In September, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) published the 2021 edition of its annual Global Innovation Index (GII), which takes the pulse of the most recent global innovation trends. This year’s report takes a look at the state of innovation throughout the Covid-19 crisis.
CERN and WIPO share common interests, in particular when it comes to highlighting the importance of large research infrastructures and of the knowledge-transfer activities they generate to support innovation in the market place. The CERN Director-General is a member of the GII Advisory Board, and the Laboratory has been featured in the GII in the past: in the GII 2019, CERN contributed a chapter on how particle physics technologies contribute to medical innovation; in 2016, the GII took CERN as an example of successful innovation initiatives.
The GII 2021 shows that investment in innovation has been resilient during the COVID-19 crisis and even reached new peaks in some sectors and regions. Despite the human toll and the economic shock resulting from the pandemic, scientific output, R&D expenditure, IP filings and venture capital (VC) deals continued to grow in 2020, building on a peak pre-crisis performance. However, more data are required before a full assessment is possible.
The impact has been highly uneven across industries. The GII’s Global Innovation Tracker, a new feature of this year’s report, reveals firms with outputs relating to software, information and communications technologies, hardware and electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals and biotech, increased their investments in R&D and innovation. Whereas firms with business models that rely on in-person contact, such as transport and travel, were hit hard by pandemic containment measures, and experienced significant cutbacks.
High-income economies continue to dominate the rankings, while a number of middle-income economies are starting to change the global innovation landscape and several developing economies have been performing above expectation on innovation relative to their level of economic development. Overall, the GII 2021 shows that the geography of global innovation is changing unevenly, and that new science and technology (S&T) clusters are emerging, with the majority located in only a handful of countries.