Photo:iHub, an innovation and business space for the technology community in Kenya.
15 June 2017
Innovation is a key development tool that could boost economies and provide a way out of the growing squeeze on the world's food resources – one of the major challenges of the 21st century – according to a new United Nations report.
“Innovation is the engine of economic growth in an increasingly knowledge-based global economy, but more investment is needed to help boost human creativity and economic output,” said Francis Gurry, Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and co-author of the 10th edition of the Global Innovation Index (GII): Innovation feeding the World.
With an eye on how creativity in agriculture and the food sector is helping to feed the world – one of the major challenges of the 21st century – WIPO points out that innovation is key to sustaining the productivity growth required to meet the rising demand and to helping enhance the networks that integrate the sustainable food production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste management known as food systems.
According to the UN agency, rich countries continue to dominate global innovation in terms of most new products and services, with Switzerland at the top for the seventh year running and high-income economies taking 24 of the top 25 spots – China is the exception at 22, moving up three places in the last 12 months.
“Innovation can help transform the current economic upswing into longer-term growth,” noted Mr. Gurry.
A total of 17 economies comprise the 'innovation achievers' this year, with nine from the Sub-Saharan Africa region and three from Eastern Europe.
Key findings show the rise of India as an emerging innovation centre in Asia, high innovation performance in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya and Rwanda and an opportunity to improve innovation capacity in Latin America and the Caribbean – with Chile, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina showing particular strengths in institutions, infrastructure and business sophistication.
Next to innovation powerhouses such as China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, a group of Asian economies including Indonesia, the Philippines and Viet Nam – dubbed by WIPO as the "new Asian tigers" – are actively working to improve their innovation ecosystems and rank high in a number of important indicators related to education, productivity growth and high-tech exports, among others.
Innovation Feeding the World
The theme of the GII 2017, 'Innovation Feeding the World,' spotlights innovation carried out in agriculture and food systems. Over the next decades, these sectors will face an enormous rise in global demand and increased competition for limited natural resources, in addition to adapting to climate change.
The report underscores that innovation is key to sustaining the necessary productivity growth to help enhance networks that integrate the sustainable food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management known as food systems.
Each year, the GII surveys some 130 economies using dozens of metrics, from patent filings to education spending providing decision makers a high-level look at the innovative activity that increasingly drives economic and social growth. For the last ten years, it has observed an innovative capacity gap between developed and developing nations and lacklustre growth rates for research and development activities at both the government and corporate levels.