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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The Type of Business Every Country Wants to Start

This series of maps shows a regional breakdown of the most popular types of businesses people want to start, based on online search results.

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The Type of Business Every Country Wants to Start

View a higher resolution version of this map.

Every year, millions of new businesses are started across the world—in 2021, nearly 5.4 million new business applications were filed in the U.S. alone.

And since startups and new businesses play a significant role in shaping a country’s economic growth, encouraging entrepreneurship is vital. But what types of businesses around the world are people most interested in starting?

These maps by ZenBusiness show the most popular types of businesses that entrepreneurs in nearly every country want to start, based on analyzing relevant internet search results.

Most Searched Businesses Around the World

To source the data, ZenBusiness analyzed searches from Ahrefs, specifically looking for the term “start a business” and its equivalents in local languages as of February 2022.

They then found the relevant topic or keyword with the highest search volume, and organized the results into 11 different industries:

  • Beauty & Cosmetics
  • Food & Drink
  • Logistics & Infrastructure
  • Personal Services
  • Recycling
  • Software Development
  • Business & Financial
  • Leisure & Tourism
  • Marketing
  • Real Estate
  • Retail & E-Commerce

The data showed that the industries entrepreneurs are most attracted to vary greatly from country to country, depending on a variety of factors such as infrastructure, business climate, and culture.

Here’s a breakdown of the most searched businesses around the world, broken down by region.

Africa

Map of the most searched businesses in Africa

From cooking gas refills in South Africa to supplements in the Gambia, entrepreneurs across Africa seem to be interested in starting a wide range of businesses (at least according to their searches).

But while the results varied across the region, the most-searched industry was personal services such as cleaning, interior design, and contracting. Cleaning was especially popular, ranking first in six different African countries.

One African country worth highlighting is Morocco, where freight is the most-searched startup term across the country. This makes sense considering Morocco is home to several major ports, including the Port of Tanger Med, which is Africa’s largest port by cargo capacity.

Europe

Map of the most searched businesses in Europe

In Europe, real estate is the most-searched industry, ranking number one in seven different countries across the continent. Over the last decade, the European Union’s real estate market has boomed—between 2010 and 2021, home prices in the EU increased by 42%.

Retail is also a popular industry across Europe, with clothing-related searching taking the top spot in five different European countries.

Middle East & Central Asia

Map of the most searched businesses in the Middle East

From soap production in Uzbekistan to dropshipping in Azerbaijan, the Middle East & Central Asia have the most diverse searches compared to any other region.

One particularly interesting top search was in the United Arab Emirates, where imports and exports ranked first. The UAE’s economy is heavily reliant on trade, especially oil, which makes up 30% of the region’s GDP and 41% of public revenues.

Rest of Asia & Oceania

Map of the most searched businesses in Asia and Oceania

Asia and Oceania had an interesting mix of unique business searches. For instance, pig farming ranked number one in the Solomon Islands, and lawn moving took the top spot in New Zealand.

But generally speaking, retail was one of the most-searched-for business types across this region, with clothing taking the top spot in countries like Australia, Indonesia, and Singapore.

North America

Map of the most searched businesses in North America

Across North America, retail takes the top spot for most searched business type. In fact, the top searches in nearly half of the region’s countries are related to the retail or e-commerce industry.

The U.S. currently has the largest retail market in the world, although China is close on its heels. In 2021, America’s retail market was valued at over $6.5 trillion U.S. dollars.

South America

Map of the most searched businesses in South America

Food was the top searched industry across South America, ranking number one in half the countries across the region. In Brazil, sweets took the top spot, which might not be surprising considering the country is the top sugar cane producer worldwide.

Clothing was also a popular business idea, taking the top spot in five South American countries.

Which countries surprised you the most with their new business interest?

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