Five Southeast Asian economies significantly improved their rankings on the 2022 Global Innovation Index (GII), a World Intellectual Property Office report on the state of innovation worldwide.
Indonesia, Cambodia, and Myanmar jumped over 10 places to 75th from 87th in the 2021 GII, 97th from 109th, and 116th from 127th respectively. Laos also improved its ranking to 112th from 117th.
Furthermore, Singapore continued to lead the Southeast Asian region in the ranking, which improved to 7th most innovative worldwide from 8th in 2021.
It is the only Southeast Asian economy in the prestigious top 15 of the index, below Switzerland, the United States, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the Republic of Korea.
Malaysia and Thailand were able to maintain their overall spots this year, at 36th and 43rd respectively.
Four SEA economies performing above expectations
Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia were part of the list of innovation achievers.
The list of innovation achievers is composed of economies that are performing above expectations for their income group. In the current 2022 ranking, there are 26 economies on the list
Indonesia is one of the newest additions to the list, first entering in the 2022 index. It also entered the list of the top 80 most innovative economies this year, at the 75th rank.
Vietnam has consistently been on the list for the past 12 years, since 2011, making it one of the longest-standing innovation achievers. Other countries that have been on the list for 12 years include India, Kenya, and Moldova.
The Philippines has also been consistently on the list, being an innovation achiever for the past 4 years from 2019-2022.
Thailand was on the list of innovation achievers for 6 years combined, in 2015, 2017-2018, and 2020-2022.
Three SEA economies fell in the rankings
Even though they were reported to perform above expectations, Vietnam and the Philippines fell in the rankings. Vietnam is now 48th worldwide from 44th in 2021 and the Philippines dropped to 59th from 51st.
Vietnam’s lower overall ranking could be attributed to the lower scores it got in Human Capital and Research, Market Sophistication, Knowledge and Technology Outputs, and Creative Output indicators. The most significant drop was in Market Sophistication with its 57.2 score in 2021 dropping to 38.4 in 2022.
However, its Institutions, Infrastructure, and Business Sophistication indicator scores marginally improved.
Similarly, the Philippines’ garnered lower scores under nearly all main indicators this year. Only its Business Sophistication indicator score increased while Institutions, Human Capital and Research, Infrastructure, Market Sophistication, Knowledge and Technology Outputs, and Creative Outputs indicator scores decreased.
Brunei Darussalam also dropped in the rankings, falling to 92nd from 82nd in 2021, the most significant drop among the Southeast Asian economies.
Its Market Sophistication and Creative Outputs indicator score faced the most significant drops, falling from 37.8 in 2021 to 23.5 in 2022 and 18.7 in 2021 to 2.0 in 2022 respectively. Its Knowledge and Technology Outputs, Institutions, and Infrastructure indicator scores faced smaller drops.
Innovation in Southeast Asia shows strong potential
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic significantly affecting the Southeast Asian region, multiple Southeast Asian economies were able to improve their rankings, and four economies were able to perform above expectations.
These show that the Southeast Asian region remains to show strong potential to become one of the leading innovators worldwide, despite some indicators lagging behind the rest of the world.
The 2022 Global Innovation Index shows that Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Oceania continue to catch up with the traditional innovation powerhouses in North America and Europe.
This may signal that a shift in the innovation landscape may happen in the next few decades, with more Southeast Asian nations potentially joining Singapore as one of the most innovative economies in the world.
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