World’s top innovative nations

January 16, 2009

1. United States

The United States still rules the world when it comes to innovation. This is no surprise, as the US with a legacy of over 100 years in innovation, has been consistent in taking the leader’s slot. The US knows it must continue to innovate to stay ahead. It tops in three areas: human capacity, business markets and competitiveness. The five input pillars that are included in the GII are: Institutions and Policies, Human Capacity, General and ICT Infrastructure, Markets Sophistication and Business Sophistication. The input pillars define aspects of the conducive environment required to stimulate innovation within an economy. There are three output pillars which provide evidence of the results of innovation within the economy: Knowledge Creation, Competitiveness and Wealth Creation. The US scored high on both input (ranked 2nd) and output (ranked 1st) pillars.

2. Germany

Germany follows in second position, maintaining its position from last year. Germany scores relatively low on the input pillars (10th) and very high on the output pillars (2nd), leading to an overall second rank. It is important to note that that eight out of the top 10 countries in the list are from Europe. As global competition intensifies and innovation becomes more important, the business sector has been internationalizing knowledge-intensive corporate functions, including research and development, the study points out.

3. Sweden

Sweden rises to 3rd rank in 2008 year from 12th position in 2007. It’s important to provide a safety net to innovators, says the study. There must be a conducive environment for innovative companies. A ‘succeed or perish’ environment often kills innovative ideas in the nascent stages as people will be too intimidated to take creative risks that could fail.

4. United Kingdom

The United Kingdom fell from 3rd to 4th position in 2008. The study reflects that innovation is correlated with income levels in a country. For example, the innovation levels in the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries are much more than non-OECD countries. The high income countries do significantly better by topping innovation rankings. The average innovation index falls with the income levels of the country.

5. Singapore

Singapore rose to 5th rank in 2008 from 7th. Singapore is also 2nd from the Asian region. Innovation is not just about generating new ideas, says the study. It is about translating these ideas into value-added products and services. This requires flexibility of attitude and a willingness to adapt and welcome unprecedented levels of change on the part of all stakeholders involved, says the study.

6. South Korea

South Korea made a giant leap by grabbing the 6th rank, up from 19th position in 2007. Over the last two decades, the Republic of Korea has undergone a great change, with Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and innovation becoming the power engine for its high economic growth. After facing a big financial crisis in 1997, Korea emerged into a powerhouse of knowledge through the consolidation of knowledge industries with the ICT industry itself contributing to more than 30 per cent of its total exports, the study states.

7. Switzerland

One of the world most beautiful places has also made it to the top innovative nations’ list. Switzerland is ranked 7th in the global innovative index. Innovation is the key driver of any economy. It works best when like-minded individuals come together in small collectives, irrespective of political and cultural differences and work on projects that yield value for all parties involved.

8. Denmark

While Denmark features among the top nations with an overall score of 5.73 along the different input pillars, it ranks relatively low at position 21st along the output pillars. This pulls the overall GII rank of Denmark down to 8th and raises questions as to why despite creating a highly conducive environment for innovation, it is not able to capitalize on it. The remarkable leadership and phenomenal development of the three Nordic countries of Finland, Denmark and Sweden have consistently done well in the development of institutions and policies that nurture innovation. Denmark tops the ICT and infrastructure pillar. Denmark also comes at top position in the 2008 Networked Readiness Rankings of the World Economic Forum.

9. Japan

The world’s industrial powerhouse Japan moved down to 9th position in 2008. It was ranked fourth in 2007. Ranked relatively lower along the input pillars (16th), Japan comes in at an impressive 3rd position along the output pillars. Clearly, Germany and Japan are able to leverage their less favorable innovation environments into more effective innovation results. The Japanese society is currently undergoing deep structural changes. Japan enjoys a competitive edge in business sophistication, innovation and R&D (research and development) spending. But its macroeconomic weaknesses have led to one of the highest debt levels in the world. People are also questioning the values of the political, economic and social institutions, and alternatives are being explored. This includes the fields of education, research and innovation as well. The government and the private sector give high priority to R&D spending.

10. Netherlands

The Netherlands with a prosperous economy is ranked 10th in the list. It is also the 16th largest economy in the world. A country’s readiness is linked to its ability to garner the best from leading-edge technologies, expanded human capacities, better organizational and operational capabilities and improved institutional performance, according to the study.

Advertisements

9 Rules of Innovation from Google

March 11, 2008

Marissa Mayer is the Google’s vice president of search products and user experience. With two Stanford degrees in computer science. She’s also Google’s high priestess of simplicity. Here she shares the rules that give the search giant its innovative edge.

1. Innovation, not instant perfection

“There are two different types of programmers. Some like to code for months or even years, and hope they will have built the perfect product. That’s castle building. Companies work this way, too. Apple is great at it. If you get it right and you’ve built just the perfect thing, you get this worldwide ‘Wow!’ The problem is, if you get it wrong, you get a thud, a thud in which you’ve spent, like, five years and 100 people on something the market doesn’t want.”

“Others prefer to have something working at the end of the day, something to refine and improve the next day. That’s what we do: our ‘launch early and often’ strategy. The hardest part about indoctrinating people into our culture is when engineers show me a prototype and I’m like, ‘Great, let’s go!’ They’ll say, ‘Oh, no, it’s not ready.

It’s not up to Google standards. This doesn’t look like a Google product yet.’ They want to castle-build and do all these other features and make it all perfect.”

“I tell them, ‘The Googly thing is to launch it early on Google Labs and then iterate, learning what the market wants–and making it great.’ The beauty of experimenting in this way is that you never get too far from what the market wants. The market pulls you back.”

2. Ideas come from everywhere

“We have this great internal list where people post new ideas and everyone can go on and see them. It’s like a voting pool where you can say how good or bad you think an idea is. Those comments lead to new ideas.”

3. A license to pursue your dreams

“Since around 2000, we let engineers spend 20% of their time working on whatever they want, and we trust that they’ll build interesting things. After September 11, one of our researchers, Krishna Bharat, would go to 10 or 15 news sites each day looking for information about the case. And he thought, why don’t I write a program to do this? So Krishna, who’s an expert in artificial intelligence, used a Web crawler to cluster articles.”

“He later emailed it around the company. My office mate and I got it, and we were like, ‘This isn’t just a cool little tool for Krishna. We could add more sources and build this into a great product.’ That’s how Google News came about. Krishna did not intend to build a product, but he accidentally gave us the idea for one.”

“We let engineers spend 20% of their time working on whatever they want, and we trust that they’ll build interesting things.”

4. Morph projects don’t kill them

“Eric [Schmidt, CEO] made this observation to me once, which I think is accurate: Any project that is good enough to make it to Labs probably has a kernel of something interesting in there somewhere, even if the market doesn’t respond to it. It’s our job to take the product and morph it into something that the market needs.”

5. Share as much information as you can

“People are blown away by the information you can get on MOMA, our intranet. Because there is so much information shared across the company, employees have insight into what’s happening with the business and what’s important.”

“We also have people do things like Snippets. Every Monday, all the employees write an email that has five to seven bullet points on what you did the previous week. Being a search company, we take all the emails and make a giant Web page and index them.”

“If you’re wondering, ‘Who’s working on maps?’ you can find out. It allows us to share what we know across the whole company, and it reduces duplication.

6. Users, users, users

“I used to call this ‘Users, Not Money.’ We believe that if we focus on the users, the money will come. In a truly virtual business, if you’re successful, you’ll be working at something that’s so necessary people will pay for it in subscription form. Or you’ll have so many users that advertisers will pay to sponsor the site.”

7. Data is apolitical

“When I meet people who run design at other organizations, they’re always like, ‘Design is one of the most political areas of the company. This designer likes green and that one likes purple, and whose design gets picked? The one who buddies up to the boss.’

Some companies think of design as an art. We think of design as a science. It doesn’t matter who is the favorite or how much you like this aesthetic versus that aesthetic. It all comes down to data. Run a 1% test [on 1% of the audience] and whichever design does best against the user-happiness metrics over a two-week period is the one we launch. We have a very academic environment where we’re looking at data all the time.

We probably have somewhere between 50 and 100 experiments running on live traffic, everything from the default number of results to underlined links to how big an arrow should be. We’re trying all those different things.”

8. Creativity loves constraints

“This is one of my favorites. People think of creativity as this sort of unbridled thing, but engineers thrive on constraints. They love to think their way out of that little box: ‘We know you said it was impossible, but we’re going to do this, this, and that to get us there.'”

9. You’re brilliant? We’re hiring

“When I was a grad student at Stanford, I saw that phrase on a flyer for another company in the basement of the computer-science building. It made me stop dead in my tracks and laugh out loud.”

“A couple of months later, I’m working at Google, and the engineers were asked to write job ads for engineers. We had a contest. I put, ‘You’re brilliant? We’re hiring. Come work at Google,’ and got eight times the click rate that anyone else got.

“Google now has a thousand times as many people as when I started, which is just staggering to me. What’s remarkable, though, is what hasn’t changed–the types of people who work here and the types of things that they like to work on. It’s almost identical to the first 20 or so of us at Google.”

“There is this amazing element to the culture of wanting to work on big problems that matter, wanting to do great things for the world, believing that we can build a successful business without compromising our standards and values.”

“If I’m an entrepreneur and I want to start a Web site, I need a billing system. Oh, there’s Google Checkout. I need a mapping function. Oh, there’s Google Maps. Okay, I need to monetize. There’s Google Ad Sense, right? I need a user name and password-authentication system. There’s Google Accounts.”

“This is just way easier than going out and trying to create all of that from scratch. That’s how we’re going to stay innovative. We’re going to continue to attract entrepreneurs who say, ‘I found an idea, and I can go to Google and have a demo in a month and be launched in six.'”