The Most Innovative Countries in the World in 2023
Which countries are the global innovation powerhouses?
In many ways, the past year has represented an inflection point in technological advancement. Almost overnight, OpenAI’s large language model ChatGPT became a household name and AI was within reach to the masses.
Yet looking under the surface, innovation is influenced by several unseen factors, from the institutional environment and high-tech exports to research talent and entrepreneurship culture.
This graphic shows the most innovative countries in the world, based on the 2023 Global Innovation Index (GII) put together by the World Intellectual Property Organization.
How is Innovation Measured?
The GII framework uses seven pillars and 80 indicators to assess a country’s innovative strength:
|Innovation Pillar||Example Indicators|
|👨💻 Knowledge & Tech Outputs||Patent applications, Hi-tech manufacturing|
|👩🏫 Human Capital & Research||Researchers per million population, Global corporate R&D investors|
|🧳 Business Sophistication||Knowledge-intensive employment, University-industry R&D collaboration|
|📈 Market Sophistication||Finance for startups, Venture capital received|
|💡 Creative Outputs||Trademark applications, Global brand value|
|🛣️ Infrastructure||Environmental performance, Information and communication technology access|
|🏛️ Institutions||Regulatory quality, Policies for doing business|
Together, the sum of these pillars produces an overall score for each country.
Most Innovative Countries in 2023
For the 13th consecutive year, Switzerland was named the world’s most innovative country.
Among the key factors underscoring its rank are its policies for doing business and its scale of patent applications. Its world-class research institutions and skilled workforce are also key ingredients in fostering innovation.
Below, we show the most innovative countries in 2023 across 132 economies:
|10||🇰🇷 South Korea||58.6|
|17||🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR||53.3|
|27||🇳🇿 New Zealand||46.6|
|31||🇨🇿 Czech Republic||44.8|
|48||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||34.5|
|54||🇲🇰 North Macedonia||33.0|
|59||🇿🇦 South Africa||30.4|
|74||🇨🇷 Costa Rica||27.9|
|77||🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina||27.1|
|90||🇱🇰 Sri Lanka||23.3|
|91||🇨🇻 Cabo Verde||23.3|
|94||🇩🇴 Dominican Republic||22.4|
|95||🇸🇻 El Salvador||21.8|
|102||🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago||20.7|
|112||🇨🇮 Côte d’Ivoire||18.2|
|124||🇧🇫 Burkina Faso||14.5|
For full methodology notes on which economies are included in the report, see the bottom of the article.
Sweden ranked second, rising above the U.S. this year. The country excelled in business sophistication, knowledge-intensive employment, and researchers per capita.
While the U.S. ranked third overall, it saw the highest scores in venture capital received, global corporate research and development (R&D) investors, and total unicorn value. Of the 1,206 global unicorns as of April 2023, the U.S. was home to 54% of the total.
At fifth overall, Singapore ranked the highest in Asia. As both a financial hub and global innovator, Singapore ranked strongly on government effectiveness, venture capital received, and stability for business. It has the highest venture funding per capita in the world.
Brazil (49th) ranked highest in Latin America, while Mauritius (57th) was the top-ranking country in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Top 25 Science & Technology Clusters
Here are the top science and technology (S&T) clusters per capita, based on the density of scientific authors and inventors in a geographic location:
|2023 Ranking||Cluster||Economy||Top Applicant||Top Scientific Organization|
|1||Cambridge||🇬🇧 UK||ARM||Cambridge University|
|🇺🇸 U.S.||Stanford University|
|3||Oxford||🇬🇧 UK||Oxford University||Oxford University|
|4||Eindhoven||🇳🇱 Netherlands||Philips Electronics||Eindhoven University
|6||Daejeon||🇰🇷 South Korea||LG Chem||KAIST|
|7||Ann Arbor||🇺🇸 U.S.||University of Michigan||University of Michigan|
|8||San Diego||🇺🇸 U.S.||Qualcomm||University of California
|9||Seattle||🇺🇸 U.S.||Microsoft||University of Washington
|10||Munich||🇩🇪 Germany||BMW||Technical University
|11||Kanazawa||🇯🇵 Japan||Fujitsu||Kanazawa University|
|12||Raleigh||🇺🇸 U.S.||Duke University||Duke University|
|13||Göteborg||🇸🇪 Sweden||LM Ericsson||University of Gothenburg|
|14||Beijing||🇨🇳 China||BOE Technology||Tsinghua University|
|15||Stockholm||🇸🇪 Sweden||LM Ericsson||Karolinska Institutet|
|16||Helsinki||🇫🇮 Finland||Nokia||University of Helsinki|
|17||Zürich||🇨🇭 Switzerland||ETH Zürich||ETH Zürich|
|18||Tokyo–Yokohama||🇯🇵 Japan||Mitsubishi Electric||University of Tokyo|
|19||Basel||🇨🇭 Switzerland, Denmark, France||DSM IP Assets||University of Basel|
|20||Copenhagen||🇩🇰 Denmark||Novo Nordisk||University of Copenhagen|
|21||Nuremberg–Erlangen||🇩🇪 Germany||Siemens||University of Erlangen
|22||Stuttgart||🇩🇪 Germany||Robert Bosch||Eberhard Karls
University of Tübingen
|23||Minneapolis||🇺🇸 U.S.||3M Innovative Properties||University of Minnesota
|24||Pittsburgh||🇺🇸 U.S.||University of Pittsburgh||University of Pittsburgh|
|25||Seoul||🇰🇷 South Korea||Samsung Electronics||Seoul National University|
As the top S&T cluster by intensity, Cambridge produced 37,000 articles per million people. Its top applicant, ARM, is a semiconductor company working closely with Cambridge University. Over 130 billion devices globally have used chips based on ARM’s designs.
The San Jose-San Francisco cluster ranked second, with Google as the top applicant. In 2022, the U.S. granted Google’s parent company Alphabet 2,077 patents.
South Korea’s Daejeon cluster is the top in Asia, led by battery maker LG Chem. In 2022, over 49,000 domestic and overseas patents were registered. In fact, both Honda and GM are partnering with LG Chem to build multi-billion dollar battery factories in Ohio over the next few years.
As we can see, many of the world’s most innovative countries have strong clusters that attract tech firms, researchers, and knowledge-intensive workers due to a host of factors that support disruption and tech advancement.
These tech clusters have a powerful effect on creating innovations that extend across multiple sectors of the economy, and the wider global landscape.
Ranked: The World’s Top 10 Electronics Exporters (2000-2021)
Here are the largest electronics exporters by country, highlighting how electronics trade has increasingly shifted to Asia over 20 years.
Top 10 Electronics Exporters in the World (2000-2021)
From personal computers to memory chips, the electronics trade plays a vital role in the world economy. In 2021, global electronics exports reached $4.1 trillion according to McKinsey Global Institute.
This graphic shows the 10 largest electronics exporters in the world, based on data from McKinsey, and how they’ve changed since 2000.
Ranked: The Top 10 Exporters of Electronics
Which countries are the leading exporters of electronics, and how has this shifted over the last two decades?
|Rank||Country||Share of Total 2021||Share of Total 2000|
|3||🇰🇷 South Korea||7%||5%|
|7||🇺🇸 United States||4%||16%|
We can see in the above table how global electronics trade has become more concentrated in Asia, specifically China and Taiwan. As an electronics powerhouse, 34% of the world’s electronic goods in 2021 came from China, representing $1.4 trillion in value.
Home to leading firms like TSMC, Taiwan also plays a major role due to its prowess in semiconductor manufacturing—highlighting the island’s global importance.
But not all of Asia has been thriving. In 2000, Japan was a global electronics powerhouse responsible for 13% of the industry’s exports, but has seen its share shrink to 4% in 2021. The U.S. has also sheen its electronics lead shrink, with exports down from 16% of the global total in 2000 to just 4% in 2021.
Several factors have driven this shift. Instead of manufacturing electronics domestically, the U.S. has outsourced technology to countries where manufacturing, production, and labor costs are lower. However, recently, the U.S. is focusing on reshoring semiconductor production specifically given its role in national security, as seen through the $52.7 billion CHIPS Act.
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