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SPECIAL REPORT

UAE tops in innovation in Middle East

Dubai, July 21, 2014

The UAE ranked first among the countries of the Middle East in terms of overall performance in the 2014 Global Innovation Index, which was released today.

Switzerland remains the leader worldwide for the fourth consecutive year. The United Kingdom moves up a rank to second place, followed by Sweden. A new entry into the top 10 this year is Luxembourg (9th).

The index is published by Cornell University and the European Institute for Business Administration Insead and the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Top ten 2014 rankings are: 1. Switzerland (Number 1 in 2013); 2. United Kingdom (3); 3. Sweden (2); 4. Finland (6); 5. Netherlands (4); 6. United States (5); 7. Singapore (8); 8. Denmark (9); 9. Luxembourg (12); 10. Hong Kong (China) (7).

These GII leaders have created well-linked innovation ecosystems, where investments in human capital combined with strong innovation infrastructures contribute to high levels of creativity.

In particular, the top 25 countries in the GII consistently score high in most indicators and have strengths in areas such as innovation infrastructure, including information and communication technologies; business sophistication such as knowledge workers, innovation linkages, and knowledge absorption; and innovation outputs such as creative goods and services and online creativity, the survey said.

Global Innovation Index - MENA rankings are: 1. United Arab Emirates (world ranking 36); 2. Saudi Arabia (38); 3. Qatar    (47); 4. Bahrain (62); 5. Jordan    (64); 6. Kuwait (69) 7. Oman (75) 8. Lebanon (77); 9. Tunisia (78); 10. Morocco (84); 11. Egypt    (99); 12. Iran (120); 13. Algeria    (133); 14. Yemen (141).

Du hosted the Middle East and North Africa launch conference of the 2014 Global Innovation Index in the UAE, in the presence Mohammed Al Gergawi, Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs, who delivered the opening speech of the conference.

Al Gergawi noted in his opening speech that the Arab world, and the UAE in particular, formed a historical hub for innovation, and said: "The UAE was founded on the principles of innovation, creativity and knowledge, as suitably demonstrated by the latest initiative, the launch of Emirates Space Agency recently by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, which is the first Arab and Islamic project to send a probe to Mars."

The GII 2014 studies 143 economies around the world, using 81 indicators to gauge both their innovation capabilities and measurable results. Published annually since 2007, the GII is now a leading benchmarking tool for business executives, policy makers and others seeking insight into the state of innovation around the world.

Amid a newly documented slowdown in the growth of global research and development, the theme of the Global Innovation Index 2014 is “The Human Factor in Innovation,” exploring the role of human capital in the innovation process and underlining the growing interest that firms and governments have shown in identifying and energizing creative individuals and teams.

“Innovation is a major contributor to economic growth and the key to economic success in a global economy, as well as the source of competitive advantage for industries and companies,” said WIPO director general Francis Gurry.  He added: “Countries in the Middle East are recognising the importance of innovation. They are seeking to diversify their economies away from natural resources and towards knowledge intensive industries.”

The Human Factor
This year’s report highlights how the human factor of innovation largely explains which innovation champions remain at the top, and why some of the large emerging economies offer divergent innovation performances. A closer look at a collection of indicators that focus on education as a subset of human capital formation helps understand differences in innovation performance across regions and income groups.

Analysis of the GII results shows that the human factor is even more critical for innovation success in higher-income economies than in lower-income economies. It is likely that better educated citizens are more successful in higher-income economies in leveraging the favourable contexts (in business and markets) for driving innovation. It also suggests that, as a country moves up the scale of innovation sophistication, the quality of its talents (in science, engineering, but also in business and management for example) become even more critical.

Bruno Lanvin, executive director for global indices at Insead, and co-author of the report, stresses that ‘The talent dimension of innovation is particularly critical for Mena countries, whose young populations will require massive job creations in the years to come. Reliance on ‘imported skills’ (from expats and consultants) needs to diminish rapidly if those countries want to be able to generate a sustainable flow of local innovation. In this context, education is key. While countries like Tunisia (25th in tertiary education), Lebanon (26th), and to some extent Oman (32nd) have traditionally scored high on tertiary education, and the spectacular results registered this year by the UAE and Qatar (respectively 1st and 9th) reflect the high priority they provided to education over the last decade.’

Soumitra Dutta, Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean, professor of management, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, and co-author of the report, said: “The United Arab Emirates has become the top performer in the Northern Africa and Western Asia region, outperforming its peers in many key dimensions of innovation. Although the region has to do more to achieve its full potential, regional stars such as United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia continue to move up in the rankings and closer to the top innovation economies.”  

Osman Sultan, CEO, du, commented: “With a visionary leadership and continued investments in education, fostering avenues of growth and development, it is not surprising that the UAE leads region in key innovation parameters, The continued progression of the UAE in the GII rankings is proof positive of national efforts to bolster innovation-driven sustainable growth. There are three areas in which the country has demonstrated significant growth:  Human Capital and Research, Infrastructure, and Country Institutions, which are the key pillars to fostering a connected society. Investing in these areas will empower business acumen and facilitate a knowledge-based economy, powered by connectedness.”

The GII 2014 confirms the persistence of global innovation divides. Among the top 10 and top 25, rankings have changed but the list of economies remains unaltered. A difficult-to-bridge divide exists where less-innovative economies have difficulty keeping up with higher-ranking economies, even when making notable gains themselves. This can largely be explained by their difficulties to grow and retain the human resources necessary for sustained innovation, which is the focus of this year’s report.

Bruno Lanvin added, “As innovation becomes a global game, a growing number of emerging economies are confronted with complex issues whereby ‘brain gain’ can only be generated through a delicate balance between talents outflows (citizens seeking an education abroad) and inflows (whereby high performers return home to innovate and create local jobs, and diasporas contribute to national competitiveness). Around the world, we see encouraging signs that this is happening. In GCC countries, it has been common for bright students to receive a high-level education abroad (in business, engineering) and return home to take high-level responsibilities. In countries like Lebanon, Morocco or Tunisia, diasporas have played positive roles in innovation, both abroad and at home.”

This year’s report, both through its sub-indicators and through the chapters provided by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the OECD and reports on India, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Morocco highlights how the human factor of innovation partly explains which innovation champions remain at the top, and why some of the large emerging economies offer divergent innovation performances.

In terms of education as a subset of human capital formation the top performers within the high income group are the Republic of Korea, Finland and the UK. China, Argentina and Hungary take the top positions among the middle-income countries. All of these countries have made visible efforts to maintain or enhance the quality of their human resources through education and life-long learning.

The GII shows that better educated citizens are more successful in higher-income economies in leveraging the favorable contexts for driving innovation. As countries move up the scale of innovation sophistication, the quality of its talents in science, engineering, but also in business and management for example become even more critical.
Top Rankings

The quality of innovation is assessed as well. In terms of innovation quality – as measured by university performance, the reach of scholarly articles and the international dimension of patent applications - the US holds the top place within the high-income group, followed by Japan, Germany and Switzerland. Top-scoring middle-income economies are narrowing the gap on innovation quality with China in the lead, followed by Brazil and India.

Soumitra Dutta added: "When reviewing the GII quality indicators, top performing middle-income economies are closing the gap with high-income economies. China significantly outperforms the average score of high-income economies across the combined quality indicators. To close the gap even further, middle-income economies must continue to invest in strengthening their innovation ecosystems closely monitor the quality of their innovation indicators."

Global R&D Spending  
A fall in the growth of public R&D support coupled with the continued hesitancy of company R&D expenditures seems to be leading to slower overall growth of total R&D expenditures worldwide; this is the case especially in high-income countries. In many advanced countries, fiscal consolidation also seems to have negatively affected public spending on education since 2010, it said.

Also, although governments have effectively included a significant number of future innovation-related growth projects in stimulus packages in 2009, support for such efforts seems to have lost momentum in some countries. To be sure, the majority of countries for which data are available continue to show positive R&D expenditure growth in 2013 and 2014. Yet strong R&D spending growth in 2013 and 2014 is expected to take place mostly in Asia, in particular in China, the Republic of Korea, and India. - TradeArabia News Service
 




Tags: UAE | index | innovation | Insead | Wipo |

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