Visualizing the World's Most Innovative Economies
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The World’s Most Innovative Economies

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Ranked: The World's Most Innovative Economies

The World’s 10 Most Innovative Economies

In the 21st century, innovation has become the heart and soul of economic policy. Developed and developing nations alike are in the race to leave industrialization behind, adapting instead to technology-focused, entrepreneurial societies.

Customized cancer treatment, faux meat products, and the smart home technologies are frequently positioned as ‘the next big thing’. But which countries are consistently innovating the most?

Today’s graphic comes from the seventh annual Bloomberg Innovation Index and highlights the 10 most innovative economies, and the seven metrics used to rank 2019’s top contenders.

Measuring Innovation

Bloomberg calculated each country’s innovation score using seven equally-weighted metrics.

  1. R&D Spending
    All research and development funding invested in an economy each year.
  2. Patent Activity
    Number of domestic patents filed, total patent grants, patents per population, filings per GDP, and total grants awarded measured against the global total.
  3. Tertiary Efficiency
    Total enrollment at post-secondary institutions, graduation levels, and number of science and engineering graduates.
  4. Manufacturing Value-added
    Manufacturing output levels that contribute to exports and domestic economic growth.
  5. Productivity
    Overall productivity levels of the working-age population.
  6. High-tech Density
    Number of domestic high-tech public companies, measured against the number of domestic public companies and the global total of public high-tech companies.
  7. Researcher Concentration
    Number of professionals currently engaged in research and development roles.

More than 200 countries were initially considered for Bloomberg’s Innovation Index. Any country reporting in less than six categories was automatically eliminated, leaving 95 countries remaining. Bloomberg publishes the results for the top 60 most innovative economies each year.

Notable Countries in the Top 60

The U.S. rejoined the top 10 after dropping to 11th in 2018 for low scores in education. Israel moved up five spots to 5th place, while Romania made the largest overall gain, jumping six spots to rank in the top 30.

2019 RankEconomyTotal ScoreChange in Ranking
#1🇰🇷 South Korea87.380
#2🇩🇪 Germany87.32
#3🇫🇮 Finland85.574
#4🇨🇭 Switzerland85.491
#5🇮🇱 Israel84.785
#6🇸🇬 Singapore84.49-3
#7🇸🇪 Sweden84.15-5
#8🇺🇸 United States83.213
#9🇯🇵 Japan81.96-3
#10🇫🇷 France81.67-1
#11Denmark81.66-3
#12Austria80.980
#13Belgium80.431
#14Ireland80.08-1
#15Netherlands79.541
#16China78.353
#17Norway77.79-2
#18United Kingdom75.87-1
#19Australia75.38-1
#20Canada73.652
#21Italy72.85-1
#22Poland69.1-1
#23Iceland68.411
#24New Zealand68.12-1
#25Czech Republic68.093
#26Malaysia67.610
#27Russia66.81-2
#28Luxembourg66.374
#29Romania64.786
#30Spain64.52-1
#31Slovenia64.11-
#32Hungary63.05-5
#33Turkey62.890
#34Portugal62.79-4
#35Greece62.05-4
#36Estonia61.790
#37Lithuania59.73-3
#38Hong Kong58.9-1
#39Slovakia58.03-1
#40Thailand57.775
#41Bulgaria56.360
#42Latvia55.46-2
#43Malta55.43-4
#44Croatia54.98-2
#45Brazil53.62-
#46U.A.E.52.93-
#47Iran52.812
#48Cyprus52.05-1
#49Serbia51.35-5
#50Argentina51.31-
#51South Africa51.03-3
#52Tunisia48.92-9
#53Ukraine48.05-7
#54India47.93-
#55Kuwait47.27-
#56Saudi Arabia47.18-
#57Qatar46.58-
#58Chile46.4-
#59Mexico46-
#60Vietnam45.92-

Brazil rejoined the list at number 45, after not being included on the 2018 list. The United Arab Emirates made the list for the first time, marking the highest debut ever at number 46.

Tunisia and Ukraine were the two countries with the largest losses, which both fell out of the top 50 this year. To date, South Africa is the only Sub-Saharan nation to be ranked in the index.

Newcomers to the Innovation Index in 2019 are some of the largest emerging economies, such as India, Mexico, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia.

Impact of Global Innovation

Innovation is complex─many factors play a role in the ideation, development, and commercialization of any new technology. And while innovation success can fuel economic growth, it is generally more accessible in high-income economies, where R&D funding is readily available.

“The battle for control of the global economy in the 21st century will be won and lost over control of innovative technologies.”

—Tom Orlik, Bloomberg Economics

The focus of an economy that prioritizes innovation, however, is not simply allocating resources for a group of people─it’s discovering new methods, models, and products that create a better quality of life for society.

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Financing

Which Country is the Cheapest for Starting a Business?

These maps show the most (and least) costly countries for starting a business by relative costs.

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Cost of Starting A Business By Country Share

Which Country is the Cheapest for Starting A Business?

Starting a new business isn’t as simple as coming up with an idea.

In addition to the time investment needed to formulate and create a business, there’s often a hefty capital requirement. A new business usually requires paying different fees for licensing, permits, and approvals, and many governments also have minimum on-hand capital requirements.

And costs are relative. Though it might be more costly to start a business in some countries on paper, affordability also takes into account relative income.

These graphics from BusinessFinancing.co.uk use data from the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report to examine the startup cost for a small-to-medium-size LLC in the largest business cities across 190 countries.

The Cost of Starting a Business in Different Countries

From a pure cost perspective, the affordability of starting a business is extremely dependent on where you are located.

Some countries make the cost of business extremely low to encourage more economic activity. Others have high or nearly inaccessible fees to protect existing businesses, or to simply cash in on the entrepreneurial spirit.

CountryCost (2020 USD)% of Monthly Income
Venezuela0-%
Rwanda0-%
Slovenia0-%
Kyrgyzstan80.1
Sudan80.13
Timor Leste100.09
Azerbaijan110.04
Kazakhstan120.02
Ukraine120.06
Egypt130.07
South Africa130.03
Mauritania140.12
Uzbekistan140.13
Chile160.02
United Kingdom170.01
Belarus180.04
Pakistan200.16
Croatia270.03
Sierra Leone290.81
Armenia300.1
Burundi301.77
Iran310.09
Benin320.38
Liberia320.87
Niger320.78
Afghanistan330.86
Georgia330.1
Mongolia370.17
Romania380.05
Botswana400.08
New Zealand430.02
South Korea470.02
Kosovo49-%
Angola540.63
Togo561.29
Indonesia740.3
Bulgaria750.11
Moldova760.24
Mozambique762.09
Russia770.11
Congo (Democratic Republic of the)802.39
Ireland860.02
Lesotho860.89
Mauritius860.1
Lithuania900.07
Tunisia930.42
Belize990.33
Bhutan1000.45
Madagascar1002.72
Laos1050.68
Montenegro1050.16
Denmark1100.02
Serbia1120.24
Trinidad and Tobago1150.1
Malawi1174.72
Morocco1200.52
Zambia1201.28
Cameroon1251.24
Ghana1251.03
Vietnam1280.73
Tajikistan1361.86
China1380.21
India1420.98
Bangladesh1491.11
Ethiopia1503.21
Honduras1520.85
Czech Republic1580.13
Uganda1633.67
Canada1650.05
Argentina1670.21
Eritrea1744.63
Kiribati1740.7
Estonia1760.11
Sri Lanka1760.56
Turkey1770.28
Myanmar1791.73
Nepal1862.43
Jamaica1890.48
Thailand2010.43
North Macedonia2020.52
Algeria2030.79
Comoros2041.9
Greece2040.14
Slovakia2090.17
Brazil2180.35
Nigeria2231.68
Bahrain2310.14
Micronesia, Federated States of2310.82
Paraguay2320.61
Dominican Republic2330.39
Singapore2380.06
Taiwan239-%
Sweden2590.07
Tonga2620.78
Portugal2680.17
Latvia2870.25
Samoa2961
France3180.11
Tanzania3224.55
The Gambia3266.71
Libya3280.59
Guinea-Bissau3325.72
Senegal3433.35
Kenya3533.01
Peru3550.77
Costa Rica3630.4
Colombia3640.85
Brunei3660.18
Hungary3690.34
South Sudan3735.31
Palau375-%
Australia3770.1
Guinea3806.42
Poland3870.36
Philippines3891.44
Swaziland (Eswatini)4251.59
Guyana4361.29
Namibia4461.15
Papua New Guinea4592.71
Vanuatu4842.04
Mali4938.02
Oman5020.65
Hong Kong5121.2
Germany5240.16
Central African Republic52914.55
Malaysia5670.83
Zimbabwe5765.01
Chad59113.58
Albania5971.71
Marshall Islands610-%
Malta620-%
Japan6410.24
Fiji7051.65
United States of America7250.16
Panama7300.66
Spain7360.34
Cambodia7467.55
Finland7970.23
Yemen80810.7
Kuwait8140.31
Guatemala8192.63
Bosnia and Herzegovina8331.93
Seychelles8420.75
Jordan8602.67
Somalia900-%
Haiti94114.03
Gabon9472.18
Nicaragua9486.6
El Salvador9753.53
Dominica10732.31
Iceland10890.23
Barbados11590.92
Congo (Republic of the)122925.46
Israel12410.41
Saudi Arabia12670.81
Antigua and Barbuda1271-%
Bolivia12935.67
Luxembourg13430.27
Uruguay13441.13
Syria139210.41
Grenada1410-%
Mexico14502.34
Switzerland14630.27
Norway14820.27
Iraq15734.34
Cyprus15760.72
Liechtenstein1619-%
Ecuador16304.23
Bahamas18100.89
Netherlands21900.59
Equatorial Guinea23227.18
Belgium24020.74
Austria24750.71
Lebanon28555.35
Suriname303011.14
Qatar39520.92
San Marino4672-%
Italy48762.02
United Arab Emirates74442.23

At a glance, the cheapest regions for starting a business include Central Asia and Africa.

But the cheapest countries on the dollar for a new startup are Venezuela, Rwanda, and Slovenia. While the former does have fees that only total $0.21, both Rwanda and Slovenia have no fees for new businesses, though Slovenia does have a capital requirement of €7,500.

Expensive countries for new businesses are also spread across the world. There are some in Europe, including Italy at $4,876 and Austria at $2,475, as well as the Americas, including Suriname at $3,030 and Ecuador at $1,630.

The most expensive countries, however, are largely in the Middle East. They include #1 UAE at $7,444, #4 Qatar at $3,952, and #6 Lebanon at $2,855.

Which Country is the Most Affordable for Starting a Business?

Just as costs vary by country, so too does relative affordability.

Though some countries are cheaper than others for starting a business on the dollar, the picture changes when accounting for monthly income. When it comes to the cost of starting a business relative to monthly income, many developed countries take the cake.

Not including countries with missing data, the most affordable countries for starting a business include the UK, Denmark, and Ireland in Europe, South Korea in East Asia, and New Zealand in Oceania. Startup costs in each range from just 1%-2% of monthly income.

The picture is similar in the Americas, where Chile and Canada have the lowest relative fees at 2% and 5% of monthly income respectively. Even the U.S.—which has a decently high cost of $725 for starting a business—is relatively affordable at 16% of monthly income.

Some of the least affordable countries lie in the Middle-East and Central America. Haiti and Suriname have startup costs that are 1,403% and 1,114% of monthly income, while Yemen has affordability rates of 1,070%.

But the least affordable countries are in Africa. Many countries on the continent have startup costs that are more than 100% of monthly income, but the Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic have affordability rates of 2,546% and 1,455% of monthly income, respectively.

Where is the best place to start a business? It can depend on the barrier to entry. But the biggest barrier takes time and ingenuity: finding the right idea at the right time.

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Misc

12 Ways to Get Smarter in One Infographic

Highlighting and breaking down the 12 most useful and universal mental models that will make you smarter and more productive.

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12 Ways to Get Smarter in One Infographic

View the high resolution version of today’s graphic by clicking here.

The level of a person’s raw intelligence, as measured by aptitude tests such as IQ scores, is generally stable for most people during the course of their adulthood.

While it’s true that there are things you can do to fine tune your natural capabilities, such as doing brain exercises, solving puzzles, and getting optimal sleep—the amount of raw brainpower you have is difficult to increase in any meaningful or permanent way.

For those of us who constantly strive to be high-performers in our fields, this seems like bad news. If we can’t increase our processing power, then how can we solve life’s bigger problems as we move up the ladder?

The Key: Mental Models

The good news is that while raw cognitive abilities matter, it’s how you use and harness those abilities that really makes the difference.

The world’s most successful people, from Ray Dalio to Warren Buffett, are not necessarily leagues above the rest of us in raw intelligence—instead, they simply develop and learn to apply better mental models of how the world works, and they use these principles to filter their thoughts, decisions, strategies, and execution.

This infographic comes from best-selling author and entrepreneur Michael Simmons, who has collected over 650 mental models through his work. The infographic, in a similar style to one we previously published on cognitive biases, synthesizes these models down to the most useful and universal mental models that people should learn to master first.

Concepts such as the 80/20 rule (Pareto’s principle), compound interest, and network building are summarized in the visualization, and their major components are broken down further within the circle.

Mental Model Examples

Example #1: Pareto’s Principle (80/20 Rule for Prioritization)

In a recent Medium post by Simmons, he highlights a well-known mental model that is the perfect bread crumb to start with.

The 80/20 rule (Pareto’s principle) is named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who was likely the first person to note the 80/20 connection in an 1896 paper.

In short, it shows that 20% of inputs (work, time, effort) often leads to 80% of outputs (performance, sales, revenue, etc.), creating an extremely vivid mental framework for making prioritization decisions.

80-20 law Pareto's principle

The 80/20 rule represents a power law distribution that has been empirically shown to exist throughout nature, and it also has huge implications on business.

If you focus your effort on these 20% of tasks first, and get the most out of them, you will be able to drive results much more efficiently than wasting time on the 80% “long-tail” shown below.

Power law distribution

Example #2: Metcalfe’s Law (Network Building)

Metcalfe’s Law is one of network effects, stating that a network’s value is proportional to the square of the number of nodes in the network.

From a mental model perspective, this is a useful way to understand how certain types of technology-driven businesses derive value.

If you have a smart grid that is only connected to one power source, that’s alright—but one connected to many different energy sources and potential consumers is much more useful for everyone on the grid. Each additional node provides value for the rest of the connections.

Metcalfe's Law illustrated

This mental model can be applied outside of strict technology or business terms as well.

For example, if you build a personal network of connections, each additional relationship can provide more value to the other people in your network. It’s the same principle that Harvard or other prestigious universities operate on: the more value a student can get from the alumni network, the higher price they can charge for tuition.

It’s hard to compete with a fully formed network at scale, as they create massive economic moats for the owner. Modern social networks and messaging apps like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, WhatsApp, and Snapchat all operate with this in mind.

The Power of Mental Models

These are just two examples of how powerful mental models can be effective in making you think clearer and work smarter.

If you want to be a top performer, it’s worth looking into other mental models out there as well. They can help you better frame reality, so that you can harness your intelligence and effort in the most effective way possible—and it’ll allow you to deliver results along the way.

This post was first published in 2018. We have since updated it, adding in new content for 2021.

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