Switzerland remains the most innovative country in the world despite COVID-19

Global Innovation Index 2021

Anyone who thinks that the COVID-19 crisis has put a spoke in Switzerland’s wheel in terms of innovative strength is mistaken. Switzerland has once again reached the top of the podium in 2021.

All indications are that the COVID-19 crisis has had only a minor impact on the innovation capability of Switzerland's economy. The 2021 Global Innovation Index of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) ranks Switzerland again as world’s most-innovative economy ahead of Sweden and the USA, the UK and South Korea. Switzerland tops this list now for the 11th time in a row.

Economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic

Governments and enterprises in many parts of the world have scaled up investments in innovation amid the massive human and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Global Innovation Index shows the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on various industries. According to the report, especially companies in the areas of software, internet and communication technologies, hardware and electrical appliances as well as pharmaceuticals and biotechnology increased their investments and strengthened their research and development activities. However, industries that have been heavily affected by the pandemic containment measures and whose business models rely on personal activities such as transport and travel – have had to cut their spending on innovation topics.

As the world looks to rebuild from the pandemic, we know that innovation is integral to overcoming the common challenges that we face and to constructing a better future.

Daren Tang, Director General, World Intellectual Property Organization

Innovation performance measure since 2007

Published every year since 2007, the core of the Innovation Index provides performance measures and ranks 132 economies on their innovation ecosystems. The Index is based on a huge dataset of 81 indicators from international public and private sources. Not restricted to research and development (R&D) laboratories and published scientific papers, it also includes a broad range of social, business model and technical indicators.

Why is Switzerland such an innovative economy?

The reasons are manifold and cannot be explained in just a few words. Due to its relative lack of natural resources, Switzerland is forced to focus on research and development, and has invested in the establishment and funding of a high number of world-renowned universities, which in turn attract multinationals seeking highly qualified employees. Patent applications are a case in point. With 966 patent applications per million inhabitants in 2020, Switzerland is well above the EU average of 146 applications per million inhabitants, ranking 3rd worldwide.

Global Innovation Index 2021