Special Report

Most Innovative Countries

Osobystist / iStock via Getty Images

Whether it is the latest smartphone, the newest vehicle safety feature, or the most recently developed prescription drug, examples of innovation are all around us.

Many of these developments improve our lives, some even bring us joy. Some innovations are noticeable, such as the development of the Roomba, while others go unseen, such as improvements in material productivity – but nearly all improve daily life. Of course, some countries contribute to innovations much more than others.

Unsurprisingly, high-income countries are better at developing new or improved products or processes, providing an environment conducive to innovation. They have the regulatory and legal frameworks that better protect innovators and consumers, universities that nurture the country’s brain power, and a lot of financing available for innovation. (See, this is the richest country in the world.)

To find the 20 most innovative countries in the world, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed World Intellectual Property Organization’s Global Innovation Index 2022, which measured 81 indicators of innovation inputs and outputs in 132 of the world’s economies. 

The index ranks each country on a scale of 0 to 100 based on innovative capacities as defined by the Oslo Manual, a widely adopted guidebook for measuring scientific and technical activities, published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Included in the scoring are factors such as policies and regulations affecting businesses, availability of financing for startups, labor productivity, education, and the quantity of intangible assets like patents.

Of the 20 most innovative countries, four are the most innovative in their regions. Notably, Israel leads in the vast region of northern Africa and western Asia and is the only country in this region to make it into this top 20.

South Korea is the most innovative country in Asia, followed by Singapore and China, while Switzerland bests the United States as the world’s most innovative country with an overall GII score of 64.6 out of 100. The U.S. score is 61.8. Perhaps not surprising, the U.S. ranks first in the market sophistication sub-index and third in the business sophistication and knowledge and technology outputs sub-indices. (Also see, countries where corporations cheat the free market the most.)

Interestingly, some of the most innovative countries have significant gaps between the availability of human capital and research, and their knowledge and technology outputs. China, for example, ranks sixth in the world for output but 20th in human capital and research. Similar gaps exist in the Netherlands and Israel.

Nine European Union members are among these most innovative countries, including Estonia, which joined the EU in 2004 and has made impressive advances in fostering a culture of innovation. Notably absent from this list are countries in Latin America and the Caribbean; Central and Southern Asia; and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Here are the world’s most innovative countries.

Click here to read our detailed methodology.

20. Iceland
> Overall global innovation index score: 49.5 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #29 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #22 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $72,903 – #8 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 360,872
> Notable tech companies: Alvotech, Ossur

[in-text-ad]

19. Luxembourg
> Overall global innovation index score: 49.8 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #32 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #33 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $126,426 – #1 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 660,924
> Notable tech companies: SES, SUSE

18. Estonia
> Overall global innovation index score: 50.2 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #34 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #21 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $28,333 – #35 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 1,202,762
> Notable tech companies: Nortal, Starship Technologies

17. Austria
> Overall global innovation index score: 50.2 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #11 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #19 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $52,131 – #16 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 8,940,860
> Notable tech companies: AT&S, Andritz

[in-text-ad-2]

16. Israel
> Overall global innovation index score: 50.2 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #24 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #7 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $54,660 – #14 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 9,043,387
> Notable tech companies: Mobileye, Check Point Software

15. Canada
> Overall global innovation index score: 50.8 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #12 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #24 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $54,966 – #13 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 38,516,736
> Notable tech companies: Shopify, Constellation Software

[in-text-ad]

14. Hong Kong, China
> Overall global innovation index score: 51.8 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #13 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #60 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $48,984 – #19 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 7,288,167
> Notable tech companies: Lenovo, HUTCHMED

13. Japan
> Overall global innovation index score: 53.6 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #21 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #11 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $33,815 – #28 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 123,719,238
> Notable tech companies: Sony, Keyence

12. France
> Overall global innovation index score: 55.0 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #15 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #15 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $40,964 – #24 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 68,521,974
> Notable tech companies: Sanofi, Schneider Electric

[in-text-ad-2]

11. China
> Overall global innovation index score: 55.3 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #20 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #6 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $1c2,720 – #55 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 1,413,142,846
> Notable tech companies: Tencent, Alibaba

10. Denmark
> Overall global innovation index score: 55.9 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #10 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #12 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $66,983 – #9 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 5,946,984
> Notable tech companies: Novo Nordisk, Genmab

[in-text-ad]

9. Finland
> Overall global innovation index score: 56.9 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #8 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #4 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $50,537 – #17 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 5,614,571
> Notable tech companies: Nokia, Orion Corporation

8. Germany
> Overall global innovation index score: 57.2 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #2 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #9 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $48,432 – #20 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 84,220,184
> Notable tech companies: SAP, Infineon

7. Singapore
> Overall global innovation index score: 57.3 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #7 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #13 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $82,808 – #6 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 5,975,383
> Notable tech companies: Sea (Garena), Grab Holdings

[in-text-ad-2]

6. Republic of Korea
> Overall global innovation index score: 57.8 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #1 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #10 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $32,255 – #29 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 51,966,948
> Notable tech companies: Samsung, SK Hynix

5. Netherlands
> Overall global innovation index score: 58.0 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #14 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #5 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $55,985 – #11 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 17,463,930
> Notable tech companies: ASML, NXP Semiconductors

[in-text-ad]

4. United Kingdom
> Overall global innovation index score: 59.7 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #6 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #8 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $45,850 – #22 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 68,138,484
> Notable tech companies: GlaxoSmithKline, Roivant Sciences

3. Sweden
> Overall global innovation index score: 61.6 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #3 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #2 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $55,873 – #12 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 10,536,338
> Notable tech companies: Spotify, Ericsson

2. United States
> Overall global innovation index score: 61.8 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #9 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #3 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $76,399 – #7 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 339,665,118
> Notable tech companies: Amazon, NVIDIA

[in-text-ad-2]

1. Switzerland
> Overall global innovation index score: 64.6 out of 100
> Human capital and research ranking: #4 best of 132 countries
> Knowledge and technology outputs ranking: #1 best of 132 countries
> GDP per capita, 2022: $92,101 – #4 highest of 132 countries
> Population, 2023 est.: 8,563,760
> Notable tech companies: Roche, STMicroelectronics

Methodology

To find the 20 most innovative countries in the world, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed World Intellectual Property Organization’s Global Innovation Index 2022, which measured 81 indicators of innovation inputs and outputs in 132 of the world’s economies. In addition to innovation data, for each country we added gross domestic product for 2022 from the World Bank, estimated 2023 population figures from the CIA World Factbook, and notable tech companies headquartered there.

The overall GII ranking is composed of two sub-indices: the innovation input sub-index and the innovation output sub-index. The two sub-indices were normalized to produce an overall score between 0 and 100.

The input sub-index comprises five input pillars that capture elements of the economy that enable and facilitate innovative activities: institutions, human capital and research, infrastructure, market sophistication, and business sophistication. The output sub-index comprises two pillars that capture innovative outputs, the result of innovative activities within the economy. The two are: knowledge and technology outputs and creative outputs. For detailed methodology see the report appendices.

Full citation: World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) (2022). Global Innovation Index 2022: What is the future of innovation-driven growth? Geneva: WIPO. DOI 10.34667/tind.46596

Sponsored: Want to Retire Early? Here’s a Great First Step

Want retirement to come a few years earlier than you’d planned? Or are you ready to retire now, but want an extra set of eyes on your finances?

Now you can speak with up to 3 financial experts in your area for FREE. By simply clicking here you can begin to match with financial professionals who can help you build your plan to retire early. And the best part? The first conversation with them is free.

Click here to match with up to 3 financial pros who would be excited to help you make financial decisions.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.