September 4, 2020

Global Innovation Index 2020

The Global Innovation Index 2020 has just been released. The Global Innovation Index is a report promoted by the WIPO aimed at evaluating the level of innovation in countries around the world, by measuring and monitoring different relevant indicators in this area (such as the level of education, investments in R&D, production of patents and scientific publications, regulatory framework for business activities, ease of access to capital or public-private collaboration, among others).


The purpose of this report is to observe the evolution of countries’ performance in this facet of the economy and to serve, at the same time, as a tool for the diagnosis and design of public policies in support of innovation, from the premise that innovation is an essential lever for the generation of new technological solutions and for the development of value-added business models, that are key to ensuring the sustained creation of quality jobs, wealth and well-being on a large scale.

The 2020 Global Innovation Index places special emphasis on financing innovation, an  issue that takes on special relevance in the current context of health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19.

Anticipating the decline in investments in innovation due to the economic and health crisis, and even though scientific advances in the health area are to be expected in the current scenario, the authors of the report call on leaders not to reduce the levels of investment achieved in recent years and not to lose perspective on the need for continued policies to support far-reaching innovation. Thus, they highlight how thanks to new business models and technological solutions generated by risky and sustained investments in innovation (in the fields of mobility, health, e-commerce, distance learning or energy) our society and economies are confronting the current crisis with more guarantees and will be able to tackle the challenges of climate change.

Finally, the authors of the report warn of the possible negative effects that the current unilateralist and nationalist trends can cause to economies in general and to innovation in particular, as they threat global value chains and international collaboration networks.

Regarding this year’s indicators and following the trend in recent reports, the countries belonging to the group of advanced economies top the ranking, with Switzerland, Sweden and the USA in the leading positions. However, the trend in the rise of several Asian countries such as Vietnam, India or the Philippines, led by China, that ranks 14th (1st within the group of middle-income countries) is confirmed. The study highlights how countries belonging to developing economies stand out in specific indicators. This is the case of Botswana or Tunisia in education or South Africa, Kenya and Egypt in R&D investments.

As far as Spain is concerned, according to the authors of the report, its performance in innovation activities (position 30 in the global innovation ranking) is in line with what its key indicators in this area show. Thus, the lack of investment in education, difficult access to capital and the bureaucratic barriers confronted when starting a new venture-business and the lack of public-private collaboration, amongst others, once again create a toll on Spain’s potential in this area. On the contrary, the study positively highlights, the high level of infrastructures available in the field of ICT, the scale and size of the Spanish economy, the scientific publications cited and the industrial designs requested.

For the first time, the 2020 GI report, classifies clusters of innovation (which are usually organized around urban areas) on the basis of their production of scientific publications and patents in relation to their estimated population.

The global ranking of clusters is led by Tokyo, while Madrid and Barcelona rank 45th and 46th respectively. With regard to the S&T (science and patents) clusters sub ranking, it is headed by Cambridge, while Barcelona ranks 64th and Madrid 75th.

In this sense, it is worth noting that while Madrid (50,547) surpasses (+ 15%) Barcelona (43,209) in the production of scientific publications, the latter shows (2,326 PCT patent applications) a better statistic (+ 35%) than Madrid (1,521 patents) in this indicator, although still very far from the 113,244 patents applied for by the leader of the global ranking of clusters, Tokyo-Yokohama.

Article by Josep Maria Pujals.