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  20 Sep 2021, 19:58

Pandemic speeds innovation shift to Asia: UN

  GENEVA, Sept 20, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - The Covid-19 pandemic sped up the shift 
of innovation from Europe and North America towards Asia, UN world rankings 
showed Monday.

   The Global Innovation Index 2021, from the United Nations' World 
Intellectual Property Organization, showed surging performances by South 
Korea and China.

   "The pandemic has accelerated the long-term geographical shift of 
innovation activities toward Asia, even if Northern America and Europe 
continue to host some of the world's leading innovators," said WIPO.

   While the top four in the global rankings remained the same as last year -
- with Switzerland leading for the 11th year running followed by Sweden, the 
United States and Britain -- South Korea leapt five places to fifth.

   The index found "substantial increases in brand values in Korea, in 
trademarks being filed, but also in cultural and creative services exports," 
index co-editor Sacha Wunsch-Vincent told reporters, citing the K-Pop 
phenomenon.

   The Netherlands, Finland, Singapore, Denmark and Germany round out the top 
10.

   Meanwhile China continued its progress towards the top 10 and is still the 
only middle-income economy in the top 30, up two places to number 12.

   Wunsch-Vincent said the country's innovation players were individually 
strong and China was now trying to connect them better "so that public 
research feeds into commercial innovation".

   Turkey (41), Vietnam (44), India (46) and the Philippines (51) are the 
only other middle-income nations that are systematically catching up.

   "Beyond China, these four particularly large economies together have the 
potential to change the global innovation landscape for good," WIPO said.

   The index ranks 132 economies. Among low income countries, Rwanda leads 
the way in 102nd place, ahead of Tajikistan (103) and Malawi (107). 

   WIPO's index found that countries and businesses increased investments in 
innovation despite the Covid-19 crisis, in a bid to stimulate post-pandemic 
economic growth.

   Scientific output, research and development, IP filings and venture 
capital deals continued to grow in 2020.

   Companies whose innovations revolved around measures to contain the 
pandemic and its effects -- particularly pharmaceuticals and information 
technology -- redoubled their innovation investments.

   However, sectors hit hard by coronavirus restrictions, such as travel, cut 
back.

   "Many sectors have shown remarkable resilience -- especially those that 
have embraced digitalisation, technology and innovation," said WIPO director 
general Daren Tang.

   "As the world looks to rebuild from the pandemic, we know that innovation 
is integral to overcoming the common challenges that we face."

   Wunsch-Vincent highlighted that beyond top research and development 
spenders such as Australia, Germany, Japan and the United States, which all 
increased investments, "seven out of 10 economies still devote less than one 
percent of GDP to R&D".
 

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