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Singapore slips to 8th position in global innovation index

SINGAPORE remains top of the list for innovation among Asian economies in the 2019 Global Innovation Index (GII). Globally, however, it slipped three notches from last year to place eighth due to poorer results in innovation input. 

The annual ranking by Cornell University, Insead and the World Intellectual Property Organization surveys 126 economies based on 80 indicators ranging from intellectual property filing rates to mobile-application creation, education spending and scientific and technical publications.

In terms of innovation input, which includes criteria such as the quality of human capital and research, the Republic saw a significant decrease in the global research and development (R&D) companies indicator. This was largely due to the relocation of technology hardware and equipment company Broadcom, Singapore's largest R&D spender until last year.

Among other criteria, the report noted that Singapore performed relatively weaker when it came to e-participation, information and communications technology use, and environmental certificates that meet international standards. It also lost several ranks in the areas of females employed with advanced degrees, foreign direct investment inflows and intellectual property payments. 

Despite that, it managed to keep its top spot for innovation input and came in 15th for innovation output, which takes into consideration aspects like patent applications and business model creations. 

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"Continued efforts made in Singapore around education and innovation are bound to improve the country's output score in the future," said Bruno Lanvin, executive director for Global Indices at Insead and co-author of the GII in a media statement.  

However, Singapore saw improvements in other areas. It emerged the top performer in tertiary inbound mobility, knowledge-intensive employment and joint venture-strategic alliances deals. 

It also remains ahead of other economies in terms of government stability and effectiveness, and for tertiary education, said Mr Lanvin. 

Meanwhile, Switzerland – which ranked first globally since 2011– took the top spot again this year, followed by Sweden, the United States, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. This year also saw Israel entering the top 10 for the first time where it achieved notable results in mobile app creation and patent families. 

The report pointed out that while innovation was able to withstand the pressures of economic slowdown, an innovation gap still persists where the top-performing economies are almost exclusively high-income countries. 

According to the report, there is a positive correlation between an economy's level of development and innovation performance. In other words, wealthier economies tend to perform better on innovation. 

But China is closing the gap as it remains the top middle-income economy for the quality of innovation, performing above high-income economies in terms of quality of universities and quality of scientific publications. It edged into 14th place this year, becoming the only middle-income economy in the top 30. 

Aside from China, Malaysia and Thailand are also among the middle-income economies that are bridging the innovation divide.

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