Singapore regains Asia’s No. 1 spot in latest Global Innovation Index, overtaking South Korea

Singapore has moved up two rungs in the 2023 Global Innovation Index (GII), taking back its No. 1 spot in Asia and becoming No. 5 in the world. For the past two years, South Korea had stayed ahead in the list of innovative Asian nations.

Changi International Airport in Singapore is one of the most innovative airports in the world. Here, a couple is seen on the Walking Net at Jewel Changi, a nature-themed entertainment and retail complex linked to one of the passenger terminals. Photo courtesy: Instagram/changiairport

According to a press release issued by the Singapore Government, the country was ranked 1st in innovation inputs and performed well in indicators it is traditionally strong in, namely, ‘Institutions – institutional, regulatory and business environment’ (ranked 1st); ‘Human capital and research’ (2nd, up from 7th in 2022); ‘Infrastructure’ (8th, up from 11th in 2022); and ‘Business sophistication’ (3rd).

In innovation outputs, Singapore ranked 12th (up from 14th in 2022) and improved its performance in the indicators ‘Knowledge and technology outputs’ (10th, up from 13th in 2022); and ‘Creative outputs’ (18th, up from 21st in 2022).

In relation to intellectual property (IP), Singapore improved its rankings for most of the IP-related indicators with increases in IP applications.

Singapore also performed well in a new indicator ‘Unicorn valuations’ (ranked 8th), which is based on the total valuation of all unicorns in a country as a percentage of GDP (a unicorn company is a private company with a valuation of over USD 1 billion). 

Singapore improved two positions to be ranked 1st in the ‘Investment’ indicator, as a nod to its dynamic venture capital environment, maintaining top positions in venture capital value and deals received (as scaled by GDP). The conducive investment climate enables businesses to grow and innovation to flourish.

The GII is published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The index is based on two broad areas: innovation inputs and outputs. It uses 80 indicators to rank 132 countries by their capacity for, and success in, innovation. It is a widely recognised benchmarking tool to guide policymakers and businesses in promoting innovation.

Following the 2023 results, Rena Lee, Chief Executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, said, “We welcome the latest GII results for Singapore and are encouraged that we have improved our ranking globally and in the region.”

Lee added, “The GII is a robust and dynamic study that provides valuable insights to help Singapore grow its innovation system. It is also a testament to the combined efforts of the whole of government working with the private and people sectors to nurture an innovative culture and environment for enterprises and creators to thrive.”