Ireland rises 3 places to 8th place in Global Innovation Index

20 Jan 2016

Sunset on the campus at the University of Limerick. Ireland has strengthened its innovation outputs, according to the Global Innovation Index.

Ireland has moved up the ranks three places to 8th in the world in the Global Innovation Index, which is a collaboration between Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

The Global Innovation Index found that not only are developing economies entering the fray as serious players in terms of R&D, but certain European economies, including Ireland and France, saw no aggregate drop in R&D spend during 2015.

In fact, the report showed that all through the economic crisis that began in 2008, Ireland stayed steady in its R&D spending levels or GERD (gross domestic expenditure on R&D) and, in fact, began increasing GERD from 2011.

Ireland (ranked 11th in 2014) now enters the top 10 at 8th position, pushing Hong Kong (China) to 11th position (down from 10 in 2014).

Ireland strengthens its innovation outputs

According to the index, Ireland is back in the top 10 for the second time.

“This improvement is attributable to a much-improved innovation efficiency ranking (from 47th to 12th), a consequence of strengthening its innovation outputs (from 11th place in 2014 to 7th place in 2015). Ireland ranks in the top 25 across all pillars, with its biggest progress in infrastructure (jumping 14 places) and creative outputs (jumping seven places).

“These pillar improvements are the result of significant improvement in all variables within the ecological sustainability and intangible assets sub-pillars. Conversely, Ireland worsens slightly in institutions (dropping six places), human capital and research (dropping two places), market sophistication (dropping six places), and business sophistication (down one place),” the index says.

“At the variable level, some of Ireland’s weaknesses are the cost of redundancy dismissal, total value of stocks traded, intensity of local competition, high-tech imports, national office patent applications, and cultural and creative services exports.”

At the same time, the leading countries remain largely the same as the previous year, with Switzerland, the UK and Sweden in the lead as global innovators.

“Innovation holds far-reaching promise for spurring economic growth in countries at all stages of development. However, realising this promise is not automatic,” said WIPO director-general Francis Gurry. He added: “Each nation must find the right mix of policies to mobilise the innate innovative and creative potential in their economies.”

As a whole, the group of top 25 performers – all high-income economies – remains largely unchanged from past editions, illustrating that the leaders’ performance is hard to challenge for those that follow.

Some exceptions are: the Czech Republic (24th), which is in the top 25. Also, China (29th) and Malaysia (32nd) showed a performance which is similar to the one of the top 25 high-income countries, including in areas such as human capital development and research and development funding.

Johan Aurik, managing partner and chairman of the board of A.T. Kearney, added: “While European countries are leading the index, we see policy concerns in three areas: adopting more forward-looking legislation for emerging technologies such as autonomous cars; enabling companies to better anticipate new regulation, and improving regulatory harmonisation so that standards are more easily adopted and upheld.”

Sunset on an Irish campus image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years