NZ slides down innovation rankings, but still the place to start a business

NZ slides down innovation rankings, but still the place to start a business
If you're looking to start a new business, New Zealand's not a bad place to do it - nowhere in the world can you do so more quickly, and it won't break the bank.
The top 20 innovative countries

The top 10 was dominated by European countries.

If you're looking to start a new business, New Zealand's not a bad place to do it - nowhere in the world can you do so more quickly, and it won't break the bank.

Plenty of entrepreneurial types appear to be making the most of these favourable conditions, according to the 2011 Global Innovation Index. As a country, we rank third in the world for new business density, with just over 17 new businesses registered per 10,000 people aged 15-64 in 2009.

It takes just one day to start a business* here, compared to two in Australia - and only 0.4 percent of income per capita, which places us on equal footing with Canada and Ireland for third place.

But it's not all good news. Overall, we rank 15th on the innovation index. That's down from 9th last year, which represented a mighty improvement on 27th in 2009.

Switzerland, with its impressive GDP and personal wealth, topped the table, followed by Sweden and Singapore.

Says Soumitra Dutta, editor of the report: "Innovation is critical to driving growth in both developed and emerging economies, especially during a time when the global economy is still in a state of recovery."

The report noted that out of 125 economies in total, 15 in the Pacific and East Asia were represented, seven of which made the top 30. 

"This region is almost tied with Europe and Central Asia in its innovation performance, even though in terms of economic development it is much closer to the Middle East and North Africa." 

However, the study - conducted by business school INSEAD with Alcatel-Lucent, Booz & Company, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) - acknowledged that its model cannot capture all aspects of innovation.

"A key challenge is to find metrics that capture innovation as it happens today in the world, particularly in emerging markets. The definition of innovation has broadened, and with it the challenge for data collection. Innovations are no longer restricted to R&D laboratories and to published scientific papers; these days, knowledge production is centred mostly around the firm where research is increasingly context-driven, problem- focused, application-oriented, and interdisciplinary. New or significantly improved product, processes and methods in the provision of services; in business and organizational models; in low-tech industries; through creative imitation and technological catch-up; at the public level or at the level of society, all constitute innovations."

WIPO director Francis Gurry says innovation remains a blurry concept that evades clear measurement. Nonetheless, he believes the GII plays an important part in putting the spotlight firmly on the topic and fostering the availability of statistical data.

"The Global Innovation Index (GII) provides an integrated metric based on carefully selected and weighted variables. It is the result of several years of improvement, a willingness to use official data where possible, and a desire to weight sub-variables in order not to penalise smaller or lower-income economies," he says.

"Innovation and its many benefits do not come without the investment of time, effort and human and financial resources."

Five pillars constitute the innovation input sub=index: 'Institutions,' 'Human capital and research,' 'Infrastructure', 'Market sophistication' and 'Business sophistication'. The output sub-index is composed of two pillars: 'Scientific outputs' and 'Creative outputs'. The ratio is given as the efficiency index.

As well as ranking 15th overall, New Zealand scored the same rating for both input and output, but was 46th in the efficiency stakes.

The countries deemed to have best surmounted their weaknesses and topped the efficiency scale were Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria, China, Pakistan, Moldova, Sweden, Brazil, Argentina, India, and Bangladesh.

Download the full report here.

* The median duration that incorporation lawyers indicate is necessary to complete a procedure with minimum follow-up with government agencies and no extra payments.

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