first in the world. South Korea ranked second for both research and development intensity and gross value added by manufacturing, fourth for high-tech company density, and third for researcher concentration.

Singapore ranked as 2021’s second-most innovative country. Singapore’s rise can be attributed to its rising productivity and manufacturing gains. Singapore ranks third for gross value added by manufacturing. Switzerland ranked as the third-most innovative country in the world in 2021. Switzerland is among the countries with the highest spending on research and development in relation to GDP.

Germany, which ranked number 1 in 2020, fell to the fourth spot. Full of well-known tech companies and countless new tech start-ups, Germany ranked third for its density of high-tech companies. Germany is best known for its engineering and as home to Volkswagen, Siemens, etc. Germany is now a global leader in medicine, military technology, and infrastructure.

Ranking fifth, Sweden invested SEK 155.5 billion (US$154 billion) in R&D in 2017, which helps explain why the country achieved 2021 rankings of fourth for research and development intensity and sixth for high-tech density. The next is Denmark, which ranks second for researcher concentration and eighth for both R&D intensity and high-tech density.

Denmark ranks third in the world for productivity. Israel ranks first in the world for both R&D intensity and researcher concentration. Israel’s large pool of STEM talent, entrepreneurial talent, low costs of R&D talent have made it a competitive country in the global R&D market. With many U.S.-based clients. Israel even competes with Silicon Valley. Apple, IBM, AT&T, Samsung, GE, Paypal, Microsoft, and Motorola are only a few of the many tech giants that have an R&D presence in Israel. Finland is a jack of all trades, ranking between 10th and 17th in the world in all seven metrics. The country excels in technology and high-tech solutions.

The Netherlands rose to the top 10 most innovative economies in 2021. In the 10th position in the list is Austria, which ranks sixth in the world for R&D intensity and ninth for both manufacturing value added and concentration of researchers. Austria is very strong in the mechanical engineering and organic farming sectors. The United States is the eleventh-most innovative country in the world. Home to Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Tesla, Amazon, Microsoft, Intel and countless others the United States ranks first in the world for its concentration of high-tech companies.

Where does Pakistan stand in the world innovation ladder?

The Global Innovation Index (GII) ranks Pakistan 99th out of 132 economies in 2021. The score of Pakistan is 24.4. This ranking relies on 81 different indicators clubbed under seven pillars. One of the pillars is human capital and research, and Pakistan’s rank in this is 117.

Pakistan has not been able to make significant investment in innovation in the form of R&D, education and solid infrastructure and institution-supporting innovative activities. Education expenditure as a percentage of GDP is 2.9%. Pakistan’s literacy rate is the lowest in South Asia and overall Asia.

It may be noted here that Pakistan ranks 134 in the Human Capital Index out of 157 countries. Investment in human capital and the quality of human capital is low. Human capital can be built by improving the quality of education, increasing the literacy rate and ensuring training opportunities for workers to upgrade their skills.

Because of the low level of education, a child born in Pakistan today is only 41 percent productive as compared to their actual potential. This is lower than the average for the South Asian region and lower middle-income countries.

This underlines the need for enhancing labour productivity in Pakistan.

As things stand today, technical and vocational training opportunities are available to only a small proportion of the labour force and the majority has no chance to acquire and upgrade their skills. Pakistan’s youth bulge can prove to be a boon for the national economy if we can bring about improvement in the quality of education as well as in the early childhood development of future workers. To this end, closer collaboration between educational institutions and the industry to give practical experience to students can prove very useful.