Which is The Most Innovative Country in the World?

If you’re thinking about relocating for work, one of the factors you should consider is a country’s ability to innovate: innovative countries are invariably successful countries.  Gone are the days when countries could ‘survive’ with limited amounts of innovation: if a country cannot compete on price, it will need to be innovative, developing innovative technologies and products to enhance its chances of success. Innovation is also key to the advancement of societies: innovative technologies can increase people’s standard of living, providing them with opportunities to improve their lives.

See also: Millennials believe innovation can have a positive impact on society

So which are the most innovative countries in the world?  Below are the ten most innovative countries in the world, based on an analysis by Bloomberg.  The company used a number of metrics, shown below, to compile its list and crunched their scores to produce a total score for every country from 0 to 100.

Below are the variables used (source: Bloomberg.) to compile the data

  • R&D intensity – how much each company spends on R&D as a percentage of the country’s GDP
  • High –value manufacturing
  • High –tech companies – the total number of “high tech” companies such as aerospace and defence, internet software and services as a percentage of the total number of high-tech public listed companies in the world
  • Post-secondary education – the percentage of  “secondary graduates”; the percentage of the working population with tertiary degrees; the number of science and engineering graduates each year as a percentage of the labour force; and the percentage of the total number of tertiary graduates.
  • Research workers – professionals working in R&D per million of the population
  • Patent activity – patent filings per one million of the population and per $1 million of research and development spend; the number of patents awarded as a percentage of the total number of patents awarded worldwide

Bloomberg analysed over 200 countries, of which only 69 had data for all the variables evaluated. Its ranking used the most recent data available. It has published data for the top 50 countries, and you can have a look at the complete list Bloomberg.. According to the data, South Korea is the most innovative country in the world. But which other countries make the top ten?

The Most Innovative Countries In The World (Top 10)


  • R&D: R&D intensity rank
  • HVM: High-value manufacturing rank
  • HTE: High-tech enterprises rank
  • PSE: Post-secondary education rank
  • RW: Research personnel rank
  • PA: Patent activity rank
Country Total Score R&D HVM HTE PSE RW PA Overall Rank
South Korea 96.30 1 7 4 1 7 1 1
Japan 90.58 5 8 3 29 10 2 2
Germany 88.41 7 4 9 17 16 5 3
Finland 88.38 3 12 25 3 1 13 4
Israel 86.97 2 21 11 4 4 31 5
United States 86.92 11 10 1 33 19 4 6
Sweden 86.52 4 6 12 15 9 20 7
Singapore 84.92 17 3 16 7 5 28 8
France 84.66 14 23 8 10 20 9 9
United Kingdom 83.90 22 26 6 11 17 7 10


Takeaway: Innovation is The Key to Success

South Korea’s development over the last half century has been nothing short of spectacular.” – Foreign Affairs

South Korea, clinching the most innovative award, invests heavily in research and development and in post-secondary education; it also has the highest score for patent activity, all of which contribute to its overall score of 96.30.

According to an article in Foreign Affairs, South Korea’s economy has increased by a staggering 7% annually over fifty years, contracting in only two years over this period. Once belittled as an “emerging nation”, South Korea is now anything but: it is officially the most innovative country in the world, technologically rich “with an impressive record of economic reform, sound leadership and mature democracy”.

Are you surprised by South Korea’s dominance here? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

Foreign Affairs