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(AC Almelor, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Kate Whiting, Senior Writer, Formative Content

What makes a country innovative? The excellence of its academic institutions? The amount it spends on coming up with new ideas or its willingness to work with a diverse mix of talent?

All these things and more, according to the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Competitiveness Report, which ranks 141 economies on their innovation capability – one of 12 pillars indicating their competitiveness.


These economies are this year’s 10 best innovators.

1. Germany

For the second year in a row, Germany retains the title of the world’s most innovative country, topping the rankings in the Global Competitiveness Report’s innovation capability pillar. It scores particularly high for research and development – and has more than 290 patent applications per million of the population.

2. The United States

The US, which also comes second overall in the Global Competitiveness Index in 2019, remains an innovation powerhouse. It comes first for the prominence of its research institutions and for the number of scientific papers it publishes.

3. Switzerland

The second most innovative country in Europe, Switzerland tops the rankings for having the most highly skilled workforce through which to transform its innovations into products. It likes to collaborate – coming top for international co-inventions (71.42) per million of the population.

4. Taiwan, China

Taiwan, China performs well across most of the innovation capability indicators – coming fourth for the diversity of its workforce, and third for the number of patent applications per million of the population.

5. Sweden

Like the US, Sweden works well with others, coming fourth for international co-inventions per million of the population. It also invests in innovation, spending 3.3% of its GDP on research and development.

6. South Korea

The second most innovative economy in Asia, South Korea tops the rankings for buyer sophistication, as well as scoring highly for patent applications and R&D expenditure.

7. Japan

Although seventh overall for innovation, Japan comes first in the research and development sub-pillar. At more than 490 per million of the population, it has by far the most patent applications of any country in the top 10 for innovation.

8. United Kingdom

The UK comes eighth for innovation, with its strongest indicator being scientific publications, for which it scores 1,289 – 150 points higher than the most innovative country, Germany.

9. France

France performs well in the research and development sub-pillar, ranking third for the prominence of its research institutions.

10. Netherlands

The Netherlands has improved this year in every indicator in the research and development sub-pillar and it ranks third for multi-stakeholder collaboration, an improvement on last year.