THE PHILIPPINES has moved up 19 spots to 54th out of 129 economies from last year on an annual list that tracks their performance in terms of innovation, with the country breaking into the ranks of 17 others that “outperform” in this regard relative to gross domestic product.

Global innovation index 2019

The Global Innovation Index 2019 (GII) — prepared by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization — said the Philippines improved in almost all the metrics which the report used, namely: in Institutions, Human Capital and Research, Infrastructure, Business Sophistication, Knowledge and Technology Outputs and Creative Outputs.

“In the Business sophistication (32nd) pillar, the Philippines improves in almost all the indicators related to Innovation linkages and gains top ranks in High-tech imports (5th) and Research talent (6th),” the report read.

“In Knowledge and technology outputs (31st), the data for indicator High-tech net exports became available this year and the country ranks 1st,” it added.

“Four other indicators rank in the top 10: Firms offering formal training (9th), productivity growth (10th), ICT services exports (8th), and Creative goods exports (8th).”

At the same time, the Philippines was found weak in terms of ease of starting a business, ease of getting credit, expenditure on education, global R&D companies, scientific and technical articles and new businesses.

“While some changes to the GII model explain a small part of this leap, newly available metrics give a more thorough assessment of the country’s innovation performance, which itself shows some signs of progress,” the report said of the Philippines’ performance this year.

Compared to its regional peers, the report said the Philippines showed “relatively good scores” particularly in trademarks, females employed with advanced degrees, high-tech imports and creative goods exports.

The report noted that, on the whole, the country was one of the most improved on this year’s list, propelling it to break into the “innovation achievers” cluster.

“The Philippines appears for the first time in the group of innovation achievers. It scores above average in all innovation dimensions, with the exception of Market sophistication, relative to its lower middle-income peers,” the report said.

“It has remarkable performance in Knowledge diffusion and Knowledge absorption, not only relative to its income group and geographic region, but also relative to all other economies assessed in the GII.”

Reacting to the report, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said in a statement: “This is great news for our nation and our innovation ecosystem as a whole. It recognizes the efforts of the various government agencies… in advancing innovation among our people and MSMEs (micro, small, medium enterprises), creating an innovative culture, as well as in building linkages with academe and industry.”

He added that he expects further improvement in the country’s rank after the recent signing of Republic Act (RA) No. 11293 or the Philippine Innovation Act and RA No. 11337 or the Innovative Startup Act.

Malacañang also welcomed results of the latest report, saying in a statement that it commends the departments and agencies that helped achieve the improvement in the country’s global rank. “May this good news further motivate them in creating an environment that nurtures innovation and creates business opportunities as we become one of the fastest growing economies in the globe,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo was quoted as saying.

The global top 10 consist of, in descending order: Switzerland (also top last year), Sweden (from 3rd), the United States (from 6th), the Netherlands (from 2nd), the United Kingdom (from 4th), Finland (from 7th), Denmark (from 8th), Singapore (8th from 5th), Germany (flat from 9th last year) and Israel (from 11th).

Seven of the 15 economies in the South East Asia, East Asia and Oceania group rank in the top 25, namely: Singapore, South Korea (11th), Hong Kong (13th), China (14th), Japan (15th), Australia (22nd) and New Zealand (25th).

Besides Singapore (8th) and the Philippines (54th), the other Southeast Asian countries on the list performed as follows: Malaysia (35th), Vietnam (42nd), Thailand (43rd), Brunei (71st), Indonesia (85th) and Cambodia (98th).

India, to which the Philippines is frequently compared when it comes to business process outsourcing, placed 52nd in this year’s report. — Denise A. Valdez