South Africa has been ranked the 51st most innovative economy in the world – and the most innovative country Africa, according to new a global innovation index.
The Global Innovation Index 2018 placed SA three places above fellow BRICS member India in 54th place, and six places below Brazil in 45th.
Bloomberg Innovation Index. Now in its seventh year, analyses dozens of criteria using seven metrics – including research and development spending, manufacturing capability and concentration of high-tech public companies.
The 2019 ranking process began with more than 200 economies. Each was scored on a 0-100 scale based on seven equally weighted categories. Nations that didn’t report data for at least six categories were eliminated, trimming the total list to 95.
The ranking comes as global elites gathered this week at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
South Korea retained the global crown in the 2019 Bloomberg Innovation index, though improvements by Germany in research and education brought Europe’s largest economy to near-parity in the annual ranking. Germany was ranked second, while Finland, Switzerland and Israel were ranked 3rd, 4th and 5th most innovative countries in the world respectively.
“Innovation is becoming increasingly important to drive economic performance, particularly in the higher-income Asian economies where there is no longer a demographic dividend and higher value-added manufacturing assembly is being shifted to lower-cost countries in the region,” Goh said
Notably, South Africa remains the only Sub-Saharan nation to be ranked.
South Africa placed 51st on the list – falling three places from 48th in 2018.
The country stood out for its ‘patent activity‘ which was ranked at 21 in the world.
Bloomberg calculated this activity based on resident patent filings, total patent grants, patents per population, filings per GDP and total grants awarded as a share of the world’s total.
According to Bloomberg, South Africa also stands out for its ‘high-tech density‘ which was ranked as the 35th highest in the world.
Bloomberg defined this density as the number of domestically domiciled high-tech public companies as a percentage of domestic publicly listed companies and as a share of the world’s total public high-tech companies.
On the other end of the scale, South Africa was one of the lowest-ranked countries when it comes to ‘tertiary efficiency‘ which looks at total enrollment at tertiary institutions, graduation levels, and how many science/engineering graduates a country has.
The country also performed poorly in the ‘researcher concentration‘ metric which measures the number of professionals in the country who are currently engaged in research and development.