Switzerland retains crown as ‘world’s most innovative nation’

Switzerland has been named the world's most innovative country by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for the eighth year in a row.

Switzerland retains crown as 'world's most innovative nation'
File photo: Depositphotos

The country claimed the top spot in the Global Innovation Index 2018 published on Tuesday. 

Rounding out the top five were the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and Singapore. 

Read also: Opinion – why Switzerland is a great place to do business

Compiled by WIPO, Cornell University and France's INSEAD business school, the innovation study is described as a “detailed quantitative tool that helps global decision makers better understand how to stimulate the innovative activity that drives economic and human development”. 

It looks at over 80 indicators ranging from environmental performance (where Switzerland took top spot) to knowledge-intensive employment (third place) and even Wikipedia edits (27). 

Switzerland scored very highly for factors including its political environment (2) and regulatory environment (5). It also claimed top stop for research collaboration between industry and universities. 

The WIPO study results are further confirmation of the role of innovation in Switzerland.  

Switzerland's EPFL federal technology institute came fourth in the recent Reuters Top 100: Europe’s Most Innovative Universities ranking, while Zurich's ETH placed tenth and the University of Zurich was 13th. 

Switzerland also regularly comes top globally for the number of patents filed per capita. 

However, the WIPO study is not all good news for Switzerland. The country continues to have low scores for ease of starting a business (59), women with advanced degrees as a percentage of the total workforce (29th spot) and expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP (50th overall). 

Read also: The pros and cons of working in Switzerland


Danish companies invent like never before

Recent years have seen unrivalled levels of productivity from Danish inventors.

Danish companies invent like never before
Novozymes' lab in Bagsværd. File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

An enzyme that breaks down dead cells in the stomachs of chickens so that they don’t need as much feed.

An algorithm that stabilizes the swaying of a wind turbine so that it can be built with a little less steel.

These are examples of products that two Danish companies, Novozymes and Vestas, have developed and been granted patents for.

Danish companies are now among the most active in developing new products, according to a report published on Tuesday by the European Patent Office. In the report, Denmark was listed as number 3, after Holland and Switzerland.

In 2018, Danish companies applied for 2,390 patents in Europe, a 14.4 percent increase compared to the year before, and the highest amount Danish companies have ever applied for in one year, the report stated.

The Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri, DI), a private interest organization made up of approximately 10,000 Danish companies within manufacturing, service and trade, said the report reflects an investment on developing new ideas and transforming these ideas into real solutions.

“Danish companies are highly innovative. They are willing to invest large sums of money in order to be the first ones to come up with new solutions,” DI’s head consultant Lars Holm Nielsen said.

“The largest companies invest a lot of money in research and development, but there are also many small and medium-sized companies that are ahead in their respective fields when it comes to the development of new products,” Nielsen added.

Several of Denmark’s largest companies are amongst the most active in finding and developing new ideas. Last year, Novozymes was at the top with 192 patent applications. Vestas, Novo Nordisk, and Oticon were all close behind.

Claus Crone Fuglsang, research director at Novozymes, said that patents are crucial if the company is to continue to develop new products.

“Novozymes is a company that is driven by innovation. Patents ensure that the company finds a legitimate market for the products we develop. Patents also help us to maintain earnings to cover the costs of the development process,” Fuglsang said.

“Without patents, technology makes it very easy for others to copy our products. We have to make sure that we that we are compensated for the costs of research and development,” he added.

READ ALSO: Four ways Copenhagen is leading on innovation