International Innovation Scorecard 2023: 24 countries and EU receive highest innovation honors.
As the tech industry becomes more complex and global conditions favoring innovation appear increasingly tenuous, discerning industry observers look to research for indicators they can trust. CTA’s International Innovation Scorecard for 2023 offers one such study and shows that strife seems to sharpen resolve and technical ingenuity across governments and societies.
An unprecedented 24 countries and the European Union earned the highest title of Innovation Champion in 2023, the most ever recognized. Each honoree pushed boundaries in times of extraordinary disruption, doing so through policies and practices that foster workplace diversity, mobility, technical exploration and entrepreneurialism.
All countries evaluated, including the entire G-20 and all members of the European Union, were graded on 17 quantitative and qualitative categories, which evaluate innovation-friendly policies that included entrepreneurial activity, sustainability and environment, ethnic diversity, tax friendliness, and civil and political liberties. Then, a composite score of each grade determined an overall title: Innovation Champions (the highest ranking), Innovation Leaders, Innovation Adopters or Modest Innovators.
What’s New for 2023?
Since the release of the last International Scorecard, nine additional countries were included, and several categories were reconfigured to incorporate the latest available data. These updates resulted in a new combined total of 40 metrics. Four new categories examine how countries embrace vital emerging technologies, among them telemedicine, cybersecurity, digital assets and artificial intelligence.
A record number of top innovators earned the distinction of Innovation Champion for 2023 by overcoming formidable hurdles — political, economic, societal and more. The tier of Innovation Leaders includes dynamic Asian economies such as South Korea and Malaysia, as well as a group of democracies only a generation removed from the Cold War — Poland, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Hungary. Four Innovation Leaders — Bulgaria, Malta, Slovakia and Greece — are new entrants to the group, reflecting the expansion of technological progress.
Ranking criteria considered a range of pro-innovation factors and evaluated, for example, whether governments help their citizens own businesses. A high priority was placed on the extent to which countries encourage research and how countries support and reward workforce diversity. Here’s a closer look at the scoring levels and the countries recognized.
The world’s top-scoring countries — 2023 Innovation Champions — earned high marks for workforce diversity, personal and economic freedom, high-speed broadband connections, highly skilled workers, an entrepreneur-friendly climate, and receptivity to new technologies and business models. These countries allow payments using digital assets, including cryptocurrencies, and allow testing of self-driving vehicles and advanced air-mobility technologies. The 25 Innovation Champions include global leaders such as the United Kingdom and United States. For 2023, top honors also go to new winners, including Germany and Japan, as well as small but technologically substantial countries, including Estonia, Ireland, Israel and Lithuania, among others.
The 16 Innovation Leaders scored well in most of the 17 categories, rating relatively high for economic and personal freedoms, workforce education and skill levels. They also benefit from high levels of entrepreneurial activity and R&D investment. This group includes industrial and manufacturing leaders, such as South Korea and Malaysia, and many rapidly growing economies in Eastern Europe, including Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.
The 20 Innovation Adopters model strong pro-innovation policies in some, but not most, categories. Notable among these: diversity of the workforce in Mexico and Costa Rica, business-friendly tax policies in Romania and Kazakhstan, and commitment in the Philippines to free trade. Most Innovation Adopters can realize technological advances by removing complexities that inhibit establishing and operating businesses. Some can do more to improve technical education.
Fortunately, the lowest tier on the scorecard also has the fewest members: 10 Modest Innovators show the greatest room for improvement. They can score higher on the innovation scale by, for example, increasing ethnic and gender diversity within the workforce, easing restrictions on ownership and use of cryptocurrency, and removing impediments to entrepreneurship in one or more areas