US, Canada make strides in innovation index


WASHINGTON • The US moved back into the world’s top 10 in Bloomberg’s most-innovative economy ranking this year — 12 slots ahead of its closest regional competitor — Canada. Only six nations in the Western Hemisphere are ranked among the 60 countries.

The US rose three spots to eighth overall, reflecting the strength of its patent activity and high-tech density, where it was ranked as best in the world for both. The US also obtained a top 10 ranking in research and development (R&D) intensity and in productivity. Deficiencies in education, ranked 43rd, and as a byproduct researcher concentration, ranked 28th, hurting the US in its overall ranking. Five years ago, the US ranked third in the global index.

Tertiary enrolment and graduation rates in the US are strong, but the US suffers in that students are not obtaining science and engineering degrees in sufficient numbers. Only 14% of graduates are obtaining science and engineering degrees — the lowest among Group of Seven countries. To look at this another way, over the last decade, China almost doubled the number of professionals, including postgraduate PhD students, engaged in R&D by 2.1 million to 3.9 million overall — a 10-year increase that is almost 10 times that of the US.

In a world where the “21st century will be won and lost over control of innovative technologies” as Bloomberg economist Tom Orlik noted, this does not bode well for the US.

Canada advanced two spots in the annual index to break into the top 20 for the first time in three years. Canada scored among the top 10 countries in patent activity.

Brazil, the largest country in both South America and Latin America, returned to the list this year in the 45th spot. Brazil’s strongest showing came from the R&D sector, where it ranked 27th globally. R&D in Brazil account for 1.28% of its economy, on par with Italy, the third-largest economy in the eurozone.

Argentina, Chile and Mexico made their debuts in the annual Bloomberg index, at 50th, 58th and 59th respectively, as enough reliable data became available for the final index members to expand to 60 from the previous year’s 50. Chile’s top score was in education efficiency.

The Bloomberg Innovation Index, now in its seventh edition, analyses dozens of criteria using seven metrics, including R&D spending, manufacturing capability and concentration of high-tech public companies. — Bloomberg