Sweden maintained its third-place ranking from last year scoring in the very top out of 141 countries in the ranking. Switzerland took first place and the United Kingdom came in second, just slightly ahead of Sweden.
“It's wonderful that Sweden ranks so highly,” said Mikael Damberg, Sweden's Innovation Minister. “We are still the best in the EU.”
However, Damberg noted that Sweden still has to work hard.
“There are still challenges we have to overcome, and we are working to improve research, innovation, and the quality of our higher education,” he said. “The government's goal is to make Sweden one of the best countries in the world when it comes to innovation.”
The annual report highlights innovation as a critical engine for future development, and a motor which is driven by the collaboration of researchers, universities, governments, and societies as a whole.
Sweden was by far leading the way for the Nordics, beating Denmark – at 10th position – Finland at 6th, and Norway at 20th.
In fact, there has been a significant decrease in the innovation performance of the Nordic nations since 2011 – and Sweden is the exception.
The ranking is based on several “pillars”, and countries must do well in all areas in order to score highly overall.
Institutions, human capital and research, infrastructure, market sophistication, efficiency, and technology outputs are just a few of the factors.
Sweden ranked in the top 25 in all areas or pillars, with the exception of the sub-pillars Trade and competition and Knowledge Impact, where it ranked 28th.
At the same time, Sweden improved its ranking in many other areas: Human capital and research has jumped up to 4th place thanks to the quality of Swedish universities, while Business sophistication has also increased due to knowledgeable workers and high knowledge absorption.
It was also interesting to note that the top innovative nations were also all very high-income countries. The report offered additional insight by presenting different groupings, to see which nations are the highest performing even in the lower-income areas of the world.
Kenya, Mozambique, and Uganda are the most innovative low-income countries, while the report ranked the Republic of Moldova, Viet Nam, and Armenia at the top for lower-middle income countries. For the upper middle earners, China, Malaysia, and Hungry placed at the top.