Innovation: a driver of economic growth and prosperity

Aiming to recognize the key role of innovation as a driver of economic growth and prosperity, and the need for a broad horizontal vision of innovation applicable to developed and emerging...

Reading time: 4 min
Lourdes Tejedor / @madrid2day

Telefónica Public Policy & Telefónica España Regulatory teams

Aiming to recognize the key role of innovation as a driver of economic growth and prosperity, and the need for a broad horizontal vision of innovation applicable to developed and emerging economies, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), INSEAD and Cornell University have published this month the Global Innovation Index 2013 (GII 2013), which includes indicators that go beyond the traditional measures of innovation such as the level of research and development.

The GII 2013

The GII 2013 ranks 142 countries on the basis of their innovation capabilities and their ability to make use of their innovations with measurable results – measuring 84 indicators including the quality of top universities, availability of microfinance and venture capital deals.

The GII is calculated as the average of the following two sub-indices:

  1. The Innovation Input Sub-Index, which gauges the innovation capacity of a certain country through the assessment of its institutions (including the political and regulatory environment, but also the business environment), human capital and research (including education, tertiary education and R&D), infrastructure (general infrastructure, ICTs and ecological sustainability), market sophistication (including credit, investment and trade & competition), and business sophistication (knowledge workers, innovation linkage and knowledge absorption).
  2. The Innovation Output Sub-Index, which presents actual evidence of innovation results through the analysis of knowledge and technology outputs (knowledge creation, impact and diffusion) and creative outputs (intangibles, goods and services, and online creativity).


  • A persistent innovation divide exists: on average, high-income countries outpace developing countries by a wide margin across the board in terms of scores. As last year, high income economies dominate the list this year too: Switzerland and Sweden continue as #1 and #2 countries whereas the United Kingdom rises from the 5th to the 3rd place. The other 7 countries that make up the top ten 2013 ranking are the following: Netherlands (4), United States of America (5), Finland (6), Hong Kong (China) (7), Singapore (8), Denmark (9) and Ireland (10). A group of dynamic middle- and low-income countries – including China, Costa Rica, India, and Senegal – have increased their innovation capabilities and outputs but they haven’t broken into the top of the GII 2013 leader board.
  • By and large, Latin America is the region that has seen the most significant improvement in GII rankings, with Costa Rica taking the lead regional position. The leaders by regions are the following:

– Switzerland in Europe,

– USA in Northern America,

– Hong Kong (China) in South East Asia and Oceania,

– Israel in Northern Africa and Western Asia,

– Costa Rica in Latin America and the Caribbean,

– India in Central and Southern Asia,

– Mauritius in Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Original innovation eco-systems have emerged: “this year’s report casts additional light on the local dynamics of innovation, an area which has remained under-measured globally. It shows the emergence of original innovation eco-systems, and signals a needed shift from a usual tendency to try and duplicate previously successful initiatives.”
  • Despite the economic crisis, innovation is alive and well: “research and development spending levels are surpassing 2008 levels in most countries and successful local hubs are thriving.”

GII’s advice to overcome the global innovation divide

Local dynamics are key to overcome the global innovation divide: “too many innovation strategies have been focused on trying to replicate previous successes elsewhere, like Silicon Valley in California. However, fostering local innovation requires strategies that should be deeply rooted in local comparative advantages, history and culture. They should be combined with a global approach to reach out to foreign markets, and attract overseas talent.”

If you wish to see the detailed results and analysis, have a look at the full report here.

In regards to Telefónica, we are committed to innovation and you can find many examples on this blog. We share the GII’s view on the key role of innovation as a driver of economic growth and prosperity. As an example, the collaboration agreement that Telefónica I+D and the Ministry of Economy of Israel have signed this month to work together on researching and developing new technologies. This agreement consolidates Telefónica’s commitment to working with the leaders who are currently leading the way in innovation, as is the case of Israel.

Last but not least, Telefónica is leading many other initiatives to boost innovation, such as Wayra, Amérigo, INNVIERTE Programme or the Patent Club among others.


Contact our communication department or requests additional material.

Telefónica Centenary logo Celebrate with us the Telefónica Centenary