Global Innovation: South Korea is top of Bloomberg's list

By Nicole Miskelly | 17 February 2015

At the beginning of the year Bloomberg released their 2015 Global Innovation Index which compared 50 of the world’s most innovative countries and listed South Korea as number one.

The report focused on six tangible activities that contribute to innovation, including the number of high-tech companies, R&D expenditure per capita, gross value added by manufacturing, the number of patents and research personnel per capita and post-secondary education levels.

The top five countries were listed as:

1. South Korea
2. Japan
3. Germany
4. Finland
5. Israel

The US came in sixth place, which is three places down from its listing in 2014 and five down from the 2013 index, where the US was listed as number one. Although the US has the highest number of high-tech companies, beating China, it did not measure up in the areas of number of patents per capita, number of R&D expenditure per capita and post-secondary education levels, all areas that South Korea exceled in.

The UK came tenth, which is six places up from its ranking in the 2014 index and also ranked quite highly in the area of high-tech companies but failed to meet post-secondary education levels.

What makes the top five countries so innovative?

South Korea is already home to a number of advanced technologies and high-tech companies (it ranked fourth in the Global Innovation Index), however, strict regulations mean that its fintech industry is lagging behind other countries such as the US. This is set to change because as bobsguide reported at the beginning of the year, the South Korean government plans to boost the country’s weakening financial system by investing more in the fintech sector this year.

According to the index, South Korea does lead in the areas of R&D expenditure per capita and the number of patents per capita which the reports says is largely down to South Korean tech giant Samsung. Finland and Israel also rank highly in the area of research personnel per capita which help them get into the top five. Germany leads in the area of gross value added by manufacturing and Japan scored highly in the number of patents per capita and high-tech companies.

The Bloomberg report indicates that investing in areas such as research and development and education contributes more to the development of innovation in countries, than the number of high-tech companies that a country has.