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Ranked: The Most Innovative Economies in the World

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The Most Innovative Economies in the World

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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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Technology

Ranked: The Most Popular Paid Subscription News Websites

Many consumers are reluctant to pay for their news, but those that do turn to trusted sources. Here’s a look at the most subscribed to news websites.

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Ranked: The Most Popular Subscription News Websites

While paywalls are becoming increasingly more popular among news websites, most consumers still aren’t willing to pay for their online news.

In fact, a recent survey by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism reveals that only 20% of Americans pay for digital news, and of those that do, the majority subscribe to only one brand.

This begs the question—which news outlets are audiences willing to pay for?

Using data from FIPP and CeleraOne, this graphic looks at the most popular news websites across the globe, based on their total number of paid subscriptions.

*Note: This report relies on publicly available data, and should not be considered an exhaustive list.

The Full Breakdown

With 7.5 million subscriptions, The New York Times (NYT) takes the top spot on the list. 2020 was an exceptionally strong year for the outlet—by Q3 2020, the NYT had generated the same amount of revenue from digital subscriptions as it had for the entire year of 2019.

RankPublicationPaid Subscriptions
1🇺🇸 The New York Times7,500,000
2🇺🇸 The Washington Post3,000,000
3🇺🇸 The Wall Street Journal2,400,000
4🇺🇸 Game Informer2,100,000
5🇬🇧 Financial Times1,100,000
6🇺🇸 The Athletic1,000,000
7🇬🇧 The Guardian790,000
8🇯🇵 Nikkei769,000
9🇬🇧 The Economist516,000
10🇨🇳 Caixin510,000
11🇩🇪 Bild494,000
12🇬🇧 The Sunday Times337,000
13🇬🇧 The Telegraph320,000
14🇺🇸 The Atlantic300,000
15🇮🇹 Corriere Della Sera300,000
16🇫🇷 Le Monde300,000
17🇺🇸 The Boston Globe270,000
18🇦🇷 La Nacion260,000
19🇦🇷 Clarin260,000
20🇫🇷 L'equipe259,000
21🇺🇸 Los Angeles Times253,000
22🇸🇪 Aftonbladet250,000
23🇺🇸 The New Yorker240,000
24🇵🇱 Wyborcza240,000
25🇧🇷 Folha de S.Paulo236,000
26🇸🇪 Dagens Nyheter208,000
27🇺🇸 Business Insider200,000
28🇫🇷 Mediapart170,000
29🇳🇴 VG150,000
30🇺🇸 Wired142,000
31🇨🇦 The Globe and Mail139,000
32🇩🇪 Welt132,000
33🇳🇴 Aftenposten119,000
34🇫🇷 Le Figaro110,000
35🇺🇸 Chicago Tribune100,000
36🇺🇸 Star Tribune100,000
37🇳🇴 Dagbladet100,000
38🇫🇮 Helsingin Sanomat100,000

The Times is the most popular by a landslide—it has over double the number of subscriptions than the second outlet on the list, The Washington Post. Yet, while WaPo is no match for NYT, it still boasts a strong following, with approximately 3 million paid subscriptions as of Q4 2020.

Japanese outlet Nikkei ranks number one among the non-English news websites. It’s the largest business newspaper in Japan, mainly focusing on markets and finance, but also covering politics, sports, and health.

Legacy Papers: Which Websites Come From Traditional Media?

Most of the websites on this list stem from traditional media. Because of this, they’ve had years to establish themselves as trusted sources, and win over loyal readers.

Interestingly, more than half of the outlets included in this ranking are at least 100 years old.

PublicationYear LaunchedAge (Years)
🇬🇧 The Guardian1821200
🇬🇧 The Sunday Times1821200
🇫🇷 Le Figaro1826195
🇸🇪 Aftonbladet1830190
🇬🇧 The Economist1843178
🇺🇸 Chicago Tribune1847173
🇺🇸 NYT1852169
🇬🇧 The Telegraph1855166
🇺🇸 The Atlantic1857164
🇳🇴 Aftenposten1860160
🇸🇪 Dagens Nyheter1864157
🇺🇸 Star Tribune1867154
🇳🇴 Dagbladet1869152
🇦🇷 La Nacion1870151
🇺🇸 The Boston Globe1872149
🇮🇹 Corriere Della Sera1876145
🇺🇸 Washington Post1877144
🇯🇵 Nikkei.com1876144
🇺🇸 LA Times1881140
🇬🇧 Financial Times1888133
🇺🇸 Wall Street Journal1889132
🇫🇮 Helsingin Sanomat1889132
🇧🇷 Folha de S.Paulo1921100
🇺🇸 The New Yorker192596
🇨🇦 The Globe and Mail193685
🇫🇷 Le Monde194477
🇦🇷 Clarin194576
🇳🇴 VG194576
🇫🇷 L'equipe194675
🇩🇪 Welt194675
🇩🇪 Bild195269
🇵🇱 Wyborcza198932
🇺🇸 Game Informer199130
🇺🇸 Wired199328
🇺🇸 Business Insider200714
🇫🇷 Mediapart200813
🇨🇳 Caixin200912
🇺🇸 The Athletic20165

Yet, undeterred by these well-established outlets, a few scrappy websites made the cut despite a shorter history. Four out of the 38 websites are less than 20 years old.

The Athletic is the newest outlet to make the ranking. Established in 2016, the outlet’s target demographic is die-hard sports fans who miss the days of in-depth, quality sports writing.

The Need For Trusted Sources

Amidst the global pandemic, issues involving misinformation and fake news have helped reaffirm the important role that trusted news sources play in the dissemination of public information.

With this in mind, it’ll be interesting to see what the future holds for digital media consumption. With paywalls becoming increasingly more common, will consumers jump on board and eventually be more willing to pay for their news?

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Energy

Visualizing the Power Consumption of Bitcoin Mining

Bitcoin mining requires significant amounts of energy, but what does this consumption look like when compared to countries and companies?

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Visualizing the Power Consumption of Bitcoin Mining

Cryptocurrencies have been some of the most talked-about assets in recent months, with bitcoin and ether prices reaching record highs. These gains were driven by a flurry of announcements, including increased adoption by businesses and institutions.

Lesser known, however, is just how much electricity is required to power the Bitcoin network. To put this into perspective, we’ve used data from the University of Cambridge’s Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (CBECI) to compare Bitcoin’s power consumption with a variety of countries and companies.

Why Does Bitcoin Mining Require So Much Power?

When people mine bitcoins, what they’re really doing is updating the ledger of Bitcoin transactions, also known as the blockchain. This requires them to solve numerical puzzles which have a 64-digit hexadecimal solution known as a hash.

Miners may be rewarded with bitcoins, but only if they arrive at the solution before others. It is for this reason that Bitcoin mining facilities—warehouses filled with computers—have been popping up around the world.

These facilities enable miners to scale up their hashrate, also known as the number of hashes produced each second. A higher hashrate requires greater amounts of electricity, and in some cases can even overload local infrastructure.

Putting Bitcoin’s Power Consumption Into Perspective

On March 18, 2021, the annual power consumption of the Bitcoin network was estimated to be 129 terawatt-hours (TWh). Here’s how this number compares to a selection of countries, companies, and more.

NamePopulation Annual Electricity Consumption (TWh)
China1,443M6,543
United States330.2M3,989
All of the world’s data centers-205
State of New York19.3M161
Bitcoin network -129 
Norway5.4M124
Bangladesh165.7M70
Google-12
Facebook-5
Walt Disney World Resort (Florida)-1

Note: A terawatt hour (TWh) is a measure of electricity that represents 1 trillion watts sustained for one hour.
Source: Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, Science Mag, New York ISO, Forbes, Facebook, Reedy Creek Improvement District, Worldometer

If Bitcoin were a country, it would rank 29th out of a theoretical 196, narrowly exceeding Norway’s consumption of 124 TWh. When compared to larger countries like the U.S. (3,989 TWh) and China (6,543 TWh), the cryptocurrency’s energy consumption is relatively light.

For further comparison, the Bitcoin network consumes 1,708% more electricity than Google, but 39% less than all of the world’s data centers—together, these represent over 2 trillion gigabytes of storage.

Where Does This Energy Come From?

In a 2020 report by the University of Cambridge, researchers found that 76% of cryptominers rely on some degree of renewable energy to power their operations. There’s still room for improvement, though, as renewables account for just 39% of cryptomining’s total energy consumption.

Here’s how the share of cryptominers that use each energy type vary across four global regions.

Energy SourceAsia-PacificEuropeLatin America
and the Caribbean
North America
Hydroelectric65%60%67%61%
Natural gas38%33%17%44%
Coal65%2%0%28%
Wind23%7%0%22%
Oil12%7%33%22%
Nuclear12%7%0%22%
Solar12%13%17%17%
Geothermal8%0%0%6%

Source: University of Cambridge
Editor’s note: Numbers in each column are not meant to add to 100%

Hydroelectric energy is the most common source globally, and it gets used by at least 60% of cryptominers across all four regions. Other types of clean energy such as wind and solar appear to be less popular.

Coal energy plays a significant role in the Asia-Pacific region, and was the only source to match hydroelectricity in terms of usage. This can be largely attributed to China, which is currently the world’s largest consumer of coal.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge noted that they weren’t surprised by these findings, as the Chinese government’s strategy to ensure energy self-sufficiency has led to an oversupply of both hydroelectric and coal power plants.

Towards a Greener Crypto Future

As cryptocurrencies move further into the mainstream, it’s likely that governments and other regulators will turn their attention to the industry’s carbon footprint. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however.

Mike Colyer, CEO of Foundry, a blockchain financing provider, believes that cryptomining can support the global transition to renewable energy. More specifically, he believes that clustering cryptomining facilities near renewable energy projects can mitigate a common issue: an oversupply of electricity.

“It allows for a faster payback on solar projects or wind projects… because they would [otherwise] produce too much energy for the grid in that area”
– Mike Colyer, CEO, Foundry

This type of thinking appears to be taking hold in China as well. In April 2020, Ya’an, a city located in China’s Sichuan province, issued a public guidance encouraging blockchain firms to take advantage of its excess hydroelectricity.

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