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Sweden overtakes US as world’s second most innovative economy

Image: European Space Agency

European countries dominate 2023 Wipo ranking, with Switzerland, Sweden and UK also in top five

Sweden has overtaken the United States as the world’s second most innovative economy in 2023, according to a ranking dominated by European countries.

Switzerland retained the top spot in the annual ranking by the World Intellectual Property Organization, with Sweden, the US, the UK and Singapore making up the rest of the top five, in that order.

Overall, 16 European countries featured in the top 25 of the list compiled by Wipo—an agency of the United Nations—using 80 indicators to track global innovation trends.

Out of 39 European economies covered, 19 moved up the ranking between 2022 and 2023—a trend that will be welcomed by European policymakers, who have been pushing to improve the continent’s performance in innovation.

Alongside Sweden, other European countries that moved toward the top of the ranking include Finland, which moved from ninth to sixth; Denmark (10th to ninth); and France (12th to 11th).

Middle-income risers

Wipo also found that a group of middle-income economies, including Indonesia, China, Turkey, India, Vietnam, the Philippines and Iran, have emerged over the past decade as the fastest climbers in the ranking.

The agency’s director-general, Daren Tang, said the consistent rise of such countries showed “how a focus on the innovation ecosystem can make a difference”.

As part of its report, Wipo also assessed the current state of global R&D financing, noting that preliminary data suggest global government R&D budgets increased in real terms in 2022. Japan and South Korea saw significant increases, while a smaller increase was observed in Germany.

Corporate spending on R&D also hit a record level in 2022, Wipo found, reaching $1.1 trillion (€1.04tr), but the 7.4 per cent increase in spending was less than the 15 per cent growth figure recorded in 2021.