The most innovative countries in the world in 2022

The most innovative countries in the world 2022

Since 2000, global investment in research and development (R&D) has tripled to $2.4 trillion.

R&D spending also casts a wider global net. In 1960, the United States accounted for nearly 70% of global R&D spending, and by 2020 that percentage had fallen to 30%. From job creation and public health to national security and industrial competitiveness, R&D plays a vital role in a country’s economic growth and innovation, impacting nearly every corner of society, directly or indirectly.

Besides R&D expenditure, other key ingredients play an important role in progress and innovation. These include technology adoption, scientific research and venture capital activities.

The infographic above ranks the world’s most innovative economies using UN data WIPO Global Innovation Index.

What defines an innovative economy?

Innovation is inherently difficult to quantify, but the Global Innovation Index is a long-standing attempt to do just that.

The framework used for the index was designed to create a more comprehensive analysis, including 81 indicators in seven categories to calculate a country’s score:

7 categories Examples of indicators
๐Ÿงณ Business Refinement Business R&D expenditure, net foreign direct investment inflows
๐Ÿ“ˆ Market sophistication GDP size of the economy, intensity of competition in the local market
๐Ÿ›ฃ๏ธ Infrastructure Road, hospital, school construction, energy efficiency
๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿซ Human Capital & Research Public funding per student, quality of science and research institutions
๐Ÿ›๏ธ Establishments Political stability and security, ease of business creation
๐Ÿ’ก Creative outings Most Valuable Trademarks, Industrial Design Applications, Trademark Applications
๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ’ป Knowledge and Technology Outputs Patent applicationsincrease in labor productivity, spending on software

As shown in the table above, the framework aims to identify indicators that promote an innovative environment and advanced technologies.

It should be noted that each country’s overall innovation score is a mix of these categories, and countries with similar scores may be strong in different areas.

The 50 most innovative countries in 2022

Switzerland ranks at the topโ  for the 12th consecutive year, ahead of the United States, South Korea and Israel.

For many, this may come as a surprise. However, the country’s intellectual property rules are considered world-class and they are complemented by close collaboration between universities and industry. Moreover, the country attracts the best talents thanks to its high quality of life.

In second place is the United States, which spends the most on R&D with more than 700 billion dollars per year. Globally, four of the top five R&D spenders are in America: Amazon ($42.7 billion), Alphabet ($27.6 billion), Microsoft ($19.3 billion), and Apple ($18.8 billion).

Rank Country / Region Score
1 ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ Switzerland 64.6
2 ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฒ US 61.8
3 ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช Sweden 61.6
4 ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง United Kingdom 59.7
5 ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Netherlands 58.0
6 ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท South Korea 57.8
seven ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Singapore 57.3
8 ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany 57.2
9 ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Finland 56.9
ten ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark 55.9
11 ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China 55.3
12 ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡งFrance 55.0
13 ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan 53.6
14 ๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Hong Kong 51.8
15 ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada 50.8
16 ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Israel 50.2
17 ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น Austria 50.2
18 ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ช Estonia 50.2
19 ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡บ Luxemburg 49.8
20 ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ธ Iceland 49.5
21 ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡น Malta 49.1
22 ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ด Norway 48.8
23 ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช Ireland 48.5
24 ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ New Zealand 47.2
25 ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia 47.1
26 ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช Belgium 46.9
27 ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ Cyprus 46.2
28 ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy 46.1
29 ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain 44.6
30 ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Czech Republic 42.8
31 ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ช United Arab Emirates 42.1
32 ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡น Portugal 42.1
33 ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Slovenia 40.6
34 ๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บ Hungary 39.8
35 ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฌ Bulgaria 39.5
36 ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พ Malaysia 38.7
37 ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท Turkey 38.1
38 ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ Poland 37.5
39 ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡น Lithuania 37.4
40 ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ India 36.6
41 ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ป Latvia 36.5
42 ๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท Croatia 35.6
43 ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ Thailand 34.9
44 ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท Greece 34.5
45 ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡บ Mauritius 34.4
46 ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Slovakia 34.3
47 ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia 34.3
48 ๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ณ Vietnam 34.3
49 ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ด Romania 34.1
50 ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Chile 34.0

Countries in Europe also feature prominently in the top 10, including Sweden (#3), the UK (#4) and the Netherlands (#5).

South Korea (#6), is known for its high R&D intensity. This is driven by its industrial conglomerates, known as chaebols, which are usually family run. Samsung and LG are among its largest companies, known for their high degree of collaboration between business and academia.

Below, we’ll take a closer look at the most innovative countries by region.

North America

In North America, the United States ranks first. The country has long been known as a global innovation leader, with a strong track record of introducing new ideas and technologies that have transformed the way we live and work. The United States ranks first on a number of indicators, including university-industry R&D collaboration and intangible asset intensity.

Canada ranks second in the region (world ranking: 15th). Across all countries, it ranks first in measures of joint ventures and strategic alliances per billion dollars of GDP (PPP) and number of venture capital (VC) recipients per billion dollars of GDP (PPP). ). In 2021, venture capital investments exceeded $14.7 billion out of 752 transactions.

Another interesting example is Honduras (#113). Stimulating innovation in the country is a new economic zoning experience called Economic Development and Employment Zones (ZEDE).

To date, these zones have attracted around a quarter of a billion dollars in private investment and created thousands of new jobs.

South America

Chile (#50) ranks first in the region, thanks to its promising technology sector. To date, it houses approximately 8,000 technology companies. The country also has the largest scale of mobile connectivity in the region. At the end of 2021, it launched the first 5G network in South America.

Most Innovative Countries South America

After Chile, it is Brazil (#54)which saw a record number of IPOs in 2021, valued at nearly $7 billion.

Middle East and Central Asia

As the top country in the region, Israel (#16) is the only country in the world that spends more than 5% of GDP on R&D. Overall, it is a world leader in patent applications and exports of information and communication technology (ICT) services.

For context, the density of start-ups per capita in the country is 16 times higher than in Europe.

Most Innovative Countries in the Middle East and Central Asia

The small island nation of Cyprus (No. 27) follows in second place, buoyed by government funding focused on start-ups. Meanwhile, Turkey (#37) in third place is home to six unicorns*, favored by its development of a megatech corridor from Istanbul to Izmir.

* A unicorn is a private startup with a valuation of more than $1 billion.


With 15 of the top 25 economies in the world, Europe is a driving force for the promotion of innovative ecosystems.

The continent is also a leader in social progress, equality and life satisfaction. The region scores 30 on inequality according to the Gini index against 41 for America.

Most Innovative Countries in Europe

For many, tech production isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when they think of Europe, but venture capital deals have surged 53% in 2021. London, Berlin and Paris were the main cities for venture capital activity.

East Asia and Oceania

South Korea (#6) ranks first in East Asia and Oceania, and has established itself as a technology and innovation leader on the global stage. Through its New Deal initiative, the government is spearheading projects on smart healthcare, AI and smart industrial complexes. At the same time, it is accelerating the construction of environmentally friendly infrastructure and renewable energies.

South Korean Hyundai and its subsidiary Kia have achieved considerable land in the production of electric vehicles (EV), including 9% of the US electric vehicle market, the second highest share after Tesla.

East Asia's Most Innovative Countries

China sits just outside the global top 10 and now ranks first in several indicators, including labor productivity growth and brands by origin. China’s economic output per employed worker grew 4.2% annually from 2011 to 2019, on average.


Highest ranked in Africa is the island nation of Mauritius (#45).

The solidity of its institutions and the sophistication of its market underline its rank. Meanwhile, the government is accelerating investment in technology incubators, research-business collaboration, and tax incentives for R&D investment.

Africa's Most Innovative Countries

South Africa (#61) follows Mauritius on the list, with Cape Town attracting a candidate $300 million Headquarters of Amazon.

Panasonic opened its headquarters in Cape Town in 2018. Oracle, IBM, Google and Microsoft also have offices in the country’s expanding tech hub.

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