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Chairman’s Corner: The State of Global Innovation

The results of the 2020 edition of the Global Innovation Index (GII), released on September 2nd provide a timely window on the state of global innovation (you can read the report at: https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/Home ). I founded the Global Innovation Index (GII) 13 years ago, and over the last decade, the GII has evolved into a valuable benchmarking tool that facilitates public-private dialogue and that helps policy-makers, business leaders, and other stakeholders to evaluate their innovation progress on an annual basis. The GII is co-published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Cornell University and INSEAD.

See the video on the most innovative nations for 2020: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0xt4IeRxSc&list=PLsm_LOEppJaxgH71j7-ICT42P2-EVPdeG&index=3&t=0s 

According to the 2020 GII rankings, for the 9th consecutive year Switzerland tops the ranking, followed by Sweden, U.S., U.K and Netherlands. The Republic of Korea joins the top 10 for the first time  and follows Singapore (9th). The top 10 is dominated by high-income countries. The geography of innovation continues to shift, the GII 2020 shows. Over the years, India, China, the Philippines, and Vietnam are the economies with the most significant progress in their GII innovation ranking over time. All four are now in the top 50.

For the last four years, the GII has also published a ranking of the world’s top 100 science and technology hotspots. In 2020, Tokyo-Yokohama is the top performing hotspot again, followed by Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou, Seoul, Beijing, and San Jose-San Francisco. The U.S. continues to host the largest number of hotspots (25), followed by China (17), Germany (10), and Japan (5). The top 100 clusters are located in 26 economies, of which six – Brazil, China, India, Iran, Turkey, and the Russian Federation – are middle-income economies.

Moving from containment to recovery, COVID-19 is impacting innovation. In the last few months, the COVID-19 crisis has catalyzed changes to the way we live, work and learn that we never thought were feasible. We are connecting with each other in ways that are unprecedentedly innovative: and this is just the start. 

As we transition from containing the crisis to recovering from it, policymakers worldwide need to make innovation a top priority in economic stimulus efforts. It is crucial that support for innovation becomes more broad and that it is conducted in a countercyclical way, meaning that as spending on innovation by businesses decreases, governments must work to counteract this with expenditure boosts.

See my video on innovation in a post-covid world: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9v7Ys2zL-iU&list=PLsm_LOEppJaxgH71j7-ICT42P2-EVPdeG&index=12&t=0s 

In a time of active interest in innovation in education, I am very pleased that GBSN is innovating by reimagining its annual conference and is excited to present: GBSN Beyond. Instead of a two-day in-person event, GBSN Beyond involves three parallel track experiences culminating in a virtual event, November 9-13. These experiences engage Students, Faculty, and Administrators at institutions of higher learning and partner organizations in the weeks leading up to November 9th. The culminating event will bring these groups together through a program including short keynote addresses, presentations, workshops, and social activities. Such global and inclusive engagement would not have been possible without the active use of technology to innovate and re-imagine engagement with the different stakeholder groups of the GBSN ecosystem.

I have written in this GBSN blog series about the necessity for innovation in business education. There are many obstacles to leading the transformation of business education—its infrastructure, traditions, and culture were built for previous industrial revolutions. GBSN Beyond helps schools to address these challenges and explore the critical role of business and entrepreneurship education in our global future. GBSN Beyond is an important way in which the GBSN community can come together and innovate as we look forward to a post-covid world in the not too distant future. Let us all do our bit to experiment, innovate and help create the future.

Soumitra Dutta is a Professor of Management at Cornell University and the Chair of the Board of Directors for GBSN. Previously he was the Founding Dean of the SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell and Chair of AACSB Intl. He is also the President of Portulans Institute and co-chaired the Global Future Council on innovation ecosystems for the World Economic Forum.