Asia overtakes North America, Europe in global innovation race

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Image by Rogatnev | Bigstockphoto

South Korea and China are leading the innovation charge in Asia and are fast-moving up the Global Innovation Index (GII), released yesterday by the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Along with significant innovation milestones in the rest of Asia, South Korea’s and China’s individual growth have fueled a long-awaited shift in innovation trends, away from North America and Europe and toward Asia.

“The pandemic has accelerated the long-term geographical shift of innovation activities toward Asia, even if Northern America and Europe continue to host some of the world’s leading innovators,” said WIPO.

South Korea bested Singapore as Asia’s top innovator, achieving stellar assessments across indicators for trademarks filed, global brand value, and cultural and creative services exports. From 10th place in 2020, South Korea jumped to 5th place, after the United Kingdom (4), United States (3), Sweden (2), and Switzerland (1).

China, meanwhile, is the only middle-income country in the global top 30, and is approaching the top 10 rapidly. From 17th place in 2018, China moved up to 14th last year and is now ranked 12th.

Data from GII shows that China has made efforts to stimulate innovation in the last few years. The numbers of patents and trademarks granted for inventions and industrial designs originating from the mainland now exceed those given out by Japan, Germany, and the United States on their own.

Singapore, which has been the region’s leading innovator, has maintained eighth place for three years in a row, after slipping from the top 5 in 2018. Singapore is the global leader in input rank and also ranks first in two new indicators: deals for venture capital investors and venture capital recipients.

Other Asian countries climbing up the GII ranks include Vietnam (44), India (46), and the Philippines (51). WIPO reported that, together with Turkey, these three economies “have the potential to change the global innovation landscape for good.”

Globally, WIPO noted the steady growth of scientific output, expenditures in research and development, intellectual property filings, and venture capital deals over 2021. Prior to the pandemic, these areas reached peak performance.

“As the world looks to rebuild from the pandemic, we know that innovation is integral to overcoming the common challenges that we face and to constructing a better future. The Global Innovation Index is a unique tool to guide policy-makers and businesses in charting plans to ensure that we emerge stronger from the pandemic,” said Daren Tang Director General, WIPO.

Related article: Asia-Pacific predicted to become global hub of AI innovation

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