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USA vs. Canada: Which Country is the Most Innovative? [Chart]

USA vs. Canada: Which is the Most Innovative Country? [Chart]

USA vs. Canada: Which is the Most Innovative Country? [Chart]

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

This week, an in-depth report on global innovation was co-released by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization. The 2015 version of the report is not for the faint of heart: it clocks in at 453 pages long and covers a total of 141 countries that make up 98.6% of global GDP.

The methodology of the report uses innovation inputs and outputs to create an overall Global Innovation Index with a score for each country. Inputs include factors such as institutions, human capital, infrastructure, market sophistication, and business sophistication. Outputs deal with actual innovation results such as knowledge, technology, and creative outputs.

Lastly, there is also a curious measure which divides outputs by inputs to find an “efficiency” factor: in other words, which countries are getting the most bang for their buck in terms of innovation.

Global Innovation Index Framework:
Innovation Index Framework

The data is quite granular, and each innovation score is based on 79 variables. Rather than comparing all countries together, we decided to look at Canada and the United States to see which of the 49th parallel neighbors is the most innovative country. If you’d prefer to read an executive summary of the report itself, there is an abstract here that includes more analysis on other countries such as Switzerland and the United Kingdom, which came in first and second place respectively in the overall rankings.

USA vs. Canada

Many of the wealthy countries in the report, including Canada and the United States, have a quality set of inputs for innovation: world-class universities, fair regulatory environments, sophisticated economies, and strong knowledge workers.

However, the report shows a few big differences specifically between Canada and the United States that are worth noting.

Firstly, the “quality of innovation” in the United States is higher. University performance, the reach of scholarly articles, the international dimension of patent applications, and other such measures have the USA as the top place within the entire high-income group, followed by countries such as the UK, Japan, Germany, and Switzerland.

This helps the United States get a better score than Canada in terms of Knowledge and Technology Outputs, which make up half of the formula for the overall index. The United States scores a 58.0 on those outputs, while Canada scores 41.9.

Next, the United States holds the top position globally in measures concerning Market Sophistication, which gives it a score of 81.5 compared to Canada’s 73.5 in that category. Canada almost makes up for this with its strong institutions. In terms of Business Environment (a sub-category to “Institutions”) Canada has the best ranking in the world. However, the United States has strong institutions as well, and the difference here is only 5.9 points.

Lastly, Canada’s score was impacted by its weakness in the Human Capital and Research category, where it dropped from 13th to 22nd in ranking since the previous year’s report. This weakness is described by the authors as being linked to “government spending on secondary education per pupil, where [Canada] ranks 65th”.

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