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12 Years of the World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Countries

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Tracking the top 10 most innovative countries since 2011

12 Years of the World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Countries

Every year, the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) scores countries on how innovative their economies are with the Global Innovation Index.

The Index scores countries on indicators of a strong innovation economy. These include R&D spend, general market strength, patent systems and output, and local labor capital. And though a few countries consistently rank high, others are moving in and out of the top 10 rankings.

This graphic from Gilbert Fontana details the top 10 most innovative countries in the UN’s WIPO Global Innovation Index from 2011-2022.

Top 10 Innovative Countries (2011–2022)

Over the last 12 years, Switzerland has ranked at the top of the innovation index on the strength of its IP laws and local economic strength.

But much of the remaining top 10 have been in flux:

Most Innovative
Country Rank by Year
201120122013201420152016201720182019202020212022
Switzerland111111111111
Sweden222332232223
Singapore338776758887
Hong Kong48710n/an/an/an/an/an/an/an/a
Finland546465876779
Denmark67981086876910
U.S.7105654463332
Canada8n/an/an/an/an/an/an/an/an/an/an/a
Netherlands964549324565
UK1053223545444
Irelandn/a910n/a871010n/an/an/an/a
Luxembourgn/an/an/a99n/an/an/an/an/an/an/a
Germanyn/an/an/an/an/a109999108
Israeln/an/an/an/an/an/an/an/a10n/an/an/a
South Korean/an/an/an/an/an/an/an/an/a1056

In addition to Switzerland, seven other countries have been in the top 10 in each year, including Sweden, Singapore, and the United States.

Others have dropped out of the top 10, such as Canada in 2012 and Ireland in 2018. But that let up-and-comers like South Korea and Germany grab one of the top 10 spots. In total, 14 countries have ranked in the top 10 most innovative countries in the world over the time period covered in the visualization.

To learn more about the 2022 innovation rankings and how countries around the world ranked, check out The Most Innovative Countries in the World 2022.
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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Mapped: The World’s Top 50 Science and Technology Hubs

This map explores the world’s top 50 science and technology hubs based on the Global Innovation Index 2023 data.

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This map explores the world’s top 50 science and technology clusters, based on data from the Global Innovation Index 2023.

The World’s Top 50 Science and Technology Hubs

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

In 2023, the world experienced another wave of science and technology (S&T) innovation, from the introduction of the first over-the-counter birth control pill in the U.S. to the stunning growth of ChatGPT and artificial intelligence.

This map explores the world’s top 50 science and technology hubs leading these innovations based on data from the Global Innovation Index 2023. Hubs were ranked by their combined share of international patent applications and scientific publications.

East Asia Dominance in S&T

The world’s five most significant science and technology hubs are in East Asia.

The top-ranked Tokyo-Yokohama cluster made up just over 10% of all patent applications between 2018-2022.

ClusterCountry/EconomyPatent ApplicationsScientific Publications
Tokyo-Yokohama🇯🇵 Japan127,418115,020
Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou🇨🇳/🇭🇰 China/Hong Kong113,482153,180
Seoul🇰🇷 South Korea63,447133,604
Beijing🇨🇳 China38,067279,485
Shanghai-Suzhou🇨🇳 China32,924162,635
San Jose-San Francisco🇺🇸 U.S.47,26958,575
Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto🇯🇵 Japan38,41351,948
Boston-Cambridge🇺🇸 U.S.18,18476,378
San Diego🇺🇸 U.S.23,26120,928
New York City🇺🇸 U.S.13,83874,849
Nanjing🇨🇳 China7,143113,488
Paris🇫🇷 France15,17661,692
Wuhan🇨🇳 China6,25089,756
Hangzhou🇨🇳 China10,75562,924
Nagoya🇯🇵 Japan17,73616,091
Los Angeles,🇺🇸 U.S.11,55644,058
Washington, DC–Baltimore🇺🇸 U.S.5,52576,039
Daejeon🇰🇷 South Korea12,27525,552
Xi'an🇨🇳 China1,78686,937
London🇬🇧 Great Britain5,98159,068
Seattle🇺🇸 U.S.11,47220,322
Munich🇩🇪 Germany10,24824,239
Qingdao🇨🇳 China7,28639,745
Chengdu🇨🇳 China2,04667,334
Cologne🇩🇪 Germany7,46634,286
Amsterdam–Rotterdam🇳🇱 Netherlands4,23052,864
Taipei–Hsinchu🇹🇼 Taiwan3,90752,752
Houston🇺🇸 U.S.8,47524,636
Stuttgart🇩🇪 Germany9,34214,874
Tel Aviv–Jerusalem🇮🇱 Israel7,26824,219
Moscow🇷🇺 Russia2,03655,086
Chicago🇺🇸 U.S.5,76332,343
Singapore🇸🇬/🇲🇾 Singapore/Malaysia4,86136,803
Tehran🇮🇷 Iran24963,113
Philadelphia🇺🇸 U.S.5,39032,309
Tianjin🇨🇳 China1,26753,680
Changsha🇨🇳 China1,14952,768
Stockholm🇸🇪 Sweden6,06919,984
Minneapolis🇺🇸 U.S.6,62515,375
Hefei🇨🇳 China2,54938,974
Eindhoven🇳🇱 Netherlands7,9825,339
Melbourne🇦🇺 Australia2,12640,056
Berlin🇩🇪 Germany3,62430,464
Chongqing🇨🇳 China1,65141,412
Frankfurt am Main🇩🇪 Germany5,41018,590
Sydney🇦🇺 Australia2,53933,695
Raleigh🇺🇸 U.S.3,05730,206
Madrid🇪🇸 Spain1,58038,849
Zürich🇨🇭 Switzerland3,75924,437
Milan🇮🇹 Italy2,57831,077

The first American cluster on the list, the San Francisco Bay Area, is home to major tech companies such as Adobe, eBay, Google, and PayPal.

Along with Cambridge in the United Kingdom, the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most S&T-intensive clusters relative to overall population density.

For the first time, China topped the list of countries with the highest number of clusters among the top 100, having 24 total. The United States follows, with 21 clusters, then Germany with nine.

In addition, nearly every Chinese cluster rose in the rankings compared to last year, with only Beijing falling by one place.

São Paulo (Brazil); Bengaluru, Delhi, Chennai, and Mumbai (India); Tehran (Islamic Republic of Iran); Istanbul and Ankara (Türkiye); and Moscow (Russian Federation) are the only middle-income economy clusters outside China.

According to the Global Innovation Index, the U.S. leads in research and development (R&D) expenditure, followed by China, Japan, Germany, and the Republic of Korea.

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