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Ranked: The Most Innovative Economies in the World

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The Most Innovative Economies in the World

Ranked: The Most Innovative Economies in the World

Innovation was again a front-of-mind theme in Davos at the World Economic Forum’s annual assembly of political and business leaders in 2020.

The global conversation centered around the ability of countries to innovate in the face of changing times. An economy’s response to megatrends, such as tech breakthroughs and the risks of climate change, can dictate its long-term success.

Today’s chart identifies the world’s top 20 most innovative economies, based on the annual index created by Bloomberg. We also delve into how the top 10 spots have evolved over time.

How Are Innovative Economies Measured?

Each year, the index assesses over 200 economies across seven weighted metrics.

  1. R&D Intensity
    Annual research and development spending, as a % of an economy’s gross domestic product (GDP).
  2. Patent Activity
    The number of annual patent and grant filings, and the 3-year average growth of filings abroad and filings growth, as a share of the world’s total patent growth.
  3. Tertiary Efficiency
    The total enrollment in higher education, the share of labor force with advanced education levels, and the share of STEM graduates and in the labor force.
  4. Manufacturing Value-added
    Manufacturing output levels—contributing to exports—as a % of GDP, and per capita.
  5. Productivity
    GDP and gross national income (GNI) in the working age population, and the 3-year improvement.
  6. High-tech Density
    The volume of domestic, high-tech public companies as a share of the world’s total companies. Examples of high-tech companies include: aerospace and defense, biotech, internet services, and renewable energy.
  7. Researcher Concentration
    Professionals (including postgraduate PhD students) engaged in R&D across the population.

Based on available data of these measures, only 105 countries made the final cut for this year’s edition of the index—below are the 60 most innovative economies scored out of 100 points, and the highlights from that list.

The 10 Most Innovative Economies

For the first time in years, Germany clinched the top spot for the most innovative economy, ending South Korea’s winning streak. The European nation scores in the top five for its manufacturing value-added, high-tech density, and patent activity metrics.

However, even winners have some room for improvement. As the global economy sways ever more in the direction of services over manufacturing, Germany could improve its rate of higher education to achieve an even better score on the index.

Ranking third overall, Singapore leads the charge for tertiary efficiency, with almost 85% gross enrollment in higher education as of 2017. In contrast, Germany’s enrollment stood at around 70% in the same year.

Which other countries sit in the top 10?

RankCountryScoreYoY Rank ChangeBest-performing Metric
#1🇩🇪 Germany88.21+1High-tech density, Patent activity (tied)
#2🇰🇷 South Korea88.16-1R&D intensity
#3🇸🇬 Singapore87.01+3Tertiary efficiency (Ranked #1)
#4🇨🇭 Switzerland85.670R&D intensity, Researcher concentration (tied)
#5🇸🇪 Sweden85.50+2R&D intensity
#6🇮🇱 Israel85.03-1R&D intensity (Ranked #1)
#7🇫🇮 Finland84.00-4Productivity, Researcher concentration (tied)
#8🇩🇰 Denmark83.22+3Researcher concentration (Ranked #1)
#9🇺🇸 United States83.17-1High-tech density, Patent activity
(Tied, Ranked #1 for both)
#10🇫🇷 France82.750High-tech density

A global hub for innovation, South Korea is still not to be ignored. With one of the most complex economies around, it leads in exports of communications technology and cars. It’s also at the forefront of 5G, being the first country to roll it out—so it’s no surprise that South Korea spends big on research, relative to its GDP.

R&D spending determines life or death for South Korean companies… It’s about widening whatever lead South Korea has—or else China will catch up.

—Chang Suk-Gwon, University professor in Seoul

The United States ranks in first place for both patent activity, and high-tech density—with the highest share of domestic high-tech public companies in the world. With the “Big Five” tech giants all headquartered here, it’s easy to see their impact on a global scale.

Over the past five years, the top 10 players in this index have shuffled around, but remained quite consistent. But one particular economy may well upend the future leaderboard.

The Most Innovative Economies (#11-20)

In 2020, the #11-#20 ranked innovative countries show an interesting mix.

RankCountryScoreYoY Ranking ChangeBest-performing metric
#11🇦🇹 Austria82.40+1R&D intensity
#12🇯🇵 Japan82.31-3R&D intensity, Manufacturing value-added (tied)
#13🇳🇱 Netherlands81.28+2High-tech density
#14🇧🇪 Belgium79.93-1R&D intensity, Productivity (tied)
#15🇨🇳 China78.80+1Patent activity (Ranked #2)
#16🇮🇪 Ireland78.65-2Manufacturing value-added, Productivity
(Tied, Ranked #1 for both)
#17🇳🇴 Norway76.930Productivity
#18🇬🇧 United Kingdom76.030Tertiary efficiency
#19🇮🇹 Italy75.76+2High-tech density
#20🇦🇺 Australia74.13-1Productivity

China’s steady rise (up from 21st place in 2017) could be because it scores second worldwide for patent activity. This comes from the aggressive 6,000 patents filed since 2015 by the nation’s own tech giants. The patents cover breakthrough technologies from AI and blockchain, to autonomous driving and even regenerative medicine.

Ireland comes in first place on both manufacturing value-added and productivity metrics. In fact, for every hour worked, employed Irish people add $99.50 to national GDP.

The Full List

Below is the full list of all 60 innovative economies highlighted in the 2020 index.

RankCountryScoreYoY Ranking Change
#1Germany88.21+1
#2South Korea88.16-1
#3Singapore87.01+3
#4Switzerland85.670
#5Sweden85.50+2
#6Israel85.03-1
#7Finland84.00-4
#8Denmark83.22+3
#9U.S.83.17-1
#10France82.750
#11Austria82.40+1
#12Japan82.31-3
#13Netherlands81.28+2
#14Belgium79.93-1
#15China78.80+1
#16Ireland78.65-2
#17Norway76.930
#18UK76.030
#19Italy75.76+2
#20Australia74.13-1
#21Slovenia73.93+10
#22Canada73.11-2
#23Iceland71.560
#24Czech Republic70.00+1
#25Poland69.98-3
#26Russia68.63+1
#27Malaysia68.28-1
#28Hungary68.24+4
#29New Zealand68.08-5
#30Greece66.30+5
#31Luxembourg65.41-3
#32Romania65.25-3
#33Spain65.11-3
#34Portugal65.080
#35Turkey63.84-2
#36Estonia62.790
#37Latvia62.03+5
#38Lithuania61.97-1
#39Hong Kong61.70-1
#40Thailand60.360
#41Slovakia59.36-2
#42Bulgaria56.59-1
#43Croatia55.00+1
#44UAE54.31+2
#45Argentina53.78+5
#46Brazil53.65-1
#47Malta53.48-4
#48Cyprus51.560
#49Algeria51.24NA
#50South Africa51.15+1
#51Chile49.58+7
#52Tunisia49.560
#53Saudi Arabia49.54+3
#54India49.330
#55Qatar48.81+2
#56Ukraine48.24-3
#57Vietnam47.64+3
#58Egypt46.29NA
#59Kazakhstan46.10NA
#60Macao46.09NA

Highlights from the rest of the list include:

  • Slovenia improved the most by 10 places (to the #21 spot) thanks to its stronger patent activity.
  • New Zealand slid by 10 places to the 29th spot, falling for the third consecutive year.
  • Last but not least, four countries or jurisdictions made their debut onto the index in 2020: Algeria, Egypt, Kazakhstan, and Macao.

It’s clear that many countries are continuously pushing the envelope in order to maintain their competitiveness within the global economy—and constant innovation can provide a better life for their present and future populations.

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Mapped: The Top Podcasts on Spotify Across Countries

Podcasting is now a billion dollar industry, attracting big names and audiences to match. Here’s a global look at the top podcasts on Spotify.

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The Top Spotify Podcast Across Countries

We are amidst the breakout era of podcasts. Since the beginning of the smartphone revolution, the digital audio format has picked up serious traction with audiences all over. In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that there will be 132 million podcast listeners by 2022.

Today, there are 850,000 active podcasts available in 100 languages, with over 30 million episodes to tap into—perfect if you have an afternoon to yourself.

Worldwide Podcast Chart-Toppers

The data in this infographic comes from Spotify, the top global streaming service in the industry by paid users. How do the top podcasts fare on a per country basis?

CountryTop PodcastHonorable Mention (Second Highest)
CanadaThe Joe Rogan ExperienceCall Her Daddy
FranceChoses a SavoirMythes et Legendes
UKThe Michelle Obama PodcastThe Joe Rogan Experience
GermanyGemischtes HackFest & Flauschig
ItalyBlu Notte - Fisteri ItalianiMushio Selvaggio
U.S.The Michelle Obama PodcastCall Her Daddy
Japankemioの耳そうじクラブHapa英会話 Podcast
AustraliaFrom The NewsroomThe Joe Rogan Experience
IndiaThe Michelle Obama PodcastPurijagannadh
IrelandThe Joe Rogan ExperienceThe 2 Johnnies Podcast
MexicoLeyendas LegendariasLa Cotorrisa
New ZealandThe Joe Rogan ExperienceCall Her Daddy
ArgentinaConcha PodcastEntiende Tu Mente
AustriaVerbrechenFest & Flauschig
BrazilNerdCastCafé da Manha
ChileTomas Va A MorirMatriarcalmente Hablando
ColombiaDianaUribe.fmDani 3Palacios Podcast
DenmarkMorkelandHer Gar Det Godt
FinlandPOKSJaliila
IndonesiaRintik SeduPODKESMAS
NorwayFriminutt med Herman og MikkelG-punktet
PhilippinesSleeping Pill with InkaAdulting With Joyce Pring
PolandKryminatoriumJa I moje przyjaciółki idiotki
SpainNadie Sabe NadaEntiende Tu Mente
SwedenP3 DokumentarSommar & Vinter i P1
NetherlandsZelfspodcastMan man man, de podcast

Many of the top shows around the world follow a familiar interview or conversational format, but there are trends that deviate from that formula. In particular, there are a number of podcasts focused on health and wellness as well as current events.

The early beginnings of podcasting were dominated by upstart content creators, but as the market has matured, big media outlets and A-list personalities have been vying for listeners’ attention in an increasingly crowded field. As it stands now, two podcasts from America carry a large presence in foreign markets, and the two big personalities—Michelle Obama and Joe Rogan—stand a notch above the rest.

The Rogan-Obama tug of war in the podcast realm has had its back and forths. Obama pulled ahead in many countries in August, but in September the pendulum swung in favor of Rogan.

Follow The Money

In 2015, ad revenue in the podcast industry was a minuscule $69 million across the board. It’s expected to reach over $1 billion by 2021, and to grow further from there.

podcast industry revenue

The podcast boom is powered by younger generations, and both millennials and Gen Z represent a sizable portion of the total podcast audience globally. In particular, demographic listenership numbers experience a big drop after the 35-54 age bracket.

podcast audience by age group

Flexibility and variety are key features that are helping fuel the growth of the medium. One can keep up with serious world affairs or listen to Call Her Daddy—a podcast on sex and relationships by Barstool Sports, another podcast that frequently tops the charts.

Top Podcast Publishers by U.S. Audience

When it comes to key participants in the industry, National Public Radio (NPR) sits on the top spot with over 26 million unique monthly audience members. In close second, iHeartRadio holds a whopping 494 shows.

Podcast PublisherU.S. Unique Monthly AudienceGlobal Downloads & StreamsActive Shows
NPR26,933,000219,716,00049
iHeartRadio26,182,000234,417,000494
New York Times13,102,000145,961,00015
Barstool Sports10,228,00067,569,00043
PRX9,035,00082,245,00087
Wondery8,794,00057,261,00098
ESPN/ABC8,472,00066,685,00096
NBC News6,751,00044,219,00026
Cumulus Media/Westwood One6,473,00040,912,000115
Warner Media6,350,00033,503,000113
This American Life/Serial5,924,00022,722,0002
Kast Media5,319,00030,353,00046
Daily Wire5,212,000
43,342,0005
WNYC Studios5,209,00035,381,00052
All Things Comedy4,890,00028,770,00058
TED3,739,00051,696,00010
American Public Media3,362,00017,997,00050
Fox News Radio2,518,00013,633,00034
Slate1,951,00013,812,00097
WBUR1,105,0006,758,00018

If you’re bullish on podcasts, many in the top 20 are publicly traded entities who either stand alone, or are part of a larger corporation. Notable stocks include the New York Times, ESPN as part of Disney, and Warner Media as part of AT&T.

Spotify Today and Tomorrow

Spotify’s direct listing IPO was initially met with a lack of confidence, due to Big Tech’s entry in the space, as well as the profitability and monetization concerns that typically plague the music industry as a whole. However, the company has done well in abating those concerns, especially if you consider Spotify’s stock price, which has doubled in the last year. An impressive 21% of Spotify’s monthly active users engage with podcast content.

In addition, a wealth of personalities have entered the podcasting space. These big names suggest that the competition is dialing up.

In recent months, an exclusive deal between Spotify and Joe Rogan, valued at over $100 million took the podcasting world by storm. This is quite a monumental step for the podcast timeline, and one that suggests more deals could follow as Spotify looks to lock people into their platform with exclusivity deals.

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Here’s What Happens Every Minute on the Internet in 2020

A lot can happen in an internet minute. This graphic looks at the enormous numbers behind the online services billions use every day.

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What Happens Every Minute on the Internet in 2020

In 2020, an unfathomable amount of digital activity is occurring at any given moment. This ongoing explosion in activity is the aggregate output of 4.5 billion internet users today, a number that’s projected to increase even further in coming years.

This powerful visual from Domo helps capture what happens each minute in today’s hyper-connected internet era, and it’s actually the eighth edition produced since the year 2012.

What can we learn from the evolution of what happens in an internet minute?

How Times Have Changed

Over its relatively short history, the internet has been a catalyst for both the rise and demise of new companies and platforms.

By looking at which brands have appeared in the graphic in earlier years, we can roughly chart the prominence of certain tech segments, as well as observe brands with the most staying power.

data never sleeps wheel over time

As you can see above, platforms like Tumblr, Flickr, and Foursquare showed some promise, but eventually got omitted from the graphic as they dropped off in relevance.

Meanwhile, tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google have had impressive staying power, evolving to become some of the biggest companies in the world. In the process, they’ve caught up to longer-standing titans like Apple and Microsoft at the top of the food chain.

The New “New Thing”

Not surprisingly, much of the internet landscape looks different in 2020. Here are a few of the digital hot spots today.

Cash Transfers
Nearly $240,000 worth of transactions occur on Venmo per minute. This has served as a catalyst for parent company PayPal, which evolved along successfully with fintech trends. PayPal’s stock now trades at near all-time highs.

E-Commerce
Even before COVID-19 resulted in shuttered storefronts and surging online orders, e-commerce was a booming industry. It’s now estimated that $1 million is now spent per minute online. Amazon ships an astounding 6,659 packages every minute to keep up with this demand.

Collaboration Tools
In a predominantly remote-working environment, tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams host 208,333 and 52,083 users each minute respectively. Particularly in the pandemic era, it seems that this trend is here to stay.

Accelerated Turnover

The accelerated world we are in today means that many companies do not sustain a competitive advantage for as long. Social media companies have dwindled as observed above, and this is similarly reflected in the average lifespan of an S&P 500 company.

A typical company’s tenure on the S&P 500 is expected to shrink rapidly in the next few years:

  • 1964: 33 years
  • 2016: 24 years
  • 2027E: 12 years

Companies are shaving anywhere between 15-20 years off those highs, with estimates of further declines. This metric symbolizes the rapid evolution of the business landscape.

What Lies Ahead

It’s seemingly easy to forget mankind is still very early in the developments when it comes to the internet. But in this short period, its rise to prominence and the broad digitization of the world has left us with a very eventful timeline.

If the last decade serves as a reference point, one can expect further and intensifying competition among tech companies. After all, the reward—winning in today’s digital economy—reaps much greater value.

All signs point to internet activity advancing to further heights, if not because of 5G and its associated breakthroughs, then perhaps due to the steady rise in people gaining internet access.

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