The latest Bloomberg Innovation Index report lists South Korea as the world’s leader in innovation after suppressing Germany, which was the last leader and has now fallen to 4th place. South Korea leading in innovation is not uncommon as they have led seven out of the nine years that Bloomberg has published the index.
Much of the data used in the index was obtained before the COVID-19 pandemic, although the chart does seem to indicate that the top innovators have done the best at handling the pandemic. The Index does note that China received a large boost due to Wuhan’s impressive ability to test 10 million residents of a city for coronavirus, which was a massive public health innovation.
South Korea is a notable leader of the group as they are often not considered as developed as many over nations and are battling a losing technology battle against China’s low-cost labor. However, the nation, and more importantly the people, have a mindset focused on research and development and much of the country’s policies are focused on that concept.
The United States and China are the world’s two largest economies and neither has made the top ten on the list. One of the largest declines in the U.S. is due to an extremely poor ranking higher education system that has underperformed in numerous areas. President Biden has made a push to focus on manufacturing R&D, but so far has not stated any plans to deal with the education problems.
The ranking process begins with over 200 nations which are scored on a zero to ten scale in seven categories. Many nations do not properly report their data in these categories and are automatically eliminated and Bloomberg only publishes the top 60. You can view a summary of the report here, although is does require a special subscription.